Audit finds problems with TVA helicopter fleet

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – An audit found problems with the Tennessee Valley Authority’s use of its helicopter fleet.

The utility’s own inspector general says TVA did not follow federal travel regulations and TVA policy on passenger flights. Auditors found that TVA lacked documentation when it came to justifying and authorizing the use of those helicopters.

Looking at specific flights, auditors found 19 that did not appear to be “cost beneficial” because of the short distances. Five of those were between Knoxville and Chattanooga. Auditors say the cost, around $1,000 per flight, was significantly greater than driving and saved a minimal amount of time – 15 to 24 minutes.

The audit focused on how TVA helicopters are used, but not on the issue raised by watchdog group the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, TVA’s purchase of a helicopter that the group describes as a luxury model, formerly owned by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

The group highlighted an audit earlier in the year on TVA fixed-wing planes, finding TVA’s reasons for the purchase of the jets was not cost effective.

TVA said Wednesday they disagree with several of the findings and recommendations of both audits, but they agree the recent report supports their efforts to improve documentation and recordkeeping.

“TVA is committed to conducting its mission of service in a safe and fiscally responsible manner,” read their statement.