Judge Finds FAA Liable for 2003 Helicopter Midair

 - May 8, 2008, 12:27 PM

U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper disagreed with the NTSB’s probable cause of a midair between two helicopters on Nov. 6, 2003, at Zamperini Field in Torrance, Calif., and ruled that “Defendant United States, acting by and through the conduct of its ATC, their supervisors and the FAA, caused serious injuries to Gavin Heyworth and caused the death of [Robert Bailey and Brett Boyd.]” The NTSB concluded that Heyworth, a student pilot flying a Robinson R22, failed to comply with an ATC clearance, thus causing the midair with an R44 flown by Bailey and Boyd. Judge Cooper concluded that the controllers did not conduct a proper position-relief briefing; failed to issue a safety alert to either helicopter; failed to scan the runways to the maximum extent possible; failed to maintain adequate vigilance and positional/situational awareness of airport traffic; and failed to issue clear and concise instructions to Heyworth. Cooper ruled that “Heyworth did not violate any rules or regulations in the path he took in complying with the second clearance to land.” The case for damages is expected to be held later this year.