The FAA, highlighting its efforts to combat illegal charter, is warning the public of red flags involved in illegal operations. The agency also released a list of certified operators to enable consumers to verify their charter companies. Those warnings came as the agency has worked with industry organizations such as NATA and NBAA to step up its efforts to curtail illegal activity.
In a new statement, the FAA notes it is working “aggressively to identify and shut down rogue operators,” saying they pose a serious threat to safety. Legal charter operations meet a higher level of training, maintenance, and operational requirements, and are more frequently inspected, the FAA statement reminds.
The agency outlined various forms of illegal charter activity such as a lack of certification, use of unauthorized aircraft, use of unqualified pilots, ride-sharing offers, and transference of operational control to the customer, among others.
Numerous actions are ongoing to crack down on illegal operations, the FAA added, including the formation of a special-focus team to investigate complex cases. Also, the agency has partnered with industry to identify illegal operations, the agency said, adding it is standing up a new team to collaborate with industry trade associations to educate pilots and operators.
In addition to furnishing the list of licensed operators, the agency advises that customers can ask to see the company’s operating certificate and specifications that list the approved aircraft.
Additionally, the agency listed potential red flags, such as an attempt to transfer operational control to a customer; a lack of federal excise tax charge: “if the price is too good to be true, it probably is;” lack of safety briefing or briefing cards; evasive answers to questions or concerns; and an attempt to coach passengers on what to say if an FAA inspector is present.
“The FAA encourages people to thoroughly research operators they are considering hiring, and to report any suspected illegal activities to the agency,” the statement said, adding, “If a member of the public has a concern about the legitimacy of a charter operator, they should contact their local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).”
The agency pointed to resources of industry groups, its own guidance, as well as the toll-free illegal charter reporting hotline at 888-SKY-FLT1 (888-759-3581).