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FAA ordered to pay pilot's family

$4.5 million is awarded to widow and kids of flight instructor killed at Torrance airport.

August 05, 2008|From The Associated Press

The Federal Aviation Administration has been ordered to pay $4.5 million to the family of a flight instructor killed in a helicopter collision in 2003.

The money was awarded to Robert Bailey's widow and three children after they won a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the FAA and the federal government.

U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ruled against the FAA in May, blaming an air traffic controller for the collision of two helicopters at Torrance Municipal Airport.

Cooper said the controller gave confusing instructions to a student pilot that caused his helicopter to crash into the one piloted by Bailey. Both pilots were killed and a third was severely injured.

Cooper awarded Bailey's family the $4.5 million on Friday. She noted in her ruling that the 55-year-old pilot was "a highly exceptional man upon whom each of the plaintiffs was strongly emotionally dependent."

She also awarded $268,206 in lost earnings and household services to his widow, Melanie, and his 16-year-old daughter, Serra.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said he was unable to comment on the award because he was not able to reach the agency's attorneys in Washington, D.C., on Monday afternoon.

In an accident report released in May 2007, National Transportation Safety Board investigators concluded that the student pilot's "failure to comply with [air traffic control] clearance" caused the crash.

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