The families of the two Colombian men killed in the July 2011 crash of a Robinson R66 have hired the high-profile Los Angeles law firm, Baum Hedlund, to represent them. Last month the law firm issued a press release featuring photos of the men with their families and blasting Robinson for placing “profit over passenger safety.”
Baum Hedlund has faced off with Robinson in five previous crashes of R22s and R44s. According to a preliminary accident report, witnesses reportedly saw parts flying off the helicopter prior to the crash. The owner of the Colombian R66, Juan Pablo Gaviria, was the former president of the Colombian Civil Air Patrol; however, his qualification to fly helicopters is unknown. Passenger Jose Cabrera was a helicopter pilot, but his qualification to the fly the R66 also is unknown.
Robinson CEO Kurt Robinson declined to comment on any aspect of the Colombian crash, citing the ongoing investigation. However, he did say that the company “was very anxious for the final accident report to be released.” He stressed that in the wake of the crash, Robinson had not made any changes to the R66 and that orders for the helicopter, now more than 380, remain strong.
More than 100 R66s have been delivered to date, and Robinson plans to increase the R66 production rate to six per week this year.
Kurt Robinson also strongly disputed the assertion by a Baum Hedlund attorney that Robinson placed more emphasis on profit than safety.
“It’s absolutely false,” he said. “Frank [Kurt’s father] started this company to grow the [helicopter] industry. Our mantra has always been to develop safe, reliable helicopters that everybody could fly and enjoy. We absolutely have a great concern for safety for all the people who are flying the aircraft, including our own families and employees.”
Robinson said that it was company policy to defend itself against “meritless claims” including those involving the R66.