If you follow the aviation industry news at all, you are probably aware of the FAA’s recent suspension and subsequent revocation of AMI Jet Charter, Inc.’s FAR Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate. The FAA’s actions resulted from its determination that operational control violations were occurring due to AMI’s relationship with TAG Aviation USA, Inc.(the U.S. subsidiary of the Swiss company TAG Aviation Holding S.A.). Now, according to a June 8, 2007 Wall Street Journal article, TAG has agreed to pay a $10,000,000.00 civil penalty relating to its charter dealings with AMI. The FAA indicated that this is the largest civil penalty ever!
Between revocation of the air carrier certificate, lost business/revenue and then payment of the civil penalty, the consequences of TAG/AMI’s alleged operational control violations has been not only severe, but also expensive! On average, certificate suspension/revocation is not uncommon for a pattern of operational control violations. Similarly, a civil penalty is not unusual, albeit $10,000,000.00 is definitely not the norm. And loss of business/revenue is a certainty if the air carrier’s certificate is suspended or revoked and it can no longer operate aircraft charters.
Operational control is an ongoing “hot-button” for the FAA and will continue to receive intense scrutiny. All charter operators should review the available guidance on operational control and review their own processes and procedures to ensure that they are in compliance. As you can see, failure to comply can result in some very severe consequences.