The Parachute Center in Acampo could be fined $664,000 after the Federal Aviation Administration accused the center of failing to replace aircraft parts promptly and comply with safety requirements, according to the FAA.
The FAA proposes the civil penalty against Bill Dause, owner of The Parachute Center off Highway 99, because he allegedly didn’t replace parts on one aircraft within the FAA’s deadline in 2008 and 2009. The part replacements have since been made, according to an FAA news release.
“Putting parachutists at risk by neglecting to follow safety procedures is unacceptable,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a news release. “We expect aircraft operators to comply with our safety rules and will take enforcement action when they do not.”
When contacted by the News-Sentinel on Thursday morning, Dause replied, “No comment.”
Dause has 30 days from receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond.
Despite several fatal accidents at The Parachute Center the past several years, the FAA’s allegations are not connected to any of the fatalities, FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.
The FAA alleges that The Parachute Center, located between Jahant and Peltier roads, operated a DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter plane more than 2,100 times without replacing parts that were “well past their life limits.”
Dause reportedly operated the plane in 2008 and 2009 without replacing the elevator control cables, which make the plane go up or down, according to the FAA.
Dause also operated the plane about 500 times in 2009 without replacing aileron control cables, which control the plane’s turning mechanism, the FAA claims.
“Every airplane has a maintenance program they have to follow,” said Buck Rodger, CEO for My Aviation Expert, a Los Angeles firm that deems itself as just that — an aviation expert — consisting of experienced airline pilots with senior management roles.
“It can endanger passengers (if parts aren’t replaced),” Rodger said.
The alleged violations were “careless or reckless so as to endanger the life or property of another,” according to a letter sent to Dause this week by Lierre M. Green, an FAA attorney.
Dause will be entitled to a hearing before a U.S. Department of Transportation administrative law judge, according to the FAA website. The judge’s decision may be appealed to the FAA administrator, and ultimately to a U.S. Court of Appeal.
Dause’s fine is a big one, Rodger said, but there have been bigger ones, such as those against Southwest Airlines and American Airlines.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.