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Sat, Apr 24, 2021

FAA Revokes Repair Station Certificate of Apple International Inc. of Tennessee

Richard Harper Entered A Guilty Plea To One Count Of Attempted Aircraft Parts Fraud

The FAA proposes to revoke the repair station certificate of Apple International Inc., of Bristol, Tenn.

The FAA alleges that Apple’s owner instructed employees to remove the identification plate from one Bell Helicopter and put it on a different Bell Helicopter without the approval of the FAA. Changing the aircraft’s identification plate had the effect of misrepresenting the identity of the aircraft to potential purchasers.

Additionally, Apple’s owner pleaded guilty in September 2020 to attempted aircraft-parts fraud. Federal law requires the FAA to revoke a certificate when an individual who has a controlling or ownership interest in a certificate holder is convicted of certain aviation-related crimes, including parts fraud.

On June 16, 2020, Richard Paul Harper, 67, of Norwich, Great Britain, entered a guilty plea to one count of attempted aircraft parts fraud in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville.

As part of the written plea agreement, Harper admitted that he obtained a helicopter with significant damage to its underbelly. Instead of performing necessary, costly repairs, the fuselage of the helicopter was switched with the fuselage of another helicopter that had crashed in New Jersey, and the original data plates were affixed to the fuselage of that helicopter. This data plate switch caused the true history of the helicopter to be concealed. Harper, with intent to defraud, actively marketed and tried to sell the resulting helicopter with switched data plates to unsuspecting purchasers.

Ultimately, Harper attempted to sell the helicopter to an undercover agent posing as an aircraft broker. During the attempt, Harper concealed the true history of the aircraft and coordinated the provision of fraudulent maintenance records to the undercover agent. Following the filing of a criminal complaint and the issuance of an arrest warrant, agents arrested Harper when he entered the United States in Los Angeles, California on January 24, 2020, on his way to a national helicopter convention.

Apple International has 15 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

FMI: www.faa.gov, www.appleheli.com

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