FAA Cracks Down On Illegal Charters

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An Oklahoma helicopter company has been fined more than $50,000 for dodging FAA regulations and illegally chartering fixed-wing aircraft. Interstate Helicopters and its owner James Paul Johnson were caught in an FAA enforcement effort to curb illegal charters. The company pleaded guilty to passing off charters as dry lease deals. On paper, customers leased the aircraft without pilots and fuel but part of the deal was that Interstate’s pilots and support be required. The passengers were directed to enter into pilot service agreements with company and the end result was a full-blown charter.

The lease agreements were supposed to have been reported to the FAA aircraft registry and were not. The National Business Aviation Association says it’s important to ensure all charter operators are properly registered and monitored for safety and regulatory compliance. There is a hotline (888-759-3581) to report illegal charter operations. “Aircraft charter is a highly competitive business,” NBAA Senior Manager of Flight Operations and Regulation Brian Koester said. “Passengers want the most expeditious option that fits their schedule, and operators are eager to assist them. That said, it’s everyone’s shared responsibility to ensure that such flights are carried out lawfully.”