The FAA suspended AMI Jet Charter’s Part 135 certificate yesterday on an emergency basis, citing many problems with the Burlingame, Calif. charter firm’s operational control of its charter flights. AMI Jet Charter is partially owned by TAG Aviation USA, which brokers charters to AMI Jet Charter and other charter operators on behalf of its management customers. Forty-eight of TAG’s 120 managed aircraft are on AMI Jet’s charter certificate, and these airplanes and 30 additional AMI charter aircraft are not able to fly charters while this suspension is in effect.
The emergency suspension order lists multiple violations of FAA regulations, including: AMI has failed to adequately determine flight- and duty-time limitations and rest requirements before a crewmember is assigned a Part 135 flight; people not authorized by AMI’s operations specifications have been designating the pilot-in-command and, when required, the second-in-command for Part 135 flights; and people not designated and authorized by AMI’s operations specifications have been actually exercising operational control over Part 135 operations.
AMI Jet acknowledged that the FAA has been reviewing the company’s operations for the past seven months “as part of the recently revised A008 Operational Control Specification.” Before suspending AMI’s charter certificate yesterday, the FAA would only confirm that it was investigating AMI, but would not disclose the nature of the investigation. AMI Jet Charter CEO Chuck McLeran told AIN previously that the company was being scrutinized by the FAA and that it had modified its operational control procedures to make sure that it was in compliance with the new A008 operations specifications.
In a press release issued late last night, McLeran said AMI Jet Charter will “work with the FAA so we can address these issues…working with the FAA, we believe these issues can be resolved at the earliest possible time.” AMI Jet holds a platinum rating by charter auditor ARG/US and has an “impeccable safety record,” according to McLeran.
The National Air Transportation Association represents charter operators and has been working with the FAA to clarify operational control issues, and association president James Coyne believes that the FAA is using the emergency suspension of AMI Jet’s charter certificate as an example to the charter industry. “It appears to me that AMI was picked by the FAA to be its first subject of strict examination on this,” he said. “No one is alleging issues of underlying safety.”
The FAA’s suspension notice cites flights as recently as October 1 and 2. The FAA asked AMI Jet to show “how the aircraft and the aircraft pilots met the requirements of Part 135” for flights in six airplanes. According to the suspension notice, “AMI was unable to demonstrate that the flights referenced [on those dates] were in compliance; specifically, AMI failed to produce or timely produce records related to pilot training, flight and duty, and rest records and weight and balance records.”
AMI Jet has 10 days to appeal the suspension and also can petition the FAA to review the determination that an emergency exists.