FAA Proposes $4 Million Penalty On Spitfire Aviation Services





FAA Proposes $4 Million Penalty On Spitfire Aviation Services

By Mike Mitchell

December 5, 2009 - The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed a $4 million civil penalty for Spitfire Aviation Services, LLC, of Fayetteville, Ark., for numerous violations of the Federal Aviation Regulations. 

The alleged violations include conducting at least 798 passenger-carrying revenue flights between November 2005 and October 2007, even though Spitfire held no air carrier certificate or the appropriate operations specifications required under federal regulations for charter operators. Inspectors also found that 262 of those flights were conducted by a pilot who did not hold an Air Transport Pilot Certificate with the appropriate type rating for the aircraft being flown.  


Spitfire had no FAA-approved pilot training and testing program in place, nor the approved maintenance program or drug testing and alcohol misuse prevention programs required by the government. During its investigation, the FAA determined that Spitfire operated three aircraft, including a Cessna CE-550 Citation, a Beechcraft BE-20 and a Beechcraft BE-36, on charter flights primarily in the central and southern United States. The FAA became aware of the violations through a complaint from a competitor. 

During the time it was operating in violation of regulations, Spitfire experienced a crash that destroyed the BE-36 and resulted in the death of the pilot. The three passengers on that flight survived the accident. On December 18, 2006, at 2208 central standard time, a single-engine Beech (Raytheon) A36 airplane, N1100J, was destroyed when it collided with terrain while executing an instrument approach to the Drake Field Airport (FYV) near Fayetteville, Arkansas. The instrument rated commercial pilot was fatally injured and three passengers received serious injuries. The airplane was registered to Hoss Airways, LLC., of Fayetteville, Arkansas. An instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the 183-mile cross-country flight that originated from the Ardmore Downtown Executive Airport, near Ardmore, Oklahoma. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the business flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. 

The accident occurred during the return leg of a round-trip that departed from the Drake Field Airport earlier the same day. One surviving passenger on the accident airplane reported that as the airplane dropped below the clouds it struck trees. He added that it was foggy at the lower altitude. Another surviving passenger reported that the flight circled the airport once while the pilot was "punching numbers on a pad on the instrument panel." He added that "they couldn't see the runway lights" and the airplane collided with the trees during the approach.  


The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate for airplane single-engine, multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate for airplane single-engine land. In addition, he held an airframe and powerplant mechanic's certificate. His last second-class Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical was issued on December 29, 2005. At the time of his last medical examination the pilot reported having accumulated 5,000 flight hours. The pilot's logbooks were not located during the course of the accident investigation. The airplane was reportedly based (hangared) at FYV. The pilot was reported to regularly fly form the airport and was well familiar with the approach being flown. 

The airplane was a 1996 model Beech A36, which is a single-engine, low-wing airplane, with retractable tricycle landing gear, and was configured with a total of 6 seats. The airplane was powered by a 300-horsepower Continental IO-550-B reciprocating engine. The engine was driving a McCauley 3-blade constant speed propeller. The airplane's maintenance records were not located during the course of the NTSB investigation. 

The automated weather station at FYV reported at 2153, winds from 040 degrees at 4 knots, temperature 45 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 44 degrees Fahrenheit, with an altimeter pressure setting of 30.38 inches of Mercury, visibility 10 miles and the ceiling at 400-feet overcast. The automated weather station at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, which is 18 miles north, at 2155 reported winds from 040 degrees at 6 knots, temperature 46 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 12 degrees Fahrenheit, with an altimeter pressure setting of 30.31 inches of Mercury, visibility 7 miles and the ceiling at 700-feet broken. 

 ?AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News


AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator