Newcomers looking for deals and cash strapped private jet owners are causing a surge in illegal charter activity. However, FAA enforcement often misses the mark, industry experts say
Illegal charter can be deadly. Last year’s death of European soccer star Emiliano Sala came on an aircraft not authorized for commercial charters in Europe. It was flown by a pilot who wasn’t qualified. A 2018 Falcon 50 crash that killed both pilots in South Carolina found that maintenance records weren’t up to date. The pilots were not qualified to fly Part 135 charter flights.
As private jet travel attracts price-sensitive newcomers, illegal charters with unqualified pilots and aircraft are creating new dangers
“We’ve just got done with a case..The PIC (Pilot-in-Charge) was not typed in the aircraft and the SIC (Second Officer-in-Charge) was a student pilot with less than 50 hours. That’s one of the most unsafe things I’ve seen. This stuff goes on. It happens.”
– FAA Inspector
Back in 2016, I was visiting the headquarters of Jet Linx Aviation in Omaha, Nebraska. Walking with its CEO Jamie Walker between a series of meetings, he suggested I write about illegal charters. He said it was a subject he didn’t think was getting enough attention.