A lawsuit was filed last week by the wife of the small plane pilot who died in an August mid-air collision with a sight-seeing tour helicopter over the Hudson River in New York City. The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the plane-helicopter crash was caused by the negligence of the tour company, the owner of the helicopter and its manufacturer.
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Pamela Altman, whose husband, Steven, was killed on August 8 when his small plane collided with a helicopter carrying tourists that had just taken off. Nine people were killed in the collision, including Altman, his brother and nephew in the plane, and the pilot and five Italian tourists on board the helicopter.
Altman seeks damages from Liberty Helicopter Inc, which operated the tours, Meridian Consulting Corp., which owned the helicopter, and American Eurocopter L.L.C., which manufactured the helicopter. She alleges that both Liberty and Meridian have horrible safety track records, indicating that they treated the airways above New York City like a game of “bumper cars.” The lawsuit also alleges that American Eurocopter failed to install sufficient safety equipment in the helicopter.
Prior to filing her wrongful death suit, Altman indicates that the companies attempted to intimidate her by having their insurance companies attempt to sue her husband’s estate for the loss of the helicopter.
The airplane-helicopter accident gained national attention due to video of the collision and air traffic control tower transcripts that seemed to indicate that Steven Altman’s request to fly at 3,500 feet to avoid air traffic was shrugged off by an air traffic controller in Teterboro, New Jersey, who was talking on a personal phone call at the same time.
The controller transferred responsibility for Altman’s plane to Newark Liberty International Airport and the controller’s supervisor was gone from the tower, allegedly on an unauthorized personal errand. Additional claims will likely be filed in the future against the Federal Aviation Administration, which employed the air traffic controllers.