Operational Control -- FAA's Audits Still Going Strong

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Charter operators have been the FAA's target for random unannounced audits for more than 19 months. Recent audits show there are curveballs operators may not expect but for which they must be prepared. It has recently been demonstrated that companies operating with dba names approved through local FSDOs should still be concerned. If those dba names are listed on A001 Op Spec sheets in the name of management companies, FAA auditors will not be impressed by local your FSDO's approval when they stop by. The message is this: you don't have to be a bad guy to be audited, so be prepared. Modern preparation of documentation includes consistency online, where some carriers are posting their certificate numbers on Web sites to facilitate transparency for customers. For its part, NBAA offers an Operational Control Audit Checklist (PDF file) to its members. See also NBAA's FAQ page on the FAA's A008 OpSpec on Operational Control. On the heels of the FAA's emergency revocation of accident-free charter operator AMI's certificate, AVwebBiz reminds part 135 operators that an operator cannot delegate to outside entities any aspect of operational control over its air transportation/commercial services without consequence.

Since February 2005, when a Challenger 600 operated by Platinum Jet Management crashed through a fence at Teterboro airport, N.J., crossed a highway and crashed into a warehouse, injuring 20, the FAA seems to have renewed its efforts to police management of Part 135 operations. In that case, Platinum Jet claimed it was providing resources (pilots and aircraft) to another entity that was serving as the air carrier. The FAA disagreed, suspending Platinum's certificate. All operators must maintain operational control over all flights -- including oversight of all operations from initiation, to continuation, to conduct and termination of a flight. If the FAA believes a carrier is engaged in the franchising or rental of its air carrier certificate, it will act.