The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $1,001,000 civil penalty against Weathervane Aviation Services, LLC, of Westport, Mass., for allegedly operating illegal charter flights.
The FAA alleges that between May 9, 2016 and Aug. 31, 2018, Weathervane conducted approximately 1,400 illegal flights in two, twin-engine Cessna 402C airplanes between New Bedford Regional Airport and Nantucket Memorial Airport. The flights were illegal because Weathervane lacked a required air-carrier certificate and used unqualified pilots, the FAA alleges.
All but 52 flights occurred after the FAA had notified Weathervane President Richard Araujo that he required an air-carrier certificate to conduct the operations. Approximately 455 of the flights occurred after the FAA alerted Araujo that the agency was investigating his company for possible illegal operations.
In addition to operating without an air carrier certificate, the FAA alleges Weathervane lacked an FAA-approved pilot-training program and procedures and policies manual. Furthermore, the company used pilots who had not passed required written, oral, and flight checks and instrument proficiency checks, the agency alleges.
The FAA alleges Weathervane’s operations were careless or reckless so as to endanger the life or property of another.
Weathervane has 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.