The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an emergency order revoking the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) of Paradigm Air Operators (Dallas Love Field) for allegedly conducting dozens of illegal charter flights using unqualified pilots.

Federal officials grounded the charter carrier because it carried professional baseball and hockey teams, arguing in a statement dated March 11 that the company and its pilots were not authorised for this kind of commercial venture.

Under its FAA-issued AOC, Paradigm was allowed to conduct “non-common carriage and private carriage” operations - providing air transport for one or several customers, generally on a long-term basis - but not to advertise for-hire charter flights to the public, or to solicit or conduct such “common carriage” flights.

The FAA alleges that between June 2013 and March 2018, Paradigm conducted at least 34 common carriage charter flights using its two B757-200s and one B737-400. These three aircraft still constitute the airline’s fleet, according to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module. Customers included the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, and Texas Rangers baseball teams, plus the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs National hockey teams.

For 28 of these flights, Paradigm paid commissions to a consultant totalling USD101,320. For the other six flights, it received payments from an air charter broker totalling USD652,500, the FAA alleged.

On at least 11 of these occasions, Paradigm claimed the operations were demonstration flights for prospective aircraft buyers when the actual purpose was paid air transportation, the statement said.

The FAA added that Dallas-based Paradigm Air’s pilots had not finished the training and flight proficiency checks required for common-carriage flights. The company also allegedly lacked common-carriage-operations personnel including directors of safety, maintenance, and operations, a chief pilot, and a chief inspector.

Additionally, Paradigm reportedly paid a consultant a total of USD272,646 for helping to win long-term contracts it solicited and obtained with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, and Seattle Mariners baseball teams.

On at least 17 other occasions, the carrier allegedly advertised, or otherwise offered, charter flights that ended up not taking place.

Under the revocation order, Paradigm must immediately surrender its AOC and faces a civil penalty of USD13,669 for each day it fails to do so.

Paradigm did not immediately comment after being contacted by the Associated Press for a response.