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Hansen Helicopters Trial & The Role of the Expert Witness

A curious trial is ongoing in the U.S. territory of Guam. It concerns the fate of helicopter leasing company Hansen Helicopters, which allegedly generated $32 million in lease payments from helicopters that did not meet strict U.S. aviation regulatory standards.

An expert witness in the Hansen Helicopters Trial has indicated to a jury that the infamous company’s helicopters had “inconsistencies” due to safety measures being in Italian.

What is Hansen Helicopters and why is it on trial?

Hansen Helicopters is a helicopter leasing company based in Guam. The company and a number of its executives are facing a suite of criminal charges brought by the United States Government. They are alleging that Hansen employed dozens of uncertified mechanics and an unlicensed pilot. Individuals facing charges include President John Walker, Vice President Marvin Reed, operations director Kenneth Crowe and others.

A trial is ongoing in the U.S. District Court of Guam before Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood, where the prosecution has argued that these individuals “loved money more than they loved life, justice and truth”. They allege that Hansen Helicopters purchased helicopters from Italy, and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration did not have a chance to ensure the helicopters were safely manufactured.

The U.S. District Attorney said that the helicopters should have been manufactured to high standards. But the defendants “didn’t care”. The failure to ensure proper safety standards, according to the prosecution, led to subsequent helicopter crashes and deaths.

The defendants have pleaded not guilty, with attorney for John Walker saying that the prosecution’s “entire case is based on overzealous government investigation trying to punish innocent and hardworking people”.

How did an aviation expert witness become involved?

Expert witness Jeff Guzzetti testified in the Hansen Helicopters Trial to help jurors understand the safety measures of three helicopters that he inspected. Guzzetti is an aviation safety consultant and President of Guzzetti Aviation Risk Discovery, LLC.

Jurors were granted permission by the judge to physically look at the helicopters themselves visiting the Guam National Guard Readiness Center.

Why expert witnesses are critical in aviation legal matters

The evidence given by an aviation expert witness may play a vital role in the outcome of a case.

Aviation is complex, and expert witnesses are able to break down its concepts for lawyers and courts to deliver an understanding of the different technical and operational aspects of flight. This includes through providing expert reports, examining technical evidence, conducting inspections and also delivering oral evidence in court.

Avlaw Aviation Consulting runa specialist aviation expert witness service. With strong relationships with aviation experts across the company, we’re well-positioned to supplying high-quality aviation expert witnesses to help lawyer and law firms build their case.