FAA proposes $2.2M fine for Indy-area charter operators, claiming flights were illegal

Keywords Air / Airports / Transportation

The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed a nearly $2.2 million fine against the operators of a private air travel service based in the Indianapolis area for allegedly conducting illegal charter flights.

The aviation regulatory agency names 11 individuals and limited liability companies in its citation, but the allegations boil down to two people: Gary Aletto of Carmel and Bradley Cable of Bonita Springs, Florida. They both are named in the citation, and the FAA claims that they control the nine named LLCs.

The FAA announced the proposed fine on Friday.

The FAA alleges that between March 2017 and February 2018, the parties conducted approximately 168 paid passenger-carrying flights in six Cessna CE-500 series planes. The parties did not have the required FAA operating or air carrier certificates, and they conducted flights without appropriate operation specifications, which outline what a company is authorized to do.

The FAA further alleges the parties used unqualified pilots who did not complete the training, testing, and competency checks that the FAA requires.

The parties have 30 days to respond to the FAA after receiving the agency’s enforcement letters. The proposed fine is considered a settlement, and the parties may choose to make a counter offer or challenge the allegations.

Contacted by IBJ, Aletto declined to comment and referred a reporter to attorney Tim Maher of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, who did not immediately respond for comment Monday morning. IBJ attempted to get in touch with Cable but was told by a family member that he was out of the country and unavailable.

According to the FAA, Aletto, Cable and their LLCs worked in concert to provide the flights, handling different aspects of the charter service.

The proposed fine appears to be a milestone in a years-long FAA regulatory action against Aletto and related parties for an air service operation based out of the Indianapolis Regional Airport in Greenfield.

Aletto, the CEO of Bright Sheet Metal, and friends helped launch a private air-travel service called AirXL in the 2000s as a lower-cost alternative to commercial charter operators. It had six Cessna Citation jets operating out of Indianapolis Regional Airport.

Executives could own stakes in the jets and sign leases to use them as their personal transportation.

It wasn’t immediately clear on Monday whether AirXL was still operating.

The FAA began asking questions about AirXL LLC way back in 2013 and issued its first batch of subpoenas in 2014.

After executives and the LLCs that own the jets responded by providing the FAA more than 2,000 pages of documents, the investigation took an apparent 33-month hiatus before the agency issued additional subpoenas in December 2017 and August 2018.

In the citation announced Friday, the FAA named the following people and firms as responsible for the proposed penalty: Aletto, Cable, GSA Investment Inc., AirXL LLC, Excel 2 LLC, Excel 3 LLC, Excel 4 LLC, CJI LLC, Indy Bravo LLC, Citation Management LLC, and Indy Jet Management LLC.

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