NEW YORK, July 21 /PRNewswire/ -- It has taken nearly 10 years for the widow of a former Marine One helicopter pilot who flew Presidents Reagan and Bush to convince federal authorities that her husband was not to blame for the crash of a commercial helicopter he was piloting into the Gulf of Mexico that killed him along with two passengers. Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reversed its original decision, exonerating pilot Nate Brown. The crash occurred on November 28, 1996, while the pilot attempted an emergency pinnacle landing on an oil platform helipad elevated 120 feet above the sea and located about 25 nautical miles off Galveston, Texas. Deb Brown never believed her husband Nate was at fault in the crash. "Nate was a top-notch pilot but there was nothing he could do to save his passengers or himself when the helicopter started coming apart on landing," said Ms. Brown. In a just-released decision from the National Transportation Safety Board, accident investigators finally agreed. The petition to the agency that investigates all U.S. aircraft fatalities was filed on Ms. Brown's behalf by Andrew J. (Duke) Maloney III, a partner with New York-based Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, the nation's leading aviation law firm. In a rare reversal last week, the NTSB formally withdrew the finding of pilot error by Mr. Brown. In 1998 the Kreindler firm filed suit against Eurocopter, the French manufacturer of the AS-350 model known as the A-Star that crashed into the Gulf of Mexico on November 28, 1996, killing Nate Brown and his two passengers. The lawsuit, which cited two previous and two later accidents involving mechanical defects in this aircraft model, was eventually settled. What remained was the implication that Mr. Brown's piloting skills had contributed to the accident. "Very Common To Blame The Pilot," Aviation Attorney Says "It is very common to blame the pilot in aircraft accidents and sometimes it is warranted, but here, it was clearly unfair to Mr. Brown, given the emergency he faced from the mechanical defects that arose during flight," Mr. Maloney of the Kreindler firm stated. His petition that the NTSB reconsider its finding of pilot error included exhibits, expert testimony and forensic evidence from the accident to prove that the aft section of the helicopter's tail boom, including its tail rotor, was severed from aircraft during flight due to a fractured bearing that controlled the pitch of the tail rotor blades. "Without a tail rotor and vertical stabilizer, you cannot control the aircraft. No pilot can. It's that simple," said Mr. Maloney. Ms. Brown added, "I am satisfied and grateful that the NTSB reviewed the case not only because it cleared Nate, but I hope it also helps prevent other similar accidents." Two Subsequent Eurocopter Crashes Reported By NTSB The NTSB decision reports two subsequent Eurocopter crashes involving tail boom separations: on June 6, 1998, in Burbank, CA; and, on October 27, 1999, in Westbury, NY. Ms. Brown and the Kreindler firm have been vocal advocates of a proposed requirement to include flight data and cockpit voice recorders, known as the "black box," in all commercial aircraft, including helicopters. "If they would have had a black box on this helicopter, it would not have saved my husband or his two passengers, but could have saved a significant amount of money and heartache in determining accurately the cause of this crash." Former Federal Prosecutor Commends NTSB's Courage in Reversing Itself Mr. Maloney said the NTSB's decision was courageous, and by admitting it was wrong, the Safety Board also "reiterates a commitment to ultimately getting it right." At Kreindler & Kreindler, Andrew Maloney works on high profile aviation litigation and is helping prosecute the civil suit against the September 11 terrorists and their co-conspirators currently pending in the New York Federal Court. Mr. Maloney formerly served as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, conducting a variety of federal criminal investigations and prosecutions working with the FBI, DEA, ATF, Secret Service, Postal Inspectors, NYPD and United States Marshals among other investigative agencies. About Kreindler & Kreindler LLP Founded in 1950, Kreindler & Kreindler (http://www.kreindler.com) is nationally recognized as the nation's first and leading aviation law firm. With offices in New York and Los Angeles, the Kreindler firm has been the leading plaintiff counsel on hundreds of aviation lawsuits, including such high profile cases as the September 11 terrorist attacks, Pan Am Lockerbie Flight 103, Korean Airlines Flight 007, American Airlines Flight 587, and many cases of small private and commercial crashes. Among Kreindler's attorneys and staff are airplane and helicopter pilots, engineers and other technical experts. The firm also practices in other areas involving product liability, medical malpractice, general negligence, and personal injury as well as commercial torts.
SOURCE Kreindler & Kreindler LLP