Judge Approves $100 Million Settlement to British Tourist’s Family After Grand Canyon Helicopter Crash Tragedy

Judge Approves $100 Million Settlement

In a significant legal development, a US judge has sanctioned a landmark $100 million cash settlement for the parents of Jonathan Udall, a British tourist who tragically lost his life, alongside his wife and three others, in a fatal helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon back in 2018.

The substantial settlement, authorized in Las Vegas, designates $24.6 million from the helicopter operator, Papillon Airways, and a staggering $75.4 million from its French manufacturer, Airbus Helicopters SAS, to Udall’s family.

Legal Impetus for Awareness

Gary C Robb, the family’s attorney, emphasized the family’s intent to publicize the settlement terms to raise awareness about the alleged vulnerability of certain aircraft fuel tanks, which they claim are predisposed to rupturing.

The lawsuit, rooted in the absence of a crash-resistant fuel system in the helicopter involved, aimed to underscore the perceived risk associated with these systems and encourage industry-wide action to rectify this safety concern.

Details of the Tragic Incident

Jonathan and Ellie Milward Udall were among those aboard the ill-fated helicopter tour over the Hualapai reservation outside the Grand Canyon’s national park boundaries when the fatal crash occurred.

The lawsuit highlighted the absence of a crash-resistant fuel system in the aircraft, a safety feature mandated in newer models following FAA regulations in 2020, yet missing in this helicopter.

Consequences of the Crash and Legal Findings

The crash, attributed in part to turbulent winds affecting the helicopter’s control, led to the tragic demise of Udall and others, while some survivors sustained severe injuries.

Investigations concluded that the helicopter lacked a crash-resistant fuel system, which could have potentially mitigated the post-crash fire that claimed lives.

Despite no mechanical faults reported, the absence of this safety feature was underscored in the final accident report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Company Response and Safety Measures

Papillon Helicopters, in response to the tragedy, retrofitted its fleet with crash-resistant fuel tanks, post the FAA’s approval following the accident.

The company expressed condolences to the victims’ families, emphasized their commitment to safety, and clarified that no mechanical issues were found with the pilot or the helicopter, attributing the crash to extreme weather conditions.

Closing a Distressing Chapter

The approved settlement marks a significant resolution for Udall’s family and concludes a chapter of distress stemming from the tragic incident.

The implementation of crash-resistant fuel systems in the fleet stands as a safety enhancement undertaken by Papillon Helicopters following this unfortunate event.

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