Less than one month after Santa Barbara filmmaker Mike DeGruy and his colleague Andrew Wight died in a helicopter crash in Australia, the manufacturer that makes the model involved in that and other similarly fatal accidents reissued a notice to owners to fix the chopper’s fuel system and moved the date for compliance up one full year.
On February 21, Robinson Helictoper Company out of Torrance, California, updated a “service bulletin” to say that the fuel systems on R44s made before December 2010 should be retrofitted with bladder-type tanks and that such work should be done as soon as possible but no later than 2014; the previous bulletin gave 2015 as the deadline. A Robinson spokesperson explained that the company was able to amend the deadline because it has increased production of the replacement fuel bladders over the past year, so more are available for owners to purchase. It’s still up to the owners to cover the costs, which are $6,800 for supplies and an additional 40 hours of labor, which can cost more than $300 per hour.
The move came the same week that a lawsuit against Robinson about the allegedly faulty fuel system — which attorneys have alleged makes survivable crashes fatal due to low impact explosions — was settled just before starting near Seattle.