A California aircraft charter operator faces a proposed $533,320 civil penalty for allegedly conducting unauthorized charter flights with pilots who had not been properly trained, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says.
The FAA announced the proposed penalty late last week against Steele Aviation of Beverly Hills, California, U.S. The FAA said this was the third time since 2017 that it has proposed penalties against the company. The FAA also revoked the pilot certificates of Steele Aviation President Nicolas Steele, as well as a pilot who was employed by the company.
In its announcement, the FAA said that Steele Aviation conducted “at least 10 unauthorized for-hire flights” in a Hawker HS-125-800 between Jan. 28 and Feb. 14, 2019. The flights were to and from various destinations in the United States and Canada.
“The flights were unauthorized because Steele Aviation did not have an air carrier certificate; used pilots who had not passed required annual knowledge checks [and] annual flight-competency checks and undergone recurrent training; used an aircraft that was not on the operating specifications of any air carrier certificate; and did not have economic operating authority from the Department of Transportation,” the FAA said.
“Steele Aviation knew these flights were unauthorized because the FAA had taken enforcement action against the company twice previously for similar alleged violations.”
The previous actions involved a proposed $167,500 civil penalty in December 2017 for conducting 37 unauthorized flights and a proposed $624,000 civil penalty in October 2018 for 16 unauthorized flights, the FAA said. Both cases are pending.
The FAA said that it also suspended Nicolas Steele’s commercial pilot certificate for 120 days in June 2017 because he had been second-in-command on a passenger-carrying flight for compensation although he did not hold an air carrier certificate. The FAA said it also suspended the airline transport pilot certificate of Christian Monthy, the pilot-in-command on those flights.
In April of this year, the FAA revoked all certificates held by the two men for flying the 10 flights cited in the most recent proposed civil penalties, the agency said. Both men have appealed.
Steele Aviation has 30 days after being formally notified of the proposed actions by the FAA to respond to the agency’s allegations.