Lax inspection by the Federal Aviation Administration and poor maintenance on the part of two companies were cited by transportation officials probing nine Alaska deaths linked to helicopter-assisted logging.
The six crashes over the past 16 months have involved aircraft owned by CRI Helicopters Inc. of California and RMH Aerologging, owned by Rocky Mountain Helicopters Inc. of Utah.The National Transportation Safety Board in a report this week said FAA inspections fell through the cracks because the companies are based outside Alaska and FAA inspectors failed to visit the state or ask inspectors in Juneau to step in.
The safety board asked FAA for a broad safety investigation of the two companies. It also urged that Juneau-based inspectors be in charge of monitoring helicopters used in Southeast logging.
The companies say requiring Juneau-based inspectors to take jurisdiction of their helicopters was impractical.
Don Andrews, vice president of Rocky Mountain Helicopters, said Friday his aircraft were flown in 36 states and are overseen by FAA at Salt Lake City.
"We would prefer to deal with one (station)," Andrews said. Working with inspectors from all 36 states would be "very cumbersome," he said.