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You are Safety's Gatekeeper | Article Reply From a Reader

Posted 4 years 99 days ago ago by Randy Mains


I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your article in the May/June 2018 issue of Rotorcraft Pro entitled You are Safety’s Gatekeeper where you talk about the Liberty Helicopters’ FlyNYON aircraft that crashed in New York’s East River causing five people to lose their lives.  This article struck home with me because I could personally relate as I am sure it did with many of my colleagues.

From 2003-2007, I worked for a part 135 company as their only helicopter pilot.  They had a BH260B3 and an Agusta 109A.  They also had several small jets.  As their only helo pilot, I was on-call 24/7/365.  After I mustered up the courage to confront my boss and tell him we were in direct violation of the FAR’s, his response was predictable telling me,  “I know what the FAR says.  I also know I have a desk full of resumes from pilots who want your job.”  I had to decide whether to feed my family or willfully violate the FAR’s.  I chose the latter.  When the POI came for a routine inspection, I presented the issue to him.  His response really surprised me, telling me,  “Most 135 companies do that same thing.” 

So that was it for me.   

It truly is a case of nobody caring until metal gets bent or someone gets hurt or dies.  Then the feds will take FAR 91.3 (and other regs I’m sure) and end a career a pilot has taken a lifetime to build. 

Helicopter pilots are paid to make tough, life or death decisions.   This should not include deciding to willingly violate an FAR for the sake of keeping a job.  It appears to me like the 135 operators and POI’s (Principle Operations Inspectors) are “in bed” together if they know this and do nothing to stop the practice.

I now fly for a 121 major airline and obviously the climate is much different in the fixed-wing world.  Looking back, I’m just glad I survived my 135 air taxi years with my “ticket” intact.  Keep up the good work!

Randy Mains is an author, public speaker, and a CRM/AMRM consultant who works in the helicopter industry after a long career of aviation adventure. He currently serves as chief CRM/AMRM instructor for Oregon Aero. He may be contacted at [email protected].