(CN) – A woman who survived a helicopter crash can seek damages from its manufacturer based on defects in the maintenance manual, a California appeals court ruled.
Alika Rogers crashed her Bell 47D1 helicopter in 2005 near the Rancho Murieta Airport. She claimed that Bell’s manual improperly instructed her on how to balance the helicopter’s tail rotor blades.
The helicopter was 52 years old, and its manual was last updated in 1975.
The trial court ruled for Bell, agreeing with the company’s claim that the manual is part of the helicopter. Under that theory, the manual would be excluded as evidence.
But the Sacramento-based Third District Court of Appeal disagreed, ruling that the maintenance manual was not a part of the plane.
“Federal regulations do not require a maintenance manual to be onboard the aircraft … and unlike a flight manual that is unique to the aircraft, used by the pilot, and necessary to operate the aircraft, a maintenance manual applies to different aircraft models, is used by the mechanic, and only for troubleshooting and repairing the aircraft,” wrote Justice Ronald Robie, returning the case to trial court.