NYPD Officers Suing Chopper Companies for Crash-Landing


On September 22, 2010, an NYPD helicopter crashed in Jamaica Bay. The six officers onboard had been patrolling the sky because President Obama was in town for a meeting at the United Nations.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told CBS New York that the pilot “heard a loud bang and then lost altitude rapidly and landed on the water.” News outlets cited mechanical failure as the cause and praised the pilot’s skills for keeping everybody safe.

“No one was seriously injured,” the Associated Press reported.

“All six NYPD officers aboard escaped serious injuries,” CBS stated.

Or maybe not. The six cops involved “suffered serious physical and emotional injuries,” according to a complaint recently filed in federal court in Brooklyn. Three years after the accident, the officers are suing the helicopter’s manufactures for negligence.

The complaint, first reported by Courthouse News Service, lists Bell Helicopter Textron and Pratt & Whitney Canada as defendants. The Texas-based Bell Helicopter manufactured the chopper and provided it to the NYPD. Pratt & Whitney, headquartered in Quebec, built the engine.

“The gear failure led to an immediate loss of power output from the engine to the helicopter rotor blade system and resulted in a loss of rotor speed and subsequent impact, causing injuries to plaintiffs,” the suit states, according to Courthouse News.

Just before the emergency landing, the helicopter had been approaching an airfield near the bay. It had to refuel, Kelly told CBS. The pilot activated flotation devices below the craft shortly before it hit the water, around 30 yards from the shore.

The six officers named as plaintiffs are Michael Casali, Sean Daly, Thomas Diaz, Erin Nolan, Raphael Saavedra, and James Varga. Three spouses–Katherine Casali, Jolene April Diaz, and Aya Varga–are also included in the suit.

We’ve reached out to the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Brian Alexander, to find out about the injuries to the officers. We’ll update the post when he gets back to us. Alexander’s firm, Kreindler & Kreindler, also represents some of the passengers that were on Asiana Airlines flight 214, which crashed at the San Francisco International Airport in July.

The NYPD has not yet responded to our query about whether the two companies listed in the complaint continue to manufacture the department’s helicopters.