The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a USD533,320 civil penalty against Steele Aviation (Van Nuys) for allegedly conducting unauthorised charter flights using pilots who lacked the required training, the regulator said in a statement dated July 22.

It is the third civil penalty the FAA has proposed against the business and private charter carrier since 2017, while in other actions the agency suspended and later revoked the pilot certificates of Nicolas Steele, the founder and chief executive of Steele Aviation, and a pilot he employed.

Now the FAA alleges that the company conducted at least ten unauthorised for-hire flights between January 28 and February 14 this year using a Hawker 800 jet, flying the same paying passenger to and from Burbank, Seattle Boeing Field, Teterboro, Gary, and Victoria Int'l in British Columbia, the statement contested.

"The flights were unauthorised because Steele Aviation did not have an air carrier certificate; used pilots who had not passed the required annual knowledge checks, annual flight competency checks or undergone recurrent training; used an aircraft that was not on the operating specifications of any air carrier certificate; and did not have economic operating authority from the Department of Transportation," the FAA said.

"The flights were careless or reckless and endangered lives and property," the regulator added, stating that the carrier knew the flights were unauthorised as the FAA had taken enforcement action against it twice previously for similar violations.

The two previous penalties, whose cases are still pending, were USD167,500 proposed in December 2017 for thirty-seven allegedly unauthorised flights, and USD624,000 proposed in October 2018 for sixteen such flights. In addition, the FAA suspended Nicolas Steele’s commercial pilot certificate in June 2017 for four months for acting as second in command on a round-trip flight carrying a passenger for compensation without holding an air carrier certificate. It also suspended the certificate of the pilot in command on those flights, Christian Monthy.

In April 2019, the FAA issued an emergency order revoking all certificates held by Steele and Monthy for piloting the ten flights that are the subject of the most recent penalty. Both men have appealed those revocations. Steele Aviation now has thirty days to respond to the agency.