Nov. 4, 2014, was the day an Air Methods Corp. EC135 would make its first of 51 passenger-carrying flights in one week. On that same day, an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector (ASI) had deemed that same aircraft “unairworthy."
Now, almost two years later, the FAA has handed Air Methods an $892,500 fine for the "unairworthy" Europcopter, according to an FAA news release. Citing four FAR violations, the civil penalty letter states that each one is worth a maximum of $27,500 in fines.
On the day of the initial inspection, the ASI performed a ramp inspection of the rotorcraft, which had the tail number N537BF, at the Air Methods base in Tampa, Florida.
"During this inspection the ASI observed that both pitot tubes were severely corroded," according to the penalty letter. Because of this, the aircraft was deemed “unairworthy.”
Between Nov. 4 and Nov. 11 the EC-135 made 51 passenger-carrying flights for compensation. Air Methods did not replace or repair the pitot tubes during that time, which led the FAA to cite that the flights were made “in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.”
According to a statement put out by the emergency air medical provider, Air Methods is further investigating the FAA’s allegations and is cooperating fully.