Gulfstream Airlines Disputes Accusations





Gulfstream Airlines Disputes Accusations 

FAA Proposes $1.3 Million Civil Penalty for Gulfstream International Airlines

By Dana Murphy


May23, 2009, The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has sent out a “Civil Penalty Letter” to Gulfstream International Airlines which indicted that the FAA has proposed a $1.3 million civil penalty against Florida-based Gulfstream International Airlines, Inc. for violations of the Federal Aviation Regulations. The alleged violations indicated Gulfstream International improperly scheduled flight crew duty time, installed unapproved air conditioner compressors and improperly maintained vent blowers on the airline's fleet of 27 BE-1900-D aircraft.

A FAA inspection in June 2008, revealed that Gulfstream International had installed "unapproved automotive air-conditioner compressors" on certain aircraft between September 2006 and May 2008.Gulfstream International Airlines has identified those effected aircraft and has replaced those parts with approved aviation parts.   


An FAA review of the airline's electronic record keeping system for tracking crew duty and rest time revealed that Gulfstream International did not accurately input the proper data from its manually generated hard copy aircraft logbook records into the electronic system. The discrepancies resulted in scheduling crew members in excess of daily and weekly flight time limitations. Gulfstream International Airlines has been given 30 days to respond to the Civil Penalty Letter.

Chief Executive Officer, David F. Hackett of Gulfstream International reported this week that he believes the company will be vindicated, disputes the company falsified flight time records and forced flight crews to fly more hours than federal rules permit. "No records were ever falsified, period," The airline is unaware of allegations that pilots were forced to violate flight time restrictions, "on a couple of occasions, a crew schedulers made a mistake and allowed a pilot to fly over his required limits." according to Mr. Hackett.

Gulfstream International Airlines flight academy provided training and initial airline experience to Marvin Renslow, the captain of the Colgan Air Inc. plane that crashed near Buffalo, N.Y., on Feb. 12, killing 50 people. Mr. Hackett said Capt. Renslow's record at Gulfstream was "uneventful" and said he never failed flight checks while working for the Fort Lauderdale, Florida airline. According to the National Transportation Safety Board Capt. Renslow had flunked a number of proficiency checks as a private pilot and while training at Gulfstream, and he failed at least one other flight test while he was at Colgan Air Inc. The FAA has reported that Gulfstream Academy has turned in their certificate as an FAA-approved flight training school on May 12, the day the NTSB opened a public hearing on the Buffalo crash.

During the summer of 2008, several pilots complained to the FAA of having to work beyond the the number of flight hours required by law, raised  safety concerns of the aircraft they were flying, pilots had been fired for raising such concerns, etc. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee began investigating so-called whistleblower complaints.   

In disputing "whistleblower" claims that pilots were punished by the airline for raising safety concerns, Mr. Hackett said certain employees were terminated for poor performance and alcohol abuse.

Mr. Hackett has been Chief Executive Officer and President of the Company since March 2006. Since June 2003, Mr. Hackett has served as President of Gulfstream. From January 2002 to June 2003, he was a financial and strategic consultant to Newgate Associates, LLC. Mr. Hackett has over 20 years experience in the airline industry, beginning with Continental in 1985, where he eventually served as Director, Financial Planning and Analysis.

On October 14, 2004, Pinnacle Airlines flight 3701 (doing business as Northwest Airlink), a Bombardier CL-600-2B19, N8396A, crashed into a residential area about 2.5 miles south of Jefferson City Memorial Airport, Jefferson City, Missouri. The airplane was on a repositioning flight from Little Rock National Airport, Little Rock, Arkansas, to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Minneapolis, Minnesota. During the flight, both engines flamed out after a pilot-induced aerodynamic stall and were unable to be restarted. The captain and the first officer were killed, and the airplane was destroyed. No one on the ground was injured. The flight was operating on an instrument flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable causes of this accident was the pilots’ unprofessional behavior, deviation from standard operating procedures, and poor airmanship, which resulted in an in-flight emergency from which they were unable to recover, in part because of the pilots’ inadequate training. The pilots’ failure to prepare for an emergency landing in a timely manner, including communicating with air traffic controllers immediately after the emergency about the loss of both engines and the availability of landing sites. The pilots’ improper management of the double engine failure checklist, which allowed the engine cores to stop rotating and resulted in the core lock engine condition. Contributing to this accident were the core lock engine condition, which prevented at least one engine from being restarted, and the airplane flight manuals that did not communicate to pilots the importance of maintaining a minimum airspeed to keep the engine cores rotating. The captain flew for Gulfstream Airlines between 2000 to 2002, and the co-pilot received training from Gulfstream Academy in 2002, and flew as a co-pilot for Gulfstream Airlines.

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