On August 12, 2017, at about 1649 EDT, a Bell 407 helicopter, N31VA, crashed and was destroyed in an accident in Charlottesville, VA. The airline transport-rated pilot and the private pilot observer, both Virginia State Troopers, were fatally injured.

Virginia State Police Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, left, of Quinton, Va., and Lt. H. Jay Cullen, of Midlothian, Va. (Virginia State Police via AP)

After reviewing the preliminary report released just several weeks later by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSP), experienced Bell 407 helicopter pilots agreed that the NTSB got it so wrong and independently published comments on how wrong the NTSB was. [Read Comments]

“The only reason that a helicopter stops flying from a nice straight-and-level altitude and course is if something goes wrong mechanically,” said Robert Hadow, a 20-year certified flight instructor based out of NJ who has 5,000 hours of fixed-wing pilot experience.

In 2019, Lt. Cullen and Trooper Bates’ widows filed suit against the manufacturer, Bell Helicopter Textron. 

The plaintiffs’ experts, some of the most qualified accident reconstructionists in the world, have since issued scathing reports showing how the NTSB performed a sloppy investigation and ignored obvious and critical evidence. These reports are linked below.

Accident Reconstructionists Reports:

Based on these reports, the NTSB:

  • ignored eyewitness statements,
  • ignored the significance of the severed tail rotor drive shaft,
  • ignored the metallurgical evidence that the pedal limiter was in the engaged position when it should have been disengaged,
  • ignored the fact that the emergency pedal limiter disengagement lever could not be pulled due to left pedal pressure being applied by the pilot,
  • ignored that the pilot was a Certified Flight Instructor who taught vortex ring state, 
  • never did a flight test which would have shown that the Model 407 is almost immune from vortex ring state and recovers in 100 feet of altitude loss, 
  • ignored the fact that the tail rotor, as well as the main rotors, struck the tail boom,
  • ignored that the helicopter was originally certified without a pedal limiter and keeps crashing even with it installed

They also ignored the hundreds of service difficulty reports that showed flaws in the rotor blades and ignored the fact that the rotor blades on the accident helicopter were replaced repeatedly.

The NTSB ignored the fact that Bell Helicopter was responsible for recertifying all Virginia State Police Pilots and did not demonstrate vortex ring state for years before the accident, and then the NTSB never interviewed any of the pilot’s helicopter students to see how frequently he taught and demonstrated vortex ring state. 

It also ignored the fact that on the morning of the day of the crash, Trooper Bates commented on the helicopter’s anomalous behavior, which the pilot thought to be vortex ring state when it was a rotor system out of track.

No flight tests, student witness interviews, no reconstruction that wasn’t by Bell, no realistic metallurgical analysis, and no tests of exemplar parts; in short shoddy, incomplete investigation not in accordance with the NTSB’s procedures.

~ Arthur Alan Wolk 




The National Transportation Safety Board gets to investigate all fatal airplane crashes. So, when a Virginia State Police helicopter went down in Charlottesville while tending to the demonstrations there, it jumped right in to investigate.

Whom did it invite to help? Bell, the maker of the helicopter, the Virginia State Police, Rolls Royce, the engine make and another component manufacturer. No one from the families of the two dead pilots were allowed to participate, and the NTSB and the Virginia State Police retained the wreckage for years not permitting anyone for the families to examine it.

In the NTSB Factual Report, the Board attached a video taken from miles away that shows the crash as a little moving dot. That video is attached.

But in truth there was another video, taken by someone who used her cell phone and was much closer. That video is attached.

Some still photos were taken by another bystander before the crash dynamics fully developed and they too were distant.

Well in my preparation for the trial of this case to start July 17th, I enlarged the video taken by the cell phone and it too is attached. What is plainly visible is that instead of this accident being from a Vortex Ring State, it was nothing of the kind. The helicopter was toppling end over end from a severed tail rotor drive shaft due to its spinning from a tail rotor pedal limiter that malfunctioned.

The enlarged video side by side with a vortex ring state video shows without any doubt that the NTSB aided by all its manufacturer friends got it all wrong.

Instead of gathering and considering all the evidence the NTSB once again helped to hide the real cause of the accident which is why more accidents will be caused for the same reason as this one just like others that have occurred in the past.

Shame on them for not doing their job! Aviation safety depends on it!

Please see the video below.

Arthur Alan Wolk

July 4th, 2023

Contact The Wolk Law Firm
p: (215) 545-4220
c: (610) 733-4220
f: (215) 545-5252

For more commentaries, click here.

See The Side by Side Video Below

Witness Video

Vulchard Video



The sad crash of a Citation V private jet is widely concluded by the media as a hypoxia event. That means loss of cabin pressure that resulted in loss of consciousness of the pilot.

First, loss of cabin pressure is a trained for event in all jets and includes the recognition of a pressurization warning, a quick donning oxygen mask readily available to the pilot and a rapid descent even though passengers will also have oxygen available.

