Sarasota Flight School Issued $382,000 FAA Penalty

FAA says the flight school used unqualified pilots and conducted at least 26 illegal passenger flights.

A south Florida fight school is facing a $382,000 civil fine from federal officials who say it used unqualified pilots and conducted more than two dozen illegal flights over the course of at least three years.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the fine against Universal Flight Training in Sarasota on Wednesday, alleging that the business conducted illegal passenger-carrying flights and utilized pilots who had not yet completed required FAA training, testing, and competency checks.

“The FAA alleges that between October 2015 and February 2019, Universal Flight Training and its affiliate, Universal Flight Services, conducted at least 26 paid passenger-carrying flights in multiple airplanes,” FAA said in a statement. “The agency alleges the companies did not have the required FAA operating or air carrier certificate to conduct those flights.”

Universal Flight Services did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

According to the FAA, however, Universal Flight Training and Universal Flight Services had responded to the agency regarding the allegations.

The proposed fine is one of several issued recently by the FAA for illegal operations.

On September 3, the administration hit charter flight operators, identified as Slice of the 406 LLC and 82 and Sunny LLC, with a nearly $340,000 fine for allegedly conducting 27 paid passenger-carrying flights in a Cessna Citation II C550 between July 2017 and November 2018.

The FAA said the parties did not have the required FAA Part 135 operating or Part 121 air carrier certificates, and that they used unqualified pilots who had not completed FAA training and testing. “The parties also conducted flights without appropriate operations specifications, which outline what a company is authorized to do,” the agency said.

In late August, Oklahoma-based Interstate Helicopters was fined $617,100 for allegedly conducting two dozen illegal paid passenger-carrying flights in turbine airplanes when it was only authorized for helicopter operations under their certificate.

On August 23, Indiana-based Indy Jet Management LLC was fined nearly $2.2 million for allegedly conducting 168 flights in multiple Cessna Citation CE500-series aircraft between March 2017 and February 2018 without required FAA operating or air carrier certificates, or appropriate operation specifications.


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