The Federal Aviation Administration has failed in its attempt to impose civil fines on Rocky Mountain Helicopters, Provo, for allegedly not giving flight crews enough rest between missions.
The lawsuit was filed last year against the company, which provides emergency flights to hospitals. A non-jury trial was held before U.S. District Senior Judge Aldon J. Anderson on Dec. 5-7, 1988, and Anderson has now released his ruling.Rocky Mountain Helicopters did not violate the applicable regulation, he wrote.
He said a new regulation, not in effect at the time of the events in the suit, might have given different results if it had been in effect then and the same events transpired.
The previous regulation said a helicopter company should not make a flight assignment unless it provided for at least eight consecutive hours of rest during the 24 hours preceding the assignment's completion.
"This court does not read the operative term, `provides,' as imposing a strict liability upon Rocky Mountain for any violation of the eight-hour rest requirement," Anderson wrote.
The evidence showed that if a crew member evidently wasn't going to get eight hours of rest, "he was to call for relief help. The defendant provided backup crew members, on call 24 hours a day, that were available to replace a crew member when it became apparent that the required rest would not be received," Anderson wrote.
He added that if any violation of the prior rules occurred, they would have been independent actions by pilots contrary to company policy. "These violations cannot be imputed to the defendant for the purpose of recovering civil penalties."