TapJets is claiming its technology is disrupting the private aviation market, however, it now faces a severe challenge to its operations from the FAA
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an Emergency Order of Revocation against TapJets, Inc. of Spring, Texas and Fargo, North Dakota, for allegedly conducting passenger-carrying flights using unqualified pilots and operating unauthorized aircraft.
In a release, The FAA alleges that between Sept. 28, 2016 and Jan. 22, 2017, TapJets operated 10 passenger-carrying flights with pilots who were unqualified. On one of those flights, the airman who served as second-in-command only had a student pilot certificate, when a commercial pilot certificate was required, the FAA alleges.
Additionally, the FAA alleges both TapJets’ President and its Director of Operations piloted several of these flights when either the crew was unqualified or the aircraft being used was unauthorized.
The FAA further alleges the company conducted 14 passenger-carrying flights with aircraft that it was not authorized to use because they were not listed on its air carrier certificate.
The FAA alleges TapJets knowingly used unqualified pilots, operated in a careless or reckless manner that endangered lives or property, and exhibited a cavalier attitude toward regulatory compliance. The Emergency Order of Revocation is effective immediately, and the company cannot conduct charter flights while the order is in effect.
According to Flight Safety Foundation, TapJets plans to fight back. The website reported TapJets is claiming the flights cited by the FAA were not charter operations but were conducted free for friends and relatives during the initial development of the company; the flights were in compliance with relevant FAA regulations.
“Just like Uber, Airbnb and other successful companies that changed the status quo, TapJets Inc. is now facing pushback by government regulators,” Debra Fein, TapJets corporate counsel, said. “TapJets denies any wrongdoing, denies all allegations that FAA has made and is prepared to vigorously defend itself against allegations despite it no longer being the need for TapJets to be a certified airline.”
In 2016, TapJets claimed it was going bring to the market an Uber-like disruption. “TapJets Inc. has released a major update to their private jet charter hailing app. Customers are now able to access Flight Auctions allowing them to save thousands on flights that have otherwise flown empty. TapJets No Membership required service now offers clients the ability to instantly book air charter or participate in Flight Auctions making TapJets the first in the World to bring instant booking of private jets directly into customer’s hands,” the company claimed in a December 2016 press release.
“Over 350,000 private jet flights per year fly without revenue,” said Eugene Kesselman, CEO at TapJets, “We are helping charter companies that operate these empty flights, sell these routes to customers at very lucrative auction prices.”
As of today, the company’s website was still providing quotes for on-demand charter bookings (above) with other Part 135 air carriers. According to a report by the Grand Forks Herald, TapJets said, “We used these flights in the development and testing of our software,” the statement said. “We are concerned about why — a year after the fact — the FAA has raised these allegations based on an anonymous complaint.”
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