Arizona Flight School Disputes FAA Fine

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The FAA on Tuesday announced that it would levy a $330,000 fine against North-Aire Aviation, an Arizona flight school, for allowing at least 18 unqualified students to graduate, but North-Aire on Wednesday disputed the action, calling the FAA's news release "inflammatory." In a statement posted on its Web site (PDF), the school's management states that it "was not aware that the FAA was poised to take this punitive action, nor does North-Aire agree with the discrepancies that the FAA suggests occurred." The alleged infractions cited by the FAA took place between April and August of 2008, and new management took over the school in April 2009. "It is the understanding of North-Aire's current management that the matter was remedied and resolved favorably with each of the students receiving their appropriate certificates," according to the North-Aire statement. The FAA said on Tuesday it has suspended the certificates of the 18 former North-Aire students it says were improperly trained.

"It is unclear why the FAA would just now release information on an alleged infraction that is almost two years old, giving the impression that this is a new investigation of an alleged ongoing infraction," reads the North-Aire statement. "North-Aire Aviation intends to fully exercise its rights in discussing the matter with the FAA in the hope that the matter may be favorably resolved before any further unnecessary and inflammatory information is disseminated." The FAA said that between April 18, 2008, and August 29, 2008, North-Aire issued graduation certificates and recommended students for pilot certificates and ratings even though the students failed to complete the training specified in the school's course of training, failed to pass the required final test and failed to complete all the curriculum requirements of the course. North-Aire also failed to correct the discrepancies after they were pointed out, the FAA said. North-Aire has 30 days from the time it receives the FAA's civil penalty letter to respond to the allegations.