FAA Revokes Cert of Sports Team Charter Operator

 - March 12, 2020, 10:11 AM

The U.S. FAA issued an emergency revocation of the operating certificate of Paradigm Air Operators for allegedly conducting dozens of unauthorized charter flights, including for major sports teams, using two Boeing 757s and a 737, the agency announced yesterday.

According to the agency, Paradigm used pilots who were not properly qualified, and it lacked air carrier management and safety personnel. The operator further did not have U.S. Department of Transportation economic authority for the flights. Paradigm was not available for comment.

The company was authorized to conduct private and “non-common carriage,” including air transportation services for one or several selected customers, generally on a long-term basis. “However, Paradigm does not have a certificate allowing it to advertise for-hire charter flights to the public, or to solicit or conduct such ‘common carriage’ flights,” the agency added.

Between June 2013 and March 2018, Paradigm conducted at least 34 common carriage charter flights for customers that included the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, and Texas Rangers baseball teams, as well as the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs hockey teams, the agency alleged.

Paradigm paid $101,320 in commissions to a consultant for 28 of the flights and received payments totally $652,500 from an air charter broker for six flights. “On at least 11 of these occasions, Paradigm claimed the operations were demonstration flights to prospective aircraft buyers when the actual purpose of the flights was paid air transportation,” the FAA further alleged.

Pilots used during the 34 flights had not completed requisite training and proficiency checks for common-carriage operators. Further, Paradigm lacked directors of safety, maintenance, and operations, as well as a chief pilot and chief inspector.

Paradigm also used a consultant to obtain long-term contracts with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, and Seattle Mariners baseball teams, paying $272,646 for those contracts, the FAA alleged.

Under the FAA’s emergency revocation order, Paradigm must immediately surrender its operating certificate or face a civil penalty of $13,669 for each day it fails to do so. The revocation comes as the FAA, working with industry, has made a concentrated effort to educate about what constitutes legal and illegal charter and clampdown on unauthorized flights.