The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency order to revoke the ability of Universal Flight Services to charge passengers for flights. The FAA also revoked the pilot certificate of the owner of Universal Flight Services for allegedly conducting illegal charter flights.
Universal Flight Services, a Sarasota, Florida-based company, allegedly conducted 26 passenger-carrying flights without the required FAA certificate between Oct. 22, 2015 and Feb. 17, 2019. The flights occurred between the following airports: Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, Key West International Airport, Florida Keys/Marathon International Airport, and Witham Field.
In March 2019, Universal Flight Services obtained the FAA certificate required to conduct passenger flights. However, it operated seven subsequent flights using unauthorized pilots and/or aircraft between Sept. 9, 2019 and Sept. 20, 2020.
On two of the flights, the pilot did not have the medical certificate required to fly paying passengers, did not pass a flight check to fly in instrument conditions, and was not current to fly in instrument conditions. On two different flights, the aircraft that the company used had not undergone required inspections.
On all 33 flights conducted by Universal Flight Services between October 2015 and September 2020, the pilots had not passed required written and oral tests, competency checks, and flight checks in the type of aircraft they operated during this time.
United Flight Services surrendered its certificate as required by the emergency order and appealed the order to the NTSB.