Germany’s Federal Police are seeking more than $1 million in damages from three helicopter crewmembers who refueled their Airbus EC135 light twin turbine helicopter with avgas instead of jet-A—twice, according to reports by German media outlets including Spiegel and Heute. The fueling error occurred during a night search drill in March from the pumps at Saxony-Anhalt’s Stendal Airport.
While the helicopter somehow managed to fly with the wrong fuel added to its tanks, the crew noted extensive engine damage immediately after the training mission and the engines had to be replaced.
German law allows employers to recover financial damages from employees who perform negligently. Two of the three crew were union members at the time of the incident and the union does provide limited financial liability assistance in such situations for its members, but with a hard cap of $110,000. However, the crew may find relief in past rulings by German courts, which have ruled in the past that damage awards may not impose undue hardships on defendants.