Flight nurse receives $100 million settlement from Flight For Life crash

Flight nurse David Repsher will receive $100 million from Airbus Helicopters and Air Methods Corporation under a settlement agreement announced Thursday.

Repsher sustained burns over 90 percent of his body when the Flight For Life helicopter he was riding in, a new Airbus H125 AStar, crashed shortly after takeoff in Frisco, Colorado, on July 3, 2015. Pilot Patrick Mahany was killed in the crash, while another flight nurse, Matthew Bowe, was seriously injured.

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Repsher was hospitalized for more than a year following the accident, and faces lifelong complications as a result of his injuries.

Last year, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined the probable cause of the accident to be Airbus Helicopters’ preflight hydraulic check, combined with a lack of salient alerting to the pilot that hydraulic pressure was not restored before takeoff.

The accident also called attention to the lack of crash-resistant fuel systems and other crash safety features in many newly manufactured helicopters, including the Flight For Life H125.

Airbus will contribute a little over $55 million to the settlement amount. The remainder, just under $45 million, will come from Air Methods, the operator of the Flight For Life helicopter.

According to a press release from Repsher’s attorney Gary C. Robb, the claims against Air Methods centered on the aftermarket seat in which Repsher was sitting, which had been installed by Air Methods and was ejected from the aircraft during the crash sequence.

In a statement, Airbus said, “The settlement with David Repsher and his wife reflects the serious and devastating nature of this accident, which Airbus Helicopters does not take lightly.”

Since the crash, Airbus has made modifications to dual-hydraulic AStars to address the safety issues identified by the NTSB. The company has also developed a rupture-resistant fuel system for the H125, while StandardAero and Robertson Fuel Systems have developed a crash-resistant fuel system for the H125 and other models in the AS350 series.

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Air Methods said it is now in the process of retrofitting its entire Airbus AS350 and EC130 fleet with updated crash-resistant fuel systems. “We continued to be inspired by the strength and courage of Dave Repsher and his family, and hope this resolution provides closure for everyone that was impacted by this accident,” the company stated.

According to Robb, the Repshers plan to establish a private foundation, the initial mission of which will be to promote emergency medical services flight safety and burn survivor support.

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