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In the aftermath of the death of Giro Copter pilot Sean Kloppers, who died when the aircraft he was flying hit the ground and burst into flames in 2006, his wife, Christelle, is claiming damages from individuals and close corporations whose alleged negligence contributed to the accident.
Christelle Kloppers instituted the claim in the Pretoria High Court.
No amount for damages has yet been set.
Sean and a friend, Henry Grover, flew to Machadodorp on November 8, 2006, from Rhino Park Airfield near Cullinan. Earlier, the two flew in with Grover’s Giro Copter as they were fetching a similar aircraft at Rhino Park.
In an affidavit submitted to court Grover said Sean Kloppers told him to take off first. Kloppers followed him and they flew side by side, about 100m apart.
Kloppers told him he had a fuel problem and was turning back to Rhino Park. Grover said he followed Kloppers back.
“The rotor came out and the aircraft came down hard and started to burn as it hit the ground,” Grover stated.
Another witness said he saw Kloppers making a turn in the air as if he intended to come back to land. He too saw the helicopter rotor blade come off.
The aircraft crashed into the ground and burst into flames.
Paramedics declared Kloppers dead on the scene.
It was stated on behalf of the widow that once the question of who was liable for the accident had been determined by the court, the amount of damages to be claimed would be calculated.
Kloppers will claim the damages on behalf of herself and her children, as Sean was the breadwinner of the family.
The claim will include funeral expenses and loss of support.
The widow claimed that her husband’s death arose owing to the alleged negligence of various of the manufacturers of aircraft components.
She claimed her husband died when the rotor blades of the helicopter separated from its motor and the aircraft plunged to the ground.
She alleges in court papers that one of the parties which should be held responsible for the accident is Micro Flight Aviation CC, as it did modifications to the aircraft before it was in the accident.
It is stated that in light of the affidavits of the eyewitnesses, it appeared that the aircraft crashed because the rotor blade had become detached.
Judge Neil Tuchten granted default judgment in favour of the widow against Micro Flight Aviation, which he said was liable for the damages she could prove she and her children had suffered.
The close corporation did not file papers to state its side.
It is not clear at this stage whether the widow will continue with her claim against other respondents.