FAA Special Emphasis Investigation Team  great consumer information, and  increase impact with targeted audience.

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Hypothetical consumer decision scenario

What’s the average ordinary person going to do? Our hypothetical prospective customer does a GOOGLE search and finds this useful FAA website page:








The FAA Special Emphasis Investigation Team has created a page which provides prospective charter customers with a lot of information which should help differentiate between legal and illegal offers.

red flags



Red Flags[1] that Indicate a Company May Not Be a Legitimate Operator:

  • If the company provides the aircraft and at least one crewmember, yet attempts to transfer operational control to a consumer via any document.
  • A lack of Federal Excise Tax charged to the consumer. Legitimate operators have to charge this. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
  • A lack of a safety briefing or passenger briefing cards.
  • Any evasiveness to questions or concerns. Legitimate operators should be transparent and helpful.
  • If the pilot or someone associated with the company coaches passengers on what to say or do if an FAA aviation inspector meets the aircraft at its destination.

Contact information in the event it appears that the owner is illegally offering flights:

The website lists some information that should be relied upon BEFORE agreeing to any “charter” agreement (see especially  Legal/licensed air charter operators ):consumer research links








The second line of the SAFE AIR CHARTER page contains resources that are really designed for the owner/operator of the “charter” aircraft. And the last TAB “ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS” is directed at those trying to cheat[2].

faa hammer



These planes being flown outside the FARs harm the P135 Operators that meet or exceed the safety standards. Thus, industry has added its voice to this campaign, for example a few of their messages:

The Air Charter Association : Avoid Illegal Charter

Avoid Illegal Charter – National Air Transportation …

The Risks of Flying With Illegal Charter Operators | NBAA …

These activities are impressive and contain all of the regulatory information needed to differentiate between the legal and unsafe flights. In the hypothetical posed at the beginning, the prospective consumer choose to research the issue—that assumes that the individual knew to google “illegal charter” and that he was motivated to find the answer. As extensive as the FAA/industry outreach has been, it may well be that some of these potential passengers were not aware of the issue.

A search of the archives of these major newspapers for articles on illegal charters had the following results:

  1. ZERO Wall Street journal articles
  2. ZERO Washington Post articles
  3. ZERO Chicago Tribune articles
  4. ZERO LA Times articles
  5. ZERO New York Times articles since 1970
  6. ZERO Seattle times tribune articles

The target audience for these advisory messages is quite narrow—people of high income. Assistant Administrator for Communications Matthew Lehner should use his extensive contacts to offer FAA spokespersons to have interviews with media which reach those who are likely to consider contracting for a charter flight. Paper and Electronic journalists (e.g., ABC news, Chief Executive Magazine) would see this information sessions as attractive to their readers. In our internet society, the most influential sources are:top executive websites






Armed with the FAA’s powerful information, educated consumers will be the strongest deterrents to these gray charters. =========================================================

[1] Red Flags For Charter Consumers includes some additional indicia that may help identify operators without authority.


[2] GRAY CHARTER MARKET: 2 More FAA Actions Against Illegal Flights And 1 Proactive Addition To The NBAA Small Aircraft Exemption; Gray Charters Become A Federal Case; FAA’s $1,000,000 CP Should Deter The Gray Charter Market; FAA Dragnet On The Gray Market


media outreach



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