Expert Article Library

Helicopter Instrument Fails and Causes Crash

Case Name: Greene v. B.F. Goodrich Avionics, Sys. (

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; on appeal from Eastern District of Kentucky

Date: May 20, 2005

Expert: Aviation - Helicopter. Douglas Herlihy, expert

Issues: May a helicopter accident investigator give testimony about a specific instrument that he or she is not an expert in?

Summary of case: The wife of a helicopter pilot who died in a the crash of a Sikorsky helicopter brought suit against the manufacturer of the helicopter’s navigation system claiming that the system had been defectively made and that the manufacturer failed in warning of its defective product. In particular, the gyroscope of the navigation system was under attack.

Role of the expert: Mr. Herlihy testified for the pilot’s widow.

Expert analysis: Goodrich claimed that the district court erred when it admitted Herlihy’s expert testimony even though it had concluded that he was not a gyroscope expert. However, Herlihy was qualified to testify as an accident investigator and in that function to give his opinion regarding why the gyroscope caused the crash. On this basis, the Court of Appeals found that admitting Mr. Herlihy’s testimony was correct.

Summary prepared by M. Dellinger, Student, Golden Gate University School of Law