The easy answer: the applicant is the Pilot in Command and is fully responsible for the safe operation of the aircraft, not the FAA check pilot. But what about when the check pilot attempts to simulate an engine failure by chopping the throttle? At that point, hasn’t the check pilot assumed control of the aircraft?

Well, that’s

Who can be held responsible for compensating the Mountain Lifeflight families, and who is immune from suit?   

Maintenance.  If faulty maintenance is proven to be the cause of this helicopter crash, the families can recover against the maintenance company, provided that the families can prove that the maintenance company was negligent.  There is

An A-Star AS350B air ambulance helicopter crashed November 14 at Doyle, California, killing the A-Star Helicopter that Crashed Saturdaythree crew members on board.  According to an article in the Reno Gazette Journal, the pilot made a distress call before the crash. That indicates that the pilot was likely experiencing a mechanical emergency. The photographs accompanying the article show that the wreckage was spread over a fairly large area.  That indicates that the pilot lost control of the helicopter well before he was able to attempt an emergency landing.

Under the circumstances, the NTSB will be looking at the helicopter’s


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Hawaii Helicopter - Jurvetson photoThe Hawaiian Helicopter Tour Industry is Big Business.   Each year, more than 1 million people take an aerial tour of Hawaii.  That equates to one out of every 10 visitors to the islands.  Most of the tours are in helicopters.  The business generates more than $200 million annually, and supports countless jobs.

A helicopter is a great way to take in the islands’ natural beauty.  And that is what the tour companies sell.  "Fly into the heart and heat of an active volcano" advertised one operator.  "Fly close enough to feel the waterfall’s cooling mist" offered another.

But the Helicopter Safety Record is Terrible.  Flying too close to the terrain features, tangling with the islands’ unpredictable "micro-weather," and substandard maintenance practices have resulted in a long list of fatal accidents. As a result, year after year, Hawaii’s aviation safety record stacks up


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