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Facing a $664,000 fine

FFA alleges The Parachute Center in Acampo operated plane more than 2,100 times without replacing parts

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Bill Dause

Posted: Friday, October 15, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 6:16 am, Sat Oct 16, 2010.

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.

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  • Tom Santillan posted at 12:12 am on Wed, Oct 20, 2010.

    Tom Santillan Posts: 34

    wow....all this discussion on plane safety.....those clowns didn't comply....fine them....enough to put them out of business, no....that's not necessary.....next time, fix it on time, period....

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 2:11 pm on Sat, Oct 16, 2010.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    On a sidenote, Mr Kinderman, It is a pleasure discussing a disagreement in such a way that makes me examine my own thinking because of your opposing view stated in a thoughtful way. I am now thinking that maybe a fine could be justified under some circumstances, depending on the details Ross Farrow left out as you stated, but I would prefer the money be spent on a solution that results in a safe airplane.
    I also am of the opinion that government is so influenced by politics, that many fines and penalties are intended to be punitive and controlling as a result of the political motivations.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 6:29 am on Sat, Oct 16, 2010.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    In this instance the FAA is well within not only its jurisdiction to impose such fines…I agree with this as well...

    What are the facts? Does the business have a history of safety violations where it refuses to comply unless forced? Is this the first time a safety violation has been charged? Have there been real past damages to others as a result of negligence? Of course Jerome is correct in stating In this instance (as well as all cases)the FAA is well within not only its jurisdiction to impose such fines, and has a responsibility to do so. However, I see government fines as a fear factor to intimidate and control, because the common good for all of us can be achieved without one penny in fines in step one. If the business refuses to solve the safety concerns, then step 2, do not fine the company, force it to shut it down.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 6:10 am on Sat, Oct 16, 2010.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Jerome, may I ask, if the government can achieve its goal and satisfy our concern for safety, without a fine , why the fine. If the government required this business to use the money to make all needed repair and updates to make the airplane completely safe, wouldnt that be a better use of that money. The only possible reason I see the fine could be valuable is if the government wanted to put the business out of business because they subjected the public to unreasonable risk. I do agree with you that is a primary example where we do need the government if there ever was one. I am making a point that if safety is a concern in this case, the fine should be applied to what would make the public safe, which is a first class airplane.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 5:54 am on Sat, Oct 16, 2010.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    From where I sit, the "box" is The Parachute Center. And we really don't need to be concerned about clearing out Washington to address what happened here. No politician forced the owners of this business to disobey the law; laws put there for not only their protection, but for their customers (those who willingly jump out of perfectly good airplanes based upon the belief AND hope that safety is their first concern) and for those on the ground who live nearby and drive along Highway 99 so very close to where these aircraft and sports people take off and land.

    This is a prime example as to why we actually "need" our government. I'm afraid that many now believe that because of the overpowering of the government in areas where they don't belong, now the pendulum has swung so far that they actually believe that NO government is what we really need. Even the Founders recognized the need for a limited government.

    In this instance the FAA is well within not only its jurisdiction to impose such fines, but clearly within its responsibility to do so. Absent a follow-up story by Mr. Farrow to fill in some of the salient facts, I hold firm in my opinion that the government has done no wrong here. If proved otherwise, I will certainly revisit the matter.

  • Mike Hines posted at 2:05 am on Sat, Oct 16, 2010.

    Mike Hines Posts: 4

    Think outside the box. in your post four words tell me enough-- "disobedience" and "failure to comply" Keep following the program buddy, thats what they want you to do.

  • Manuel Martinez posted at 12:13 am on Sat, Oct 16, 2010.

    Manuel Martinez Posts: 641

    Mike's proposition is completely beside the point regarding the compliance of safety regulations and how we enforce it. What message does it send to passively forgive an organization or entity that violated safety regulations designed for consumer protection for 2 years? If anything, it perpetuates incidents of disobedience and it logically follows to impose a fine for the failure to comply. Removing everyone from Washington has no bearing on the subject matter.

    I will agree with Darrell that the fee should be modest; not the maximum that can be charged, so as to not put the company out of business.

  • Mike Hines posted at 10:26 pm on Fri, Oct 15, 2010.

