Despite dangerous dents, Utah air tour plane kept flying
A Moab, Utah company is facing a $161,500 penalty after it kept flying despite a Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) warning that its aircraft was unsafe.
Redtail Air Adventures allegedly took passengers on more than 100 flights using an aircraft that was not “in an airworthy condition,” according to the FAA.
The company is the only air tour operator permitted to fly directly above Southeast Utah's National Parks, allowing passengers to take aerial photographs of the Arches & Canyonlands, as well as the Tribal Park of Monument Valley.
An FAA inspector notified Redtail Air in December 2017 that a Cessna 207 had dents on the horizontal stabilizer that appeared to be excessive for safe flight and that the damage should be inspected using the Cessna Service Manual.
Instead, according to the FAA, Redtail operated the aircraft on three more for-hire flights until January 1, 2018, when the company inspected the damage, deemed it to be “negligible” and approved the aircraft for return to service without performing any repairs.
On March 7, 2018, the FAA reassessed the damage to the horizontal stabilizer using the Cessna Service Manual and found it was badly damaged due to multiple dents that had displaced metal and were larger than two inches in circumference. The Service Manual considered damage of this size not to be “negligible” and required the skin to be replaced. The damaged skin made the aircraft unairworthy.
The FAA alleges the company used the plane on approximately 137 for-hire flights between January 1, 2018, and March 8, 2018, when it was not in an airworthy condition.
Redtail has been "in communication" with the FAA about the case.