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Pilot in Bow helicopter crash loses suit against manufacturers

A former New Hampshire helicopter pilot has lost in his bid to sue the manufacturers of an aircraft he crash-landed in 2008 on a residential street in Bow, following three weeks of litigation in Concord’s federal court.

Kurt West of Massachusetts said the Dec. 8 crash was caused by a mechanical failure that triggered a loss of power and that the incident caused him post-traumatic stress disorder and inflamed a pre-existing gastrointestinal syndrome. He was suing the manufacturers of the aircraft, its engine and electronic-control system for a combined $4 million.

The defendants – Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., Rolls Royce Corp. and Goodrich Pump & Engine Control Systems Inc. – disputed West’s account, arguing that West had failed to properly clean the helicopter before takeoff, which caused ice to seep into the engine cavity and disrupt the power system. They also alleged that West botched the emergency descent, thereby compounding his resulting medical conditions.

A jury Monday sided with the manufacturers, finding none of them liable.

West had been en route from Connecticut to Pembroke, where the helicopter was to be stored. The power failure occurred about 45 minutes into the flight. No other passengers were aboard the aircraft, and no other people were injured in the crash.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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