The NTSB recently released its Top 10 Most Wanted List of safety improvements for 2014. Aviation items on the list include distractions by portable electronic devices and the identification and reporting of hazardous weather conditions. Helicopter operations were also added to this year’s list, citing 1,470 helicopter accidents with 477 fatalities over the past decade.
In a unique ruling, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang sentenced pilot, Thomas Leroy Hauptman, to donate 500 hours of flight time as restitution for violations of the Lacey Act. Mr. Hauptman estimates that the flight time will cost him approximately $500,000, a sentence that he called, “expensive but fair”. Local news coverage indicates that Mr. Hauptman pleaded guilty to illegally transporting deer and mouflon rams between Maui and the mainland island of Hawaii. The Lacey Act, which dates back to 1900, is designed to protect native species by prohibiting the introduction of non-native species into an ecosystem.
In addition to FARs, pilots should always be cognizant of laws, regulations, and rules which regulate flight activities, including the transportation of cargo and live animals. Although Mr. Haputman might not have violated any Federal Aviation Regulations, he did illegally transport wild animals which resulted in a hefty fine. Before departing on flights involving the transportation of passengers, cargo, or animals, pilots should consult with an experienced aviation attorney who can research and advise them on any applicable laws governing the trip.