A Provo-based company that provides medical helicopter rescue services will have to wait at least three months to find out if it is guilty of any of 120 possible safety violations uncovered by a recent federal inspection.
But a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said Rocky Mountain Helicopter is now complying with all federal safety regulations.An evaluation is continuing to determine whether the company committed any violations, and if so, what action will be taken, said Richard Meyer, public affairs officer for the FAA Northwest Mountain Region.
A final report is not likely to be issued for at least three to four months, he said. But the FAA is convinced the firm is now operating safely.
"Our continued surveillance has shown Rocky Mountain is a safe operation," Meyer said in a telephone interview from his Seattle office. "It has been determined the company is meeting all safety standards."
That's exactly what Rocky Mountain officials have been saying since 120 findings of possible violation of federal safety regulations were made public last month.
"I believe we're a safe operation, and I always have," said Rocky Mountain vice president Don Andrews. "In fact the (FAA) northwest region has said they found nothing regarding flight safety that would cause them to feel we should not be operating."
Rocky Mountain was scrutinized for 32 days earlier this year by a team from the FAA's National Aviation Safety Inspection Program.
The probe was the first the FAA conducted on a firm that provides medical helicopter equipment since Congress pressured the agency to take measures to reduce the number of accidents involving rescue helicopters.
Most of the 120 alleged violations involved paperwork and record keeping deficiencies, but some involved improper training and licensing of pilots, lack of some safety equipment and improper handling of hazardous materials.
Rocky Mountain officials point out that the company has not been cited for any violations at this point. They said the company reduced its emergency medical services accident rate by 50 percent over the past two years through improved safety training, despite doubling the size of its Aeromedical Group during that period.
They also insist Rocky Mountain took prompt action to correct the problems as soon as they were identified by inspectors.
"They (the FAA) will determine what is serious and what's not," Andrews said. "But everything we felt was an issue was corrected on the spot."
The company has been examining the findings of violation and will send its comments to the FAA this week, Andrews said.
Depending on the number and seriousness of the violations included in the FAA's final report, the agency could take enforcement action against Rocky Mountain.
Rocky Mountain, headquartered at the Provo Municipal Airport, is described as the country's largest provider of medical helicopter rescue crews and equipment. The company supplies helicopters, pilots and mechanics to about one-third of the nation's 235 emergency medical evacuation programs in 46 states.