The family of a Chicago woman who was fatally injured when a Hawaii tour helicopter crashed in the middle of the Coconut Grove neighborhood in Kailua in 2019 is suing the tour company, the manufacturer and other parties.
The federal court suit was brought forth by the family of Ryan McAuliffe, a 28-year-old woman from Chicago, who was killed when the Robinson R44 operated by Novictor Helicopters crashed. The helicopter’s pilot Joseph G. Berridge, 28, and Jan Burgess, a 76-year-old woman from Australia, also died in the April 29, 2019, incident.
The suit was filed in Honolulu on Tuesday by attorneys Mark Davis, Michael Livingston, Matthew Winter and Joseph Powers.
Novictor Aviation LLC , the tour company operating in Hawaii as Rainbow Helicopters, was named in the suit, which alleges that CEO Nicole Vandelar lacked the qualifications to properly certify Berridge, who at the time of his competency check “lacked the necessary skills, facilities, and training to safely conduct the air tour flight.”
According to the suit, Berridge relocated to Honolulu from New Mexico and had only been working at Novictor for two weeks prior to the crash.
The suit also names Robinson Helicopter Company Inc., the California corporation that manufactured the R-44 helicopter, N808NV, that crashed and a host of other parties, including companies that manufactured helicopter parts and the pilot’s estate.
The suit alleges that “there were defects in the design and/or manufacture of the accident helicopter, its engine and its assemblies, teetering rotor systems, accessories, components, belts, sheaves, all aluminum fuel tanks, drive system, and replacement parts.”
The suit cites a Los Angles Times investigation from 2018 that found that the “Robinson R-44 was involved in 42 fatal crashes in the U.S. from 2006 to 2016, more than any other civilian helicopter.”
The parties involved in the suit could not be reached for an immediate comment.