The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $3.3 million civil penalty against The Hinman Co. of Portage, Michigan, for conducting hundreds of commercial aircraft operations in violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations, including failing to hold the required operator certificate for the flights being performed.
The FAA alleges that Hinman, through subsidiary Hincojet LLC, operated a Beechcraft Beechjet 400A and a Hawker 900XP aircraft. Hinman entered into multiple aircraft timeshare agreements for use of these aircraft.
Under Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, Hinman was allowed to charge certain expenses for each flight under the timeshare agreements, including fuel, oil, lubricants, and other additives, and an additional charge equal to 100 percent of the costs for fuel, oil, lubricants, and other additives used for each flight.
Hinman, however, charged expenses exceeding these allowances for 850 flights and, as such, was required to conduct the flights in accordance with regulations applicable to commercial operations, the FAA alleges.
Furthermore, the FAA alleges that on multiple occasions, Hinman double-billed timeshare clients for various legs of trips.
FAA investigators found that on Sept. 30, 2015, Hinman billed a client for a trip aboard its Hawker aircraft from Connecticut to North Carolina and then to Florida.
On the same day, the company billed another client for a trip aboard the same aircraft that included multiple stops on a round-trip from Kalamazoo to Detroit, Indiana, Illinois and back to Kalamazoo. The FAA alleges the aircraft was incapable of conducting all of those flights in a single day.
The FAA alleges that because it was charging more than the expenses allowed under Part 91, Hinman should have been operating these flights under Part 135, which applies to commercial operations.
As a result, Hinman failed to meet the FAA’s Part 135 requirements for record keeping, including pilot records and load manifests, for each flight.
The company also had no Part 135 training program in place, and the pilots operating the flights were not authorized to conduct the flights under Part 135, the FAA alleges.
The company has 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.