UK CAA puts illegal charter operator in jail
More importantly she declared that all will be prosecuted
DoJ National Institute of Justice: certainty is the #1 deterrent
The FAA and industry ( Air Charter Safety Foundation[ACSF], AOPA , NATA, NBAA and others) have railed about the illegal charter market. These uncertificated operators do not meet the minimum safety standards required to be authorized to fly the general public. The problem is that the Gray Charter Market is insidious; the problem is that the transactions are hidden from the regulators and equally difficult in detection to the legitimate carriers. The consumers are not privy to the intricate rules which define the illegal flights.
Since it is difficult to detect, these unsafe sales are being attacked by punishment; highly publicized large civil penalties and certificate actions:
· FAA Special Emphasis Investigation Team Great Consumer Information, And Increase Impact With Targeted Audience.
This concerted effort shows no slowing of this trend. Below is a report of a recent tragic crash of a UK illegal, lethal charter. It was very high profile because the victim was a very promising footballer on his flight to his new soccer club.
The CAA General Counsel made a very important statement after the defendant was convicted. She said:
“…UK Civil Aviation Authority will always look to prosecute illegal activity.”
According to the US Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, experts on this subject–
The resources, to signal that a violation will certainly be caught and will prosecuted, involve the FAA’s own investigators, OIG investigators, FAA attorneys and US Attorneys. The difficulty is that all of these professionals have a multitude of demands on their time. Which gets priority is a high level policy decision involving multiple Executive Branch senior executives.
A jury at Cardiff Crown Court in the UK has found David Henderson guilty of endangering the safety of an aircraft for his role in arranging the flight in which soccer star Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson died when an illegally chartered Piper Malibu crashed into the ocean on a flight from France to Wales in January 2019. Henderson, who effectively managed the aircraft for its private owner, was also found guilty of “attempting to discharge a passenger in the UK without valid permission or authorization.” He will be sentenced on November 12.
The Air Charter Association (ACA), which has been campaigning for tougher enforcement against people and companies making illegal flights for-hire, welcomed the verdict. “The ruling confirms that Henderson arranged and coordinated this flight illegally on behalf of Emiliano Sala,” said the UK-based group’s chairman, Kevin Ducksbury. “Fully licensed, regulated, and approved air charter operators are at the heart of the Air Charter Association’s core values and growing membership. The association is profoundly disturbed that this flight was allowed to happen but welcomes the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s representation in this case, ensuring a precedence is set and further support is provided to one of the association’s primary causes—stamping out illegal public transport.”
Prosecutors told the jury that Ibbotson, who regularly flew for Henderson, did not hold a commercial pilot’s license and was not qualified to fly in IFR conditions at night. His specific rating for the single-engine Malibu had expired.
The N-registered aircraft was owned by Fay Keely, who the court heard had refused to allow Ibbotson to fly her. Henderson’s company does not hold an air operator’s certificate. Prosecutors told the jury that, after hearing about the crash, Henderson, a former RAF officer, texted associates instructing them not to speak about the circumstances around the flight out of concern that it would, “open a can of worms.”
Commenting on the verdict, Kate Staples, the UK CAA’s general counsel issued the following statement: “Aviation safety relies upon the integrity of everyone involved in the industry. Unlawful and unsafe activity such as Mr. Henderson’s is unacceptable, and the UK Civil Aviation Authority will always look to prosecute illegal activity.”
Share this article: