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Anything and everything about Iron-44


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Has anyone been following the court case about Carson Helicopters Iron-44 investigation?


I'm astonished and confused on how the jury found GE negligent. I'm not saying GE isn't responsible, I'd just like to know what all information might the verdict have gone off of to determine GE was at fault.


I was wondering what others had to think on the situation. Let's not get into a pissing contest here either. I'm just looking for other information that maybe I haven't heard yet. This is what I know:


1.) Copilot claims the helicopter experienced a reduction in power available from one of the S-61's engines just prior to impacting the ground and attests that is what caused the crash.


2.) Sound analysis from cockpit recorders (investigated by NTSB?) concluded both engines were operating at 100% capability just prior to crashing.


3.) There have been emails brought forward that indicated GE knew of a fuel control problem with S61 engines and that led to the malfunction of one of the engines, which ended up causing the crash.


4.) NTSB concluded that the MGW numbers for that particular S61N were fudged, and that the aircraft was operating more than 1,000lbs (almost 1,500) over MGW and that directly was the major cause of the crash.


5.) Witnesses stated they saw the helicopter appear to be having a difficult time getting airborne and up to sufficient altitude and airspeed while departing the helipad.


6.) Both engine FCUs (fuel control units) went missing after both engines were sent to Columbia Helicopters to be dismantled (as Columbia was the operator who worked on the aircraft.) The FCUs would have probably provided greater evidence and detail as to exactly what was going on with the engines at the time of crash.


7.) I'm almost positive I read that the NTSB had found 2 or 3 other Carson S-61N's that also had fudged MGW numbers, but can't remember were I read that. Sometime early in the investigation I believe.


GE sounds like they will appeal the verdict. I'm curious as to what others have to say about the case, any information which any of you have heard (maybe from those who work at Carson?), or anything else about the topic.

Edited by RagMan
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I'm astonished and confused on how the jury found GE negligent. I'm not saying GE isn't responsible, I'd just like to know what all information might the verdict have gone off of to determine GE was at fault.



If they could, corporations would avoid jury trials for that very reason. That’s the “Nature Of The Beast.” Reason is not always involved. GE is held to a higher standard. The fact that GE knew of a fuel control problem for six years may have out weighed any pilot error or operator shortcomings in the minds of jurors. Therefore, they found GE 57% at fault.


Juries are more likely to side with the victims of death and injuries on human issues, regardless of the technical evidence, and against those deep-pocket corporate powers.


It’s like the counterpoint play on conscience in the old Star Trek series between Doctor McCoy’s human side and Spock’s logic of an issue.


As an example, in some states when you pick Kaiser as your medical plan you must agree to waive your rights to a jury or court trial in some cases, and agree to binding arbitration to resolve issues of malpractice. The arbitrator sides more on the technical/logic of the case. This is normally an advantage to the corporate powers that have the resources to tip the scales in their favor.


GE and other big corporations know that Juries (human side) are unpredictable and most often base their verdict on emotion rather than reason.


In this case:


1. Twice, the helicopter landed and took off -- ferrying firefighters with no problem.


2. GE knew for at least six years there were problems with a fuel control valve in the commercial engines the company built for Sikorsky S-61 helicopters, said the plaintiffs' attorney Greg Anderson. The valve failed in the Sikorsky that was carrying the firefighters, shutting power to one of its two engines, he said.


3. Although jurors heard extraordinary detail about helicopter mechanics, weight limits and fuel quality, they also heard about the human side of the disaster.


4. In December 2010, the NTSB said the crash was the result of a cascade of failures by virtually everyone involved in assuring a safe flight. The problem, the NTSB inquiry found, "was compounded by pilots who failed to account for the helicopter operating at the limit of its performance."


5. Under federal law, NTSB probable cause determinations are not allowed as evidence in trials. Private "litigants must prove the cause of the crash to a jury without the benefit of the conclusions of the NTSB accident investigations."


Jury awards more than $70 million for death and injury of pilots

Edited by iChris
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The outcome of this case is what a jury could be convinced to believe. That crash has had such a negative impact on the type 1 fire fighting industry, too bad. There are a few things that I believe may have caused that accident, but this case is not going to settle anything. I was on that fire the day after that accident....such a shame. One fact that people have overlooked is that the S-61 still has the least amount of failures per flight hour compared to any other helicopter. It is trusted to fly the president. What I am getting at is that it took a chain of mistakes/failures for this to happen. The main reason that this is even an issue is that a bunch of passengers died in the accident not just the pilots. All that I know is that the aircraft weights being reported wrong probably had little effect on the accident, engine failure or no the aircraft wasn't able to fly away with its load. I have about 900 hours in the S-61 and have found that it does exactly what the charts say it will do, no more no less. How you fly it can effect that greatly. It didn't help that the USFS was encouraging Carson to add more and more weight to an aircraft that was designed to operate at sea level.


The new Carson blades did improve performance, but to the extent that they were first reported is questionable.


I don't think anyone maliciously tried to hide evidence in this case, we all wanted answers.


Yes GE had some issues with their engines, but so does every other manufacturer.


A theory that I heard a while back still resonates with me......"when you get in to trouble it is easy to dump your water, not so with passengers"

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All of the VH-3D helps we had at HMX were limited by the MGB, not the engine power. The GE-T58-402 engines were not ever an issue, even with the FOD shield we used in front of the inlets, that reduced available power. Granted we didn't take them to high DA very often. The VH-60N was used then. It was actually normal to over torque the MGB for up to 6 seconds on take off, if I remember correctly. Not sure if they use the same model of T58 engines.

Edited by superstallion6113
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The engines in the civilian SK-61 are CT58-140-1 or -2. The only difference being that the -2 can use 750c as a single engine T5 limit or OEI. Depending on the attitude the 61 is limited by both the transmission and the engines. The transmission closer to sea level and the engines at higher altitude.

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