For some reason, this pilot was rendered unconscious or unable to operate this aircraft at 34,000 feet even though he would have had a minute of useful consciousness in the event of loss of pressurization.

That just doesn’t make sense. It takes only a couple of seconds to put on the oxygen mask.

So long as the oxygen bottle was full and the mask functional this accident doesn’t happen due to hypoxia.

So, what else is a possible scenario? The pilot could have become incapacitated for reasons other than hypoxia in which event the autopilot would have flown the airplane along the flight planned route and then if nothing was done at or before the destination turned the aircraft back on its route if that’s how the autopilot is programmed until it ran out of fuel.

As the aircraft descended, the pilot would have regained consciousness quickly as the air became more dense. It usually takes at least 18,000 feet above sea level before consciousness is regained but descent while on autopilot even with no power is fairly benign.

What is unusual about this accident is the report that the final descent was 20,000 feet per minute. No intact airplane descends that fast in one piece which leads me to believe that something or someone overstressed the airplane during its descent especially with both engines dead from no fuel.

What could have occurred is both engines quit from fuel starvation, the autopilot tried to maintain level flight time and time again but could not and at some point, the autopilot disconnected, the airplane suffered an aerodynamic stall fell off on one wing and descended rapidly and the 20,000 feet per minute is an interpretation based upon initial descent rate. It is also possible as well that as the aircraft descended more and more rapidly, it broke apart which would account for the rapid descent as it was no longer intact. That would be similar to another Citation accident in Utah which due to an icing encounter, aerodynamically stalled, and broke apart at about 16,000 feet during the rapid descent in the stall.

Some new jets, like the HondaJet and the Cirrus Jet have a button. If the pilot is incapacitated, a passenger can push the button, the airplane announces its emergency, picks a suitable airport and lands by itself. This is the latest technology that does not exist in the Citation V or most other aircraft.

This is a sad day for the families of those who lost their lives. May their memories be a blessing.

Arthur Alan Wolk

June 6, 2023

Arthur Alan Wolk

January 22, 2023

Contact The Wolk Law Firm
p: (215) 545-4220
c: (610) 733-4220
f: (215) 545-5252

For more commentaries, click here.

Air Traffic Control Communications With The Pilot



A Beechcraft A-36 Bonanza departed JFK Airport in New York on a rainy night returning home to Cleveland where their families awaited their return.

The pilot, Boruch Taub and his passenger Binyamin Chafetz took off on a routine flight when all of a sudden, the aircraft lost its climb rate and on-board diagnostics revealed that power in at least one cylinder was lost and oil pressure was decreasing.

Air Traffic Control afforded magnificent assistance to this pilot trying to give him radar vectors and reassurance to the Westchester New York Airport nearby but the workload and the loss of engine power was just too much to make the Instrument landing System to Runway 16  at the airport.

The pilot was cool, calm and followed directions in this most highly stressful environment but sadly the aircraft crashed into trees near the airport and both occupants were killed.

The engine in this model aircraft has failed and failed again in service. In fact, in one popular model, the primary source of accidents is the failed engine of similar make and model as this one.

I owned a similar aircraft many years ago and once I became aware of and the victim of its litany of engine problems never owned one again.

Here is the problem with reciprocating aircraft engines. They are old designs. They fail catastrophically too often. Failed cylinders are epidemic, this engine likely had a rod put through the cylinder wall or crankcase causing loss of oil pressure and the loss of power in the entire engine. There is no current alternative but anyone who flies a reciprocating engine powered aircraft is risking a catastrophe every takeoff. But the industry has been slick by misrepresenting the frequency of failures, near failures and potential failures so pilots think it will never happen to them. It does and it will.

I attach the air traffic control communications which is instructive. First it teaches us that ATC can be of invaluable assistance in an emergency. It teaches us that some pilots make us proud to be in that community because of their professionalism, even in fear of death. You can read more in the article in The Stamford Advocate.

Be prepared to cry, the knowledge that no matter how hard these men tried to save each other, it was not enough will break your heart.

May the memories of Boruch Taub and Benyamin Chafetz be a blessing to their families.

Arthur Alan Wolk

January 22, 2023

Contact The Wolk Law Firm
p: (215) 545-4220
c: (610) 733-4220
f: (215) 545-5252

For more commentaries, click here.

Air Traffic Control Communications With The Pilot



Some years back, the United States Supreme Court turned the concept of jurisdiction in this country on its head.  Jurisdiction is the power of a Court to hear a case based on either the systematic and continuous activities of a defendant in a State (general jurisdiction), or some specific act that caused harm in a State but coupled with some continuous efforts to avail themselves of the benefits of the State (specific jurisdiction). What the Supreme Court held in a very simple case that was neither briefed nor argued on jurisdiction was that a defendant could only be sued where it was incorporated or where its nerve center was located. Justice Sotomayor railed at the decision as being on the wrong side of history in a famous dissent.

