Aviation Mechanic Convicted for Role in Fraudulent Parts Repairs
On May 19, 2011, after a four-day trial in U.S. District Court, Dallas, Texas, a federal jury found Dennis R. Lauterbach, a former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-licensed mechanic, guilty of fraudulently altering the historical service record for main rotor helicopter blades he sold in 2005. Mr. Lauterbach was immediately remanded to custody.
Mr. Lauterbach obscured the service records that revealed the blades had been rejected for skin debonding and recommended that they be scraped. Mr. Lauterbach concealed this information by making an entry in the service record that he "profiled the spar leading edge" and refinished the blade's paint. He used an Airframe and Powerplant certificate number issued to him by FAA to sign off on the service record entry in an effort to conceal maintenance problems with the blades. The rotor blades were purchased from Mr. Lauterbach for $42,000 in 2005 and installed on a Bell helicopter owned by a North Carolina man for use in a helicopter sightseeing business. When the blades could not be balanced properly a secondary inspection of the blades revealed their true condition. The customer returned the blades to Mr. Lauterbach for a refund before they were used in flight.
Mr. Lauterbach is expected to appear for sentencing on September 8, 2011. This investigation was conducted with assistance from FAA's Dallas Fight Standards District Office.