FAA Seeks Sanctions Against Air Methods and Helicopter Services of Nevada for Deadly Arizona Helicopter Crash
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced Tuesday that they will seek sanctions against companies involved in a 2010 LifeNet medical helicopter crash in Tucson, Arizona that killed three people. An FAA spokesman said the agency will seek $50,625 in civil penalties against Air Methods, parent company LifeNet Arizona and the helicopter's operator, accusing them of breaking several federal aviation rules prior to the fatal chopper crash. The FAA will also seek a $25,000 civil penalty against Helicopter Services of Nevada for faulty maintenance practices.
On June 28, 2010, the LifeNet helicopter departed from Marana, Arizona en route to Douglas when the chopper fell roughly 600 feet straight down into a Tucson backyard and immediately burst into flames. Pilot Alexander Kelley, 61, flight nurse Parker Summons, 41, and paramedic Brenda French, 28, were all killed in the crash.
The proposed sanctions come on the heels of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report that said the crash was likely caused by "a contract mechanic's mistake and a lack of proper inspection and testing of his work." The NTSB report goes on to say that prior to the crash, the contract mechanic with Helicopter Services likely only "finger-tightened" bolts rather than using a torque wrench during maintenance work. Furthermore, the maintenance work was not properly inspected by other maintenance personnel, and an on-duty pilot responsible for the post-maintenance inspection failed to follow the manufacturer's safety protocols.
According to the Denver Post, Air Methods has stated they will appeal any FAA sanctions.