FAA revokes pilot’s licenses after in-flight plane-swap stunt

FAA revokes pilot’s licenses after in-flight plane-swap stunt

FAA revokes pilot's licenses after in-flight plane-swap stunt

The Federal Aviation Administration revoked the licenses of two pilots who tried to swap planes mid-air over the Arizona desert last month, calling their actions in the stunt, in which a plane crashed , of “reckless” and “flagrant”.

In addition to the revocation order, dated Tuesday, the FAA also fined Luke Aikins, whom the agency called a lead pilot, $4,932 for giving up his pilot’s seat and operating his jet. in a “reckless and reckless” manner, after an investigation announced soon after. the coup of April 24.

Mr Aikins and Andy Farrington, another skydiver and pilot, planned to send their Cessna 182 single-engine planes into synchronized dives at 14,000ft and then jump to swap cockpits in the air.

But when they attempted the switch while flying over the desert in Eloy, Arizona, Mr. Farrington was unable to enter the plane from which Mr. Aikins had jumped, according to a revocation order. FAA emergency. The plane lost control and crashed nearby, halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. No spectators were present and no one was injured during the stunt, which was broadcast live by Hulu.

In an Instagram post five days later, Mr. Aikins admitted that he had received an email from the FAA denying a request for exemption from federal aviation regulations, and he said he would cooperate.” transparently” with the regulators. “I have made a personal decision to move forward with the aircraft swap,” he said in the post. “I regret not having shared this information with my team and those who supported me.”

Red Bull, the energy drink company, called the event “Plane Swap” and advertised it as a “first-of-its-kind jump.” A Red Bull spokesman described the license revocations as a matter between the agency and Mr Aikins and Mr Farrington, saying the company looked forward to its “continuing friendship” with the two drivers. Both pilots are still listed on the website of the Red Bull Air Force, a team specializing in aerial stunts, as members.

Red Bull called the stunt “partially accomplished” with Mr Aikins swapping planes and landing safely. Mr Farrington was unable to enter the other plane and was parachuted safely to the ground, the company said.

Both planes had to slow down so the jumpers could catch up with them, and they had to stay stable enough for the skydivers to squeeze through a doorway the width of a household refrigerator, Red Bull said.

Mr. Aikins, Mr. Farrington and Hulu did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

The FAA said in its revocation letters that Mr. Aikins and Mr. Farrington violated federal aviation regulations requiring pilots to remain at their stations, maintain “vigilance” and not operate planes in a manner “reckless” or “reckless”. Pilots must “immediately” surrender their certificates to fly commercial aircraft, or else pay up to $1,644 in fines for each day they keep the licenses in their possession.

Both men will have to give up most of the other FAA certifications they have, including Mr. Aikins’ license to fly drones and Mr. Farrington’s license for parachute rigging. They can appeal the agency’s decision until next Friday.

In Mr. Aikins’ application to the FAA earlier this year, he asked for an exemption because “during the swap, both planes will be unoccupied.” The agency said in a response dated April 22 and signed by Robert C. Carty, deputy executive director of the FAA’s Flight Standards Department, that granting an exemption “would not be in the public interest. and that the agency could not “find that the proposed operation would not compromise security.

The FAA announced the actions against the two pilots nearly a month after it said it had revoked the pilot license of daredevil YouTuber Trevor Jacob, who posted a video of himself last year parachute from a plane that he claimed had malfunctioned. The agency said an investigation revealed he deliberately abandoned the plane and left it to crash in Los Padres National Forest in southern California.

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