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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: Flawed Air Tour Maintenance Cited

COMMERCIAL | TOURISM

Operators and the FAA should crack down on faulty maintenance practices involved in two recent accidents that are common in air tours, according to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

That is based on probes into the March 8, 2007 crash of a Heli-USA Eurocopter AS350BA1 in Princeville, Hawaii that killed four and a Sept. 11, 2002 Heli-USA AS350BA crash in Peach Springs, Ariz. Board investigators believe in the 2007 crash a hydraulic servo became detached because mechanics installed it wrong, failed to inspect it and missed the error in subsequent checks. The 2002 crash occurred in part because a hydraulic pump was not lubricated and failed, the board found.

The NTSB told the Tour Operators Program of Safety and FAA its probes revealed "Heli-USA’s ineffective maintenance, inadequate quality assurance programs" and the FAA’s " lack of surveillance." It "reviewed other air tour operators’ maintenance programs and found similar issues with most of the operators."

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