Council has flight service on agenda | SteamboatToday.com
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Council has flight service on agenda

But staff wants to table ordinance until Feb. 3

Christine Metz

City staff is recommending the Steamboat Springs City Council table an ordinance allowing Mountain Flight Services to transfer its maintenance operations at the Steamboat Springs Airport to another business.

On Jan. 6, the council passed the first reading of the ordinance 4-3 after a heated debate. Three council members — Steve Ivancie, Susan Dellinger and Ken Brenner — used a letter provided by Warren Harner, a resident and commercial pilot, to argue for opposing the ordinance. The council members said Harner’s letter indicated the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the company and the Steamboat Springs Airport.

The FAA and the NTSB have since said the council members were mistaken; neither agency is investigating Mountain Flight Service or the airport.

At a Jan. 13 council meeting, Bob Maddox — who owns Mountain Flight Service with his wife, Cindy — chastised council members for their conduct at the previous meeting. He said the council members who opposed the ordinance wrongly used Harner’s letter to make assumptions and draw conclusions about his business that were inaccurate.

“We are not trying to hide anything,” Maddox said. “We did not expect to get ambushed when we came into the meeting, and we think that we were.”

The second reading of the ordinance amending the Mountain Flight Service agreement is on tonight’s agenda. Staff recommends tabling the ordinance until the Feb. 3 council meeting.

In a memo to City Council, city staff said an agreement between Mountain Flight Services Inc. and Mountain Aircraft Maintenance has not been finalized and that the city should not approve the ordinance until a final agreement is in place.

Mountain Flight Services, which is the vendor contracted to operate the Yampa Valley Air Ambulance, wants to sell the aircraft-maintenance portion of its business to Mountain Aircraft Maintenance, owned by James Mann.

Some council members turned what should have been a simple business matter into a personal attack at the Jan. 6 meeting, Maddox said. At that meeting, the council was presented with a letter from the FAA to Harner, which Harner said indicated the FAA was investigating operations at the airport, Mountain Flight Service and a crash of one of the business’s planes last March.

Two days after the meeting, David C. Bowling, regional director of the NTSB office in Denver, wrote to Mountain Flight Service stating that the NTSB had closed its investigation of the crash in September and was not investigating the business.

The FAA is in the process of responding to concerns Harner raised in letters to the agency. On Dec. 31, the FAA informed Harner that it would respond by Jan. 31 and that in the future, his concerns should be accompanied by specific documentation, including videotapes or photographs. The FAA said such a response is routine and does not indicate an investigation.

At the Jan. 13 meeting, Maddox scolded Brenner, Dellinger and Ivancie for having copies of Harner’s letter and making calls to the NTSB before other council members received the information. He also asked why council members did not contact Mountain Flight Service before the meeting.

— To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com


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