GRAY CHARTER MARKET: 2 more FAA actions against illegal flights and 1 proactive addition to the NBAA Small Aircraft Exemption

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Update: FAA Extends NBAA’s Small Aircraft Exemption Until 2022

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FAA Proposes $1.5 Million Civil Penalty Against B E L Aviation of Odessa, Texas for Alleged Illegal Charter


BEL aircraft

WASHINGTON The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $1,504,800 civil penalty against B E L Aviation of Odessa, Texas, for allegedly conducting illegal charter flights.

The FAA alleges that between September 2016 and July 2018, B E L conducted 114 unauthorized for-hire flights transporting passengers throughout the United States and Mexico on a Piaggio P-180 Avanti II aircraft. The flights were unauthorized because B E L Aviation did not have an air carrier or air operator certificate, the FAA alleges.

The FAA alleges that the operations were careless or reckless. The agency further alleges the pilot who conducted the flights did not meet applicable training requirements for those types of operations.

Paradigm aircraft


FAA Revokes Operating Certificate of Paradigm Air Operators for Alleged Illegal Charter Flights

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an emergency order revoking the operating certificate of Paradigm Air Operators, Inc. of Dallas, Texas, for allegedly conducting dozens of unauthorized charter flights using unqualified pilots and when it lacked required air carrier management and safety personnel.

Nevertheless, the FAA alleges Paradigm between June 2013 and March 2018 conducted at least 34 unauthorized, common carriage charter flights using its two Boeing 757 and one Boeing 737 aircraft. Customers on these flights included the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers baseball teams, and the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs National hockey teams.


The FAA has been fighting the Gray Market for years and recently, after pressure from industry[1], they have increased the actions against the entities which operate in this arena. The problem has been that the requirements imposed by Part 91 Subpart F of the Federal Aviation Regulations are complicated.

The difficulty of the FAA’s enforcing these rules are subject to two problems—one: the actual transaction—legal or illegal is hard to detect. Second, the technicalities of these rules make it hard for the normal consumer and/or aircraft owner to comply. It is quite possible that an unsuspecting owner, not seeking to cheat, will cross the discern the intricate requirement.

In an action, otherwise almost ministerial action (the exemption has been renewed over almost 20 years) has added a significant requirement to NBAA Exemption 7897K NBAA Small Aircraft Exemption. The tag on should help in the detection of gray charters by requiring a Part 91 Subpart F Notice of joinder. Now the owner of a Part 91 aircraft intending to rely of the exemption must:


As of Sept. 27, 2020, no person may operate an aircraft under the NBAA Small Aircraft Exemption unless that person files a “Notice of Joinder to FAA Exemption No. 7897K.” This requirement can be met electronically and must include:

Basic contact information for the person,

The person’s NBAA membership number,

A statement requesting that the FAA append this Notice of Joinder to the list of NBAA with authorization to use this exemption,

A statement attesting the person will not conduct operations under this exemption if the person ceases to be an NBAA member, and

An attestation the person will comply with all conditions and limitations of the exemption.

This notice requirement will reduce the number of inadvertent illegal Subpart F flights, especially with the filing with the relevant FSDO. As Doug Carr, NBAA’s vice president of regulatory and international affairs, explained so well:

“Use of the exemption is overseen, in part, by a requirement to notify the local Flight Standards District Office when an operation will be conducted under the terms of the exemption…This notification requires the operator to provide a copy of the time-sharing, interchange or joint ownership agreements, and is an opportunity for the local office to review these documents and details of the operation for compliance.”

By registering, the FAA can then ignore those NBAA members and focus on non-Members to look for those with possibly non-compliant operations.

The challenge of finding the Gray Charters was just reduced by tagging the Joinder to Exemption Exemption 7897K!!!

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[1] Shedding Light On The Gray Market By NBAA; FAA Dragnet On The Gray Market; Gray Charters Become A Federal Case; Caveat Emptor Or FAA Regulation ?; More And More On HOLDING OUT Part 91 And Part 135; Red Flags For Charter Consumers.

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