Rotorcraft Update: Bad helo blades get father and son jail time

 - May 21, 2008, 10:13 AM

Bogus and illegally manufactured parts have long been a danger in aviation, but arrests and convictions of the peddlers are generally rare. However, a federal court in Los Angeles has convicted a father and son for falsifying the records for a set of salvaged rotor blades that ended up on a Bell 47 that crashed in New Zealand in 1995, killing the two occupants. Frank Curtis Cherry Jr., 57, pleaded guilty on charges of conspiracy to defraud the FAA and providing false statements to the government. He drew an 18-month sentence while his son, Frank Curtis Cherry III, pleaded guilty to giving false statements and received a 14-month sentence. The Cherrys ran a Torrance, Calif.-based aircraft parts business. A set of falsely documented rotor blades for a Bell 47 traced back to the pair was installed on the helicopter that crashed in New Zealand six years ago. Prosecutors said the father had an unlicensed mechanic illegally remanufacture three sets of rotor blades from salvaged blades that were to have been destroyed. The son logged the blades as having 621 hr of flight time when they really had 1,999 hr, prosecutors said.