PHILADELPHIA (CN) — Five months after country music star Troy Lee Gentry died in a helicopter crash, his widow filed suit Wednesday against the aircraft manufacturers.
One half of the duo Montgomery Gentry, 50-year-old Gentry was slated to perform on Sept. 8, 2017, at the Flying W Airport and Resort in Medford, New Jersey, when he was offered a private sightseeing tour of the area.
Represented the Wolk Law Firm, Gentry’s widow says the throttle cable jammed soon after takeoff and threw the engine of the Model 269 helicopter into high speeds.
Angela Gentry says the failure by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. and Keystone Helicopter Corp. to make the aircraft crashworthy left occupants no chance of survival in case of an emergency.
“The dangers from the lack of crashworthiness and defects in the engine, transmission and sprag clutch, throttle cables, engine attachments and absence of crashworthy features were unknown to the average user and consumer of this helicopter but well known to these defendants who made it a point to hide and deny and problems that could and did cause serious personal injury and death,” the complaint states, filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
Rather than correcting these design flaws, the complaint says Sikorsky and Keystone chose instead to “treat … the helicopter and its engine like an unwanted burden.”
Gentry’s widow says no recommendations on how to deal with the emergency were available in the pilot operating handbook, and that the course taken here — to shut down the engine at an altitude of 959 feet — proved fatal.
“Because of defects in the engine, throttle cable attachment and collective control, the helicopter did not enter autorotation as expected, it did not disengage smartly from the transmission so the engine the rotors slowed to a speed lower than would permit a safe autorotation, thus allowing the helicopter to drop like a stone to the ground below, killing all aboard,” the complaint states.
A Tennessee native, Troy Gentey was father to two daughters, ages 15 and 24. Montgomery Gentry was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2009. The band recorded six albums and charted more than 20 singles on Billboard’s Hot Country list, “Something to be Proud Of” and “Lucky Man.”
Gentry’s bandmante Eddie Montgomery, the brother of country star John Michael Montgomery, continued to tour as a solo act but will reportedly not keep the band going.
Their final album, “Here’s To You,” was released on Feb. 2. The duo had been working on the album at the time of the crash.
Sikorsky spokeswoman Callie Ferrari declined to comment on the allegations pending an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
“We are fully cooperating with the NTSB and cannot comment further due to the investigation,” Ferrari said in a statement.