Levi Phillips, director of maintenance for Carson Helicopters Services, pleaded guilty on September 23 in the U.S. District Court in Medford, Oregon, for his role in falsifying documents pertaining to a Sikorsky S-61N helicopter owned and operated by Carson. Two company executives were indicted earlier this year in relation to the crash.
Improper loading based upon false weight-and-balance and takeoff performance documentation was cited as the cause of a 2008 crash of a Carson helicopter that killed a United States Forest Service (USFS) employee during contracted firefighting services.
An NTSB 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. Carson pilots then relied on these altered and/or falsified documents when determining their helicopter maximum payload calculations.
The USFS subsequently awarded Carson firefighting contracts valued at more than $20 million in mid-2008.