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Safe Air Charter Operations

Safe Air Charter Illegal air charter operations pose a serious safety hazard to the traveling public. The FAA works aggressively to identify and shut down rogue operators and to help passengers ensure the company they hire is legitimate.

Air charter operations — also known as commuter and on demand operations — require a higher level of FAA pilot training and certification, aircraft maintenance procedures, and operational safety rules, than pilots who may take family or friends for an airplane ride. FAA inspectors perform more frequent periodic checks on air charter companies’ pilots, crewmembers and aircraft than they do on private pilot operations. And charter companies’ crewmembers must undergo regular proficiency checks to maintain their FAA certifications.

The FAA has taken a number of actions to ensure FAA aviation inspectors are equipped with the tools and knowledge they need to investigate illegal charter operations. The agency formed a Special Emphasis Investigations Team to investigate complex cases; partners with the National Air Transportation Association (NATA)'s Air Charter Safety Foundation to help identify possible illegal operations; and continues to collaborate with industry trade associations to educate pilots and operators to ensure they understand all of the rules that apply to charter operations.

Red Flags that Indicate a Company May Not Be a Legitimate Operator

  • If the company provides the aircraft and at least one crewmember, yet attempts to transfer operational control to a consumer via any document.
  • A lack of Federal Excise Tax charged to the consumer. Legitimate operators have to charge this. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
  • A lack of a safety briefing or passenger briefing cards.
  • Any evasiveness to questions or concerns. Legitimate operators should be transparent and helpful.
  • If the pilot or someone associated with the company coaches passengers on what to say or do if an FAA aviation inspector meets the aircraft at its destination.

If You Suspect Illegal Air Charter Operations, Report It

All reports are forwarded to and reviewed by the FAA.

If you decide that chartering an aircraft is right for you, do your research. Illegal air charter operations pose serious safety hazards, and the FAA works aggressively to identify and shut down rogue operators. Legal/licensed air charter operators (MS Excel) incur relatively high overhead costs to maintain the aircraft, train and test crew members, and stay compliant with FAA and TSA regulations. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

It's important to verify the legitimacy of the charter operator before you before you book your flight. When paying for an Air Charter, ask to see the Operator's Air Carrier or Operating Certificate to validate that the aircraft has authorization for charter use. If the operator refuses to allow you to see the required authorization, look for a charter operator willing to provide you with that information. Before entering into an aircraft lease, ensure you understand and are willing to accept your responsibilities for compliance with air safety regulations.

Learn more about Chartering an Aircraft, A Consumer Guide to Help You Fly Smarter (PDF).

Date Enforcement Action
Sep 3, 2021 FAA Proposes $339,716 Civil Penalty Against Slice of the 406 LLC, 82 and Sunny LLC, and Associated Parties in Montana and Minnesota
Aug 27, 2021 FAA Proposes $617,100 Fine Against Interstate Helicopters for Alleged Illegal Charter Operations
Aug 23, 2021 FAA proposes a $2,191,938 civil penalty against Indy Jet Management LLC and other associated parties in Indiana for allegedly conducting illegal charter flights.
Aug 05, 2021 FAA Proposes $1.2M in Civil Penalties Against Five Companies for Alleged Illegal Charter Flights
Jun 28, 2021 Jury finds Webster aviation company liable for violating FAA regulations: Ascent Aviation Solutions LLC and its owner ordered to pay nearly $240,000 in penalties for violating safety regulations
Jun 04, 2021 FAA Revokes Certificate of Florida-Based Universal Flight Services for Alleged Illegal Charter Flights
Mar 12, 2021 FAA Proposes $115,500 Civil Penalty Against Fenix Air Charter of South Carolina
Jan 25, 2021 Press Release — FAA Proposes $1 Million Civil Penalty Against Weathervane Aviation Services for Alleged Illegal Charters
Sep 04, 2020 FAA Proposes $247,000 Civil Penalty Against the Collings Foundation for Allegedly Conducting Unauthorized Flights
Aug 21, 2020 FAA Proposes $576,400 Civil Penalty Against Florida-based Bluefin Aviation Services for Alleged Illegal
Jul 10, 2020 FAA Proposes $101,250 Civil Penalty Against Exodus Aircraft LLC of Wilmington, Del.
May 20, 2020 FAA Proposes $5.89 Million Civil Penalty Against Humes McCoy Aviation of Atlanta, Ga., for Alleged Illegal
Apr 03, 2020 FAA Proposes $1.5 Million Civil Penalty Against B E L Aviation of Odessa, Texas for Alleged Illegal Charter F
Mar 11, 2020 FAA Revokes Operating Certificate of Paradigm Air Operators for Alleged Illegal Charter Flights
Dec 19, 2019 Agency emphasizes an FAA policy about requirements for pilots who are paid to fly passengers: FAA Issues Important Charter Guidance to Pilots and Passengers
Dec 19, 2019 FAA Issues Important Charter Guidance to Pilots and Passengers

Test your knowledge of Safe Air Charter Operations with these interactive scenarios.

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