FAA seeks $1.8M from company that operated plane that crashed
TRENTON, N.J. -- The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking $1.8 million in civil penalties against the operator of the corporate jet that aborted a takeoff at Teterboro Airport, then roared across a busy highway and slammed into a warehouse.
The agency alleges Platinum Jet Management "operated the aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another." Platinum Jet was cited with violating numerous regulations, including altering weight records on the charter flight and not properly training its flight crew.
The allegations were included in a letter sent July 8 to the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company by FAA Regional Counsel Loretta E. Alkalay.
No one was killed in the Feb. 2 crash, but 20 people were injured, including a motorist in a car struck by the Bombardier Canadair Challenger CL-600 aircraft as it crossed Route 46.
The FAA also is seeking penalties against the owners of the jet, and two other planes operated by Platinum Jet also are being targeted by the agency, according to the letter supplied Thursday to The Associated Press. An FAA spokesman declined to comment, saying the matter remains under investigation.
Platinum Air President, Michael F. Brassington, could not be reached for comment. A telephone number listed on the Internet for the company was disconnected, and a telephone operator could not find a listing for the company in Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding area.
The FAA grounded the company in March because it did not have a certificate required for charter operators. The agency also revoked the charter license of Alabama-based Darby Aviation, known as AlphaJet, which had essentially leased its certificate to Platinum, according to the report.
The agency cited the Darby-Platinum arrangement in its civil penalty letter, saying Platinum failed to ensure that flight crews were properly trained and screened for drugs and alcohol or that passengers were briefed on safety procedures. The FAA also alleges that Platinum's flight crew altered forms that record a plane's center of gravity before the flight at Teterboro.
Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board have cited weight as a possible factor in the crash, noting that the jet was nose-heavy.
Platinum Jet Management has 30 days from July 8 to respond to the letter and can appeal the results to the National Transportation Safety Board.