TORRANCE ( — A pilot and a photographer lost their lives off the coast of San Pedro on Jan. 4 when their Robinson R22 helicopter crashed.

Part of the main rotor blade was not recovered, and the point where it broke off was jagged and angular, according to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Attorney Ilyas Akbari said it is still too early know exactly what happened. But he has filed several lawsuits over the years for other crashes against the R22 manufacturer – Robinson Helicopter Comany – based in Torrance.

“I think the blade came into contact with something, fractured, and then the angular part is what we see when the blade keeps rotating and makes an angular type cut,” Akbari said.

The attorney said the main rotor blades don’t have enough mass.

“When something happens, and you lose the lift going under here, it’s harder for these blades to pick up speed again and make the lift to recover,” the lawyer explained as he was holding a model helicopter.

He settled a lawsuit involving a deadly R22 crash in Riverside in 2013. Since then, CBS2/KCAL9 has covered at least three crashes also involving R22’s.

In October 2016, a new Zealand transport watchdog added Robinson helicopters to the list of  “most pressing concerns.”

The owner of Robinson Helicopter Company told CBS2’s Erica Mandy that it was a lack of pilot training there, and new guidelines are now in place.

“The only civilian helicopter in the world that the FAA has mandated that anyone who wants to fly this helicopter needs to take additional training,” Akbari added.

As for the most recent deadly crash in San Pedro, the company’s owner released a statement saying: “our feeling is that the blade most likely broke when it hit the water. But NTSB is investigating.”


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