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Red Eagle Aviation could be fined by FAA

By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
Published On: Mar 07 2014 04:17:11 PM MST
Updated On: Mar 07 2014 05:46:40 PM MST
KALISPELL, Mont. -

The Federal Aviation Administration claims the business that runs the Kalispell City Airport, Red Eagle Aviation, did not follow federal guidelines for maintenance on one of their choppers.

Just last fall, Kalispell voters turned down a plan to expand and upgrade the airport.

On January 1, Red Eagle Aviation took over managing the airport. The very next day, we found out the FAA planned to fine Red Eagle $90,000 for not keeping up on required maintenance for one of its choppers.

Scott Davis says he hears planes and helicopters fly over his Kalispell home all the time. Davis is the spokesperson for Quiet Skies of Kalispell, a group that fought against the proposed expansion of the city airport.

Davis is upset with Red Eagle Aviation, a flight training school run out of the Kalispell City Airport.

What concerns Davis is where Red Eagle is training its new pilots.

"I would hope they would train their pilots over farm land instead of over the residents of Kalispell," said Davis.

But now, Davis sees another problem. The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a civil penalty against Red Eagle Aviation, for not keeping up on required maintenance of one of its helicopters. The FAA claims the chopper wasn't air-worthy.

Required maintenance on the helicopter's tail and rotors wasn't done from May of 2011 to May of 2013 for over 80 flights.

We reached out to Red Eagle to see what they had to say about the potential penalty, but they declined to comment on it, as it is an ongoing investigation.

Because of this new allegation, Davis believes they should start flying the helicopters in a different direction, away from residents homes.

"We're hoping they would lift off of the airport, follow the highway out south of Kalispell until they've reached the city limits and the FAA height elevation, and then they can go anywhere they want," Davis said.

This is the only penalty the company has ever faced that we could find.

As for where Red Eagle is flying, that isn't against any FAA rule. But the change is one Davis believes is important for not just him, but the entire community.

"If Red Eagle is found in violation of FAA rules, that is a very serious charge.  They are hundreds or thousands of pounds of material over day cares, our schools, our playgrounds, our backyards -- it's just irresponsible," said Davis.