Three LA Times Articles–about California Helicopter crashes–open questions

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Flight school involved in helicopter crash at John Wayne Airport also operated copter in fatal Newport crash, under different name

SEP 04, 2018 

FAA investigated safety complaints about company that operated helicopter that crashed into Newport Beach home, documents show

FEB 06, 2018

‘Tragic loss’: 3 people killed aboard helicopter in Newport Beach crash are identified

JAN 31, 2018

Three articles in The Los Angeles Times tie together two accidents connecting them because the helicopters were operated by the same company Revolution Helicopter. As the below pictures show both aircraft had its “tag line “@iEatSleepFly” painted on their fuselages. What is the distinction between the FAA authority under which they were being operated.

The two aircraft are listed as Revolution Helicopter as the operator. The Robinson R44 Raven II, N7530R,  which crashed in January 18,2018 was flown the day of the accident under Part 91. [leased the R44 copter from Spitzer Helicopter LLC of Canyon Lake in Riverside County].The Guimbal Cabri G2 had the d/b/a “@iEatSleepFly” but was being flown under OneAbove Revolution’s Part 141 authority. The operations are now all listed on OneAbove Aviation’s website, but that space makes it clear that Revolution, OneAbove and @iEatSleepFly re all the same.

The R44 crash had Joseph Anthony Tena (“Pepe) as its pilot and he had earned his private pilot license in August 2014. Tena also had an ownership stake in Revolution Aviation; so, he could fly under Part 91.

The article published in February 2018 as a follow up should be reviewed again. The Times reported

During a review of the R44 helicopter that eventually went down in Newport Beach, a maintenance inspector found that safety wiring on the engine’s valve covers did not meet FAA standards, the cooling fan nut spring pin (which helps keep the engine cooling fan in place) was not aligned with indicator marks on the aircraft, and torque striping required by the helicopter’s maintenance manual was missing on multiple critical fasteners, according to the memo. The striping makes movement of the fasteners easier to spot.

Jeffrey Rafferty, who at the time was the principal maintenance inspector with the FAA in Long Beach, wrote in the memo that he also substantiated some “nonspecific allegations in the complaint with regard to the operation of several helicopters that may not be in airworthy condition.”

For example, Rafferty wrote, a helicopter was flown after the deadline for its annual inspection had passed, which is against FAA regulations. He also wrote that some helicopter maintenance wasn’t being documented as required by the agency.

Rafferty went on to say that “Revolution Aviation has addressed all of the discrepancies brought to their attention by the [aviation safety inspectors] during the investigation and put new processes in place to reduce the likeliness of reoccurrence.”

Jack Cress, a technology instructor at USC who teaches courses on helicopter and other aircraft accident investigations, said FAA investigations of the type performed on Revolution Aviation are not unusual.

He said the findings about the R44 helicopter weren’t particularly egregious. However, he said, it “certainly would be an invitation for a need for more scrutiny.”

“Anytime you run across something like that, it could imply a lack of attention to detail,” he said.

There is no NTSB report yet; so, it would be premature to reopen the earlier files to review the prior maintenance issue. Hopefully, the FAA did adopt Mr. Cress’ suggestion for more scrutiny.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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