In a tragic incident which unfolded in the Grand Canyon in 2018, a helicopter crash claimed the lives of five individuals, including British tourist Jonathan Udall and his newlywed wife, Ellie Milward Udall. Recently, a Nevada judge approved a $100 million cash settlement to the grieving parents, marking a significant step toward justice. This landmark decision reveals critical details about the crash, emphasizing the need for enhanced aviation safety measures.
The approved settlement, disclosed in Las Vegas, designates $24.6 million from helicopter operator Papillon Airways, Inc. and $75.4 million from French manufacturer Airbus Helicopters SAS to the Udall family. Lawrence J. Smith, an attorney at Bertoldo Carter Smith & Cullen (BCSC), as a member of the legal team involved in the case, played an important and pivotal role as Nevada-based co-counsel in achieving this groundbreaking settlement.
The Udall family's dual legal team consisting of Robb & Robb Law Firm out of Kansas City in conjunction with the BCSC firm insisted on publicizing the settlement terms in order to raise awareness regarding the dangers of aircraft fuel tanks prone to rupturing. Describing the fuel tank as a "firebomb," the family aims to spotlight this issue, urging the aviation industry to address it voluntarily.
The lawsuit highlighted the absence of a crash-resistant fuel system, a requirement for aircraft built after new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations in 2020. While some manufacturers have voluntarily upgraded their fuel tanks, many have not, posing a significant public health risk. The Udall family hopes their advocacy will prevent others from experiencing a similar tragedy.
This $100 million settlement brings justice to the Udall family and serves as a powerful call for improved aviation safety standards. The tragic incident has shed light on the need for manufacturers to prioritize the safety of their aircraft, particularly concerning fuel tank design. As the Udall family continues their advocacy, the hope is that this landmark settlement will contribute to preventing future incidents and protecting lives in the skies.