NORFOLK,Va. (WVEC) -- It's been nearly three years since a tragic Navy helicopter crash in the Atlantic killed three local crew members.
Tonight, the aircraft's manufacturer has agreed to settle wrongful death and negligence claims by the widows of the three airmen and a survivor of the crash.
Connecticut-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. has agreed to settle wrongful death and negligence claims in a lawsuit filed over the January, 2014 crash of a Navy helicopter that killed three crew members on an exercise 18 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, during routine mine countermeasures training.
"A fire erupted in the upper left hand side of the aircraft, just behind the cockpit, resulting in thick black smoke," said Navy Captain Todd Flannery in September, 2014.
The original Navy report said there was a fireball, the crew became disoriented, and they only had about 20 seconds before their MH-53 hit the ocean. The problem began with a fuel line. There was an eruption of some kind, and the fuel came into contact with these electrical wires. The arc or surge came into contact with the fuel line that had become chafed.
The mishap prompted the Navy inspect each and every one of the service's 28 Sea Dragons and all 149 Sea Stallions.
A Virginian-Pilot investigation found that those inspections were not sufficient, and, a new round was ordered.
The commodore of Helicopter Sea combat wing Atlantic Commodore told 13News Now in April, 2015, that the objective was to get it right.
"Aviation is inherently dangerous," Captain Pat Everly. "But we owe it to the men and women who operate it, and those who work on it to make sure we're providing a safe aircraft."
The MH-53-E Sea Dragon is the Navy's oldest and most maintenance-intensive helicopter. The one in question dates back to the 80''s.
Sikorsky has reached a "settlement in principle" with the widows of the three crewmen and a survivor of the crash, according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed and await approval of a judge.
Story and video: http://www.13newsnow.com