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Former Carson Helicopter Director of Maintenance Pleads Guilty

On September 23, 2013, Levi Phillips, Director of Maintenance for Carson Helicopters Services, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Medford, Oregon, for his role in falsifying documents pertaining to a Sikorsky S-61N helicopter, tail number N612AZ, owned and operated by Carson. 

In 2008, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) briefed OIG regarding its ongoing safety investigation of a Carson helicopter crash. The crash resulted in the death of a United States Forest Service employee (USFS) and crashed while performing contracted firefighting services. NTSB's safety investigation of the crash raised allegations regarding Carson's falsification of documents pertaining to N612AZ, which included weight and balance sheets and performance charts that enable a pilot to make accurate maximum payload calculations. The investigation determined that Carson submitted falsified and/or altered documents to the USFS as a part of its bid package, which included an altered FAA-approved performance chart and weight and balance charts. The USFS subsequently awarded Carson firefighting contracts valued in excess of $20 million dollars in mid-2008. Carson pilots then relied on these altered and/or falsified documents when determining their helicopter maximum payload calculations.