    Mike Hines Posts: 4

    My reaction to this story is also about the possible fine. Sure we need some safety checks in place. What we do not need are a bunch of out of control govt agencies dropping the hammer. What we do need is a complete cleaning out of washington dc! 500 something people are controlling 300 million. There is so little we can do without paying some flippin tax its sickeneing.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 8:45 pm on Fri, Oct 15, 2010.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Actually, I agree with Jerome and Martinez on all points except one... the monetary fine that would basically put them out of business. When Jerome states " they've got to be able to force people involved in the industry to understand just how serious even a small infraction might be" , I couldn’t agree more. However, you can do that by shutting the business down at any time, until it is problem is fixed, then let the business resume. If I owned the business and couldn’t operate until all safety concerns of the FAA were met, I would take action. The public would be protected, and the business would be able to still be in business. The fine is not needed. Of course the FFA has a right to levy a fine... just as legally, the Mosque can be built at ground zero. Legalities are important but so is doing what is right. the right thing to do. I appreciate anyone who supports promoting public safety and wanting government to provide an environment to foster success fairly and equally to its citizens. However, I do not appreciate the direction that this government has gone. No fine was needed to achieve the FFA’s goal of safety.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 6:33 pm on Fri, Oct 15, 2010.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    By the way, those control cables mentioned in the sidebar to the story are pretty important (even I know that). To go over 2,100 flights beyond the required time (over two years!) to replace the elevator cables seems a tad irresponsible, no?

  • Manuel Martinez posted at 6:31 pm on Fri, Oct 15, 2010.

    Manuel Martinez Posts: 641

    I agree with Kinderman(rare as that is) that the parachute center is responsible for complying with safety regulations in a timely manner. The FAA has every right to levy a fine for their failure to comply to safety standards, and while it may present a problem for the center's operation, the fault nonetheless belongs to them.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 6:25 pm on Fri, Oct 15, 2010.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Mr. Baumbach, I agree completely with you regarding the overreaching by the government - it has gotten out of control. But when it comes to the FAA (that oversees the safety of air travel), they've got to be able to force people involved in the industry to understand just how serious even a small infraction might be. Of all governmental agencies empowered to levy fines, the FAA should be able to impose the most; the inherent risk is far too great.

    In this particular instance, it states that the business "operated [one] plane more than 2,100 times without replacing parts." Now, I have no idea how many flights per day they utilized that one aircraft, but unless I'm way off base here that's a whole lot of elapsed time (and worn-down parts) without adhering to the FAA mandates regarding replacement. How much is one airplane load of jumpers’ worth if something catastrophic occurred that would have them trapped inside with their chutes still strapped on their backs?

    What’s mysteriously missing from this story are specifics regarding what the FAA tried to do to get The Parachute Center to comply before deciding on fining them. How many letters were mailed or inspections conducted before the decision was made to essentially bankrupt this little business? Mr. Farrow leaves us hanging in that regard. I wonder if just didn’t ask the questions or was there not enough space to print the answers. What do you say, Mr. Farrow?

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 5:31 pm on Fri, Oct 15, 2010.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Jerome,If the FAA pursues the maximum allowable in this case I doubt the Lodi Parachute Center would be able to survive...
    My blog was in reaction to the large fine. I agree with oversight and regulations by the government, but to me, grounding the plane from any flights until it is satisfactory to the FSA would have been sufficient from my perspective. The bad publicity of unsafe conditions would be enough, assuming this was a first time offence. My comments about our government wanting to inflict fear, intimidation and control over our lives is not in referrence to only the FFA, but the overall scheme of things; the IRS, FFA,FDA excessive compliance in all industries , etc... to me, its all very heavy handed.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 10:25 am on Fri, Oct 15, 2010.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    A question I have for Mr. Dause is why didn't he follow the rules? I think I can safely assume that due to the economy, fewer people are opting to jump out of airplanes (with parachutes anyway), but he evidently was able to comply once he was caught.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 10:01 am on Fri, Oct 15, 2010.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Mr. Baumbach and Mr. Hines, I must respectfully disagree. If the story is accurate in that this aircraft was flown 2,100 times without having certain parts replaced pursuant to FAA rules, this is a very serious situation. Correct, the plane didn't crash. Why not? In my opinion, blind luck.

    Of course, what would be the sentiment had the plane actually hit the ground due to worn-out parts and someone had died? While I agree that the FAA has some very stupid rules (e.g., having our seatbacks in the upright and locked position before take-off and landing in commercial aircraft), when it comes to the actual safety of the passengers being ferried about (for whatever reason) when those rules are ignored, a serious message needs to be conveyed.

    If the FAA pursues the maximum allowable in this case I doubt the Lodi Parachute Center would be able to survive (it appears that a decision in the amount of the fine has not yet been made, only what “could” be levied). But whose fault will that be? I jumped out of one of their airplanes back in the 1990s. I accepted the risks involved in such a dangerous venture, the crashing of the plane because of FAA violations not being one of them.

    Politically speaking, while I am a fiscal conservative when it comes to our government, the purpose served here by the FAA is for oversight, not intimidation and control.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 6:14 am on Fri, Oct 15, 2010.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Our government desires to inflict fear,, intimidation and control over our lives.
    They make examples of a few in order to manipulate and control us. I was sorry to read this story.

  • Mike Hines posted at 12:36 am on Fri, Oct 15, 2010.

    Mike Hines Posts: 4

    Tell the faa to shove it. The plane never crashed, didn't cost the gov't a dime yet. So they are owed 600k for what? oh yeah, 600k to pay for their fat jobs!!!! REVOLT



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