But based on the Supreme Court’s wrong decision courts all over the country threw out cases unless the strict criteria for exercising jurisdiction was met. Our case in North Carolina captioned Cohen v. Continental Motors, Inc. was one of those cases.

Mike Miska created an excellent record that CMI not only purposely availed itself of the benefits of doing business in North Carolina, made money from its activities there, the part that failed was sold there, the accident happened there and the Plaintiff’s decedents lived in North Carolina so the harm from the defendant’s conduct occurred there.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals interpreting the new Supreme Court more relaxed view on the law of jurisdiction found that CMI indeed should be subject to the power of the North Carolina Courts to hear this case and reversed the lower Court’s decision to throw the case out. A copy of the opinion is attached here.

The Wolk Law Firm is known Worldwide for its tenacity in behalf of its clients.

Arthur Alan Wolk





Three young beautiful young adults, just beginning their lives are dead in what should have been a no risk simple sightseeing flight and return.

They departed Bountiful Utah at 7 P.M., daylight, to view the church of the Peterson’s marriage by air.

A few minutes later they were dead as the airplane crashed into a mountain that should have been plainly visible.

The winds were very light only about 3 knots, the temperature was a hot 90 degrees and the conditions were visual flight rules.

They were flying an old Cessna 182H, built in 1965, and owned by J. Parker Christensen, a new pilot.

Kallie was an experienced pilot who had just been hired by the airlines to start training in November.

The Cessna 182 is a simple airplane to fly when everything works.

The mountains around Bountiful are high around 9,000 feet or more. There were some showers above the mountains that day.

The airplane has a carbureted engine and given the density altitude (about 8000 feet), temperature and the showers, any loss of power would make the airplane incapable of climbing above the peaks or even making it back to the airport.

A careful examination of the ADS-B data showing altitudes, rates of climb and airspeed demonstrate that the climb rate and airspeed was as expected given the weather, loading and age of the airplane but airspeed slowed in an obvious attempt by the pilot to keep climbing as the aircraft passed about 7200 feet above sea level. That occurred either because this normally aspirated aircraft simply ran out of climb capability or the carburetor simply could not keep up with the engine’s power needs.

This should never have happened. There was enough talent, experience and knowledge in that aircraft.

It was well below its gross weight.

Something else caused this accident.

We hope the families are able to learn what the cause was and The Wolk Law Firm can help.

Arthur Alan Wolk





In a terrible accident well respected physician and internist Dr. Martin Beerman was killed while flying his TBM 700 aircraft. There was no significant weather at the location where radar contact with the aircraft was lost in a flight from Northern Ohio to Cincinnati. The flight proceeded normally until it neared Urbana Ohio when it was lost. The wreckage distribution after what looks to be a loss of control shows that it may have come down in pieces which is indicative of an in-flight break-up.

The TBM series aircraft has been around for many years and is now manufactured by Daher in France.

There have been several loss of control accidents of the Socata built airplanes and most have not been weather related. There have also been accidents where pressurization loss has resulted in pilot incapacitation. Some 27 fatal crashes have occurred and some 47 total accidents involving this model. For a limited production aircraft that is a single pilot, single engine aircraft, that is a lot.

An in-flight break-up which is supported by the radar data is a pilot’s worst nightmare come true because once it occurs there is nothing a pilot can do to avoid a fatal crash. Engine failure may also be a factor but the pilots communication with Air Traffic Control should be telling. If there is none about what’s wrong, that could confirm an in-flight break-up. Some pilots who suffer from loss of control are also too busy trying to regain control and do not talk to Air Traffic Control. The aircraft had been cruising at 20,000 feet where pressurization is vital. It then descended to 11,000 feet where oxygen is not required and then sharply down after that.

The NTSB will take possession of the wreckage an ask for the help of Pratt and Whitney who made the engine and Daher who has legal responsibility for the aircraft’s Type Certificate today. That truly is the fox guarding the hen house but after the wreckage is released, the Wolk Law Firm, if engaged, will find the cause.

Our condolences to Dr. Beerman’s family and his colleagues.

Arthur Alan Wolk




The Wolk Law Firm took no money from the Government for the Paycheck Protection Program, laid off no one and paid everyone in full, salary, benefits and bonuses during the Pandemic.

We are blessed to be a successful law firm for 53 years and there was no need to further stress the Government or the taxpayers by taking money it did not need. That money should have been saved for small business and their employees who suffered so much said Arthur Alan Wolk, the firm’s founder.

Other rich law firms just reported as how they took PPP loans that were recently forgiven by the Government. Those loans may be forgiven by the Government but it will take a higher authority to forgive them from taking money they did not need from others who did.

Arthur Alan Wolk

July 10, 2021