Facts of Oregon Criminal Case are an Awful Reminder of the Critical Importance of Voluntary Compliance

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ARTICLE: Guilty Plea in Oregon in 2008 Fatal Copter Crash

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The most fundamental principle of the aviation regulatory system is that the FAA cannot surveil every safety decision; therefore, it is absolutely essential that the certificate holder demand that all of the people exercising that authority obtain 100% compliance. That rule has been inviolate; there have been occasions where someone has interpreted a FAR incorrectly, but the proposition that such an error was motivated by an intent to cut the corner of safety is, thankfully, not noted in recent experience.

The above link takes you to a story in which Levi Phillips of Carson Helicopters admits to having been involved in a fraud. His company submitted altered performance charts and falsified weight and balance records to the US Forest Service in order to win a contract. That’s a crime. Even worse, the data in those records were used, it is alleged, for a flight in which the helicopter operated in excess of its maximum take-off weight. That’s even worse.

A jury in a civil damage case found that the aircraft crashed due to an engine problem. If that is true, it may obviate or diminish the remaining defendant’s criminal liability.

Whatever happens in the pending criminal case is irrelevant to the plea here; that is, Mr. Phillips admitted that he submitted false information to the US Government. Such disregard of the principle of voluntary compliance tears at the fabric of the FAA regulatory regime.

That is most regrettable and is a salient reminder of the heavy burden of every certificate holder to apply the utmost effort to comply with the FARs.

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