DOINews: NPS: Grand Canyon Helicopter Mechanic Richard Gibson Receives DOI Safety Award

Last edited 09/05/2019

NPS helicopter mechanic Richard Gibson accepting his DOI safety award from NPS aviation-management specialist Meg Meg Gallagher.
National Park Service aviation-management specialist Meg Gallagher presents Grand Canyon helicopter mechanic Richard Gibson with a Department of the Interior Aviation Safety Airward. Photo by NPS.

National Park Service aviation-management specialist Meg Gallagher has presented Grand Canyon helicopter mechanic Richard Gibson with a DOI Aviation Safety Airward for actions he took last August.

On August 4, 2014, while assigned to the Pumice Fire Complex in Crater Lake National Park, Gibson conducted a preflight inspection of Grand Canyon Helicopter H-368PA and found cracks on the upper surface of the number 3 flex. Gibson immediately grounded the helicopter and, after reviewing the maintenance manual and speaking with a McDonnel-Douglass technical representative, reviewed pictures and deemed it necessary to replace the damaged flex beam.

The inspection Gibson undertook was a routine visual inspection where nothing is removed. A more in-depth inspection is conducted by an A&P (airframe and/or powerplant) mechanic during the 100-hour inspection, which was due approximately in the next 10 hours of flight time. All previous inspections for H-368PA had been up to date and no deficiencies had been found.

The previous day there was no evidence of damage during preflight to the number 3 flex beam during inspection. The aircraft flew 5.3 hours on August 3 and had no issues throughout the day's flight. Missions during the previous day consisted of firefighting crew transports, long line, bucket drops, medevac, and reconnaissance.

The flex beam was replaced by a qualified A&P mechanic on August 9; and after a maintenance flight and an approval by an Office of Aircraft Services Safety compliance specialist, the aircraft was placed back into service on August 10.

The attention to safety detail Gibson performed, and the replacement of the part, may have prevented a catastrophic failure of the helicopter while engaged in a mission. Based on his communication and interaction with the helicopter crew, as well as his safety-conscious attitude and actions, Gibson was awarded the Airward, departmental recognition of actions that promoted aviation safety or prevented an accident. Congratulations, Richard Gibson!

By: Meg Gallagher, aviation management specialist, NPS

Feb. 26, 2015

Related Links:

NPS-The Morning Report

NPS-Grand Canyon Helicopter Mechanic Richard Gibson Receives AirWard at Grand Canyon (2008)

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