Is Justice Done?

Monday, May 5, 2008
By George Hatcher

It has been officially determined that helicoptor pilot Philip Heney’s death in a helicoptor crash is due to negligence by Skytech Aviation, who allowed the work of unlicensed mechanics to go unsupervised.

The accident happened hours after Skytech Aviation released the Robinson R22 after extensive maintenance.

John Horrell and licensed aircraft maintenance engineer Ronald Potts were found guilty of manslaughter of Heney, and injury of his passenger by failing to inspect the maintenance work. Each were fined and sentenced to 300 hours’ community service. (Potts $10,000; Horrell $25,000).

Compensation will be divided between the injury victim and the grieving family.

Heney’s widow, who wanted a prison sentence for Potts and Horrell, is disappointed in the verdict.

Although loss of main rotor control of R22 helicopters have been a known factor since before April 2, 1996 when the National Transportation Safety Board published a special investigation report, in this case, investigators concluded the R22 crashed because its tail-rotor drive shaft had been assembled incorrectly during maintenance by unlicensed mechanics whose work Horrell and Potts failed to properly inspect.

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