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FAA proposes $340K fine for charter flight operators involved in Fargo, Moorhead plane crashes

Federal aviation officials allege that the charter flight operator conducted about 26 paid passenger flights in the Cessna Citation between July 2017 and November 2018. The FAA contends the parties lacked required operating and carrier permits and flew with unqualified pilots.

CessnaCitationCrash2018.jpg
This Cessna Citation crashed while landing in November 2018 at Fargo's Hector International Airport. Federal aviation officials concluded the charter flight operator was not following proper procedures and flew with unqualified pilots. Forum file photo

FARGO — Federal aviation regulators are proposing a fine of almost $340,000 for alleged illegal flight operations by charter air firms involved in crashes in Fargo and Moorhead.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it is proposing a fine of $339,716 against Slice of the 406 LLC of Helena, Montana, 82 and Sunny LLC and unnamed “associated parties in Montana and Minnesota” for charter flight operations that failed to meet requirements.

The registered agent for Slice of the 406, Deer Creek Corporate Services in Helena, declined to comment on Thursday, Sept. 9, about the proposed fine. No response was received by deadline from an email seeking comment from the firm.

The other named firm, 82 and Sunny LLC, is based in Moorhead. Attempts to reach the firm for comment were not successful.

Slice of the 406 is the owner of a Cessna Citation turboprop jet that crashed Nov. 30, 2018, at Hector International Airport in Fargo with a pilot and 10 passengers on board an aircraft designed to carry eight passengers.

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Nine passengers sustained minor injuries, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s final report of the accident.
While descending to land, the Cessna passed through clouds. Ice accumulated on the plane’s wings, vertical and horizontal stabilizers and windshield. A witness watching from a nearby office told investigators that he watched the airplane “fall out of the sky,” according to the NTSB report.

The flight, from Williston to Fargo, was piloted by a 41-year-old commercial pilot who had the proper license but lacked the required number of hours, according to the NTSB report. The pilot was not named in the report.

The FAA alleges that Slice of the 406 and the other parties conducted about 26 paid passenger flights in the Cessna Citation between July 2017 and November 2018. The FAA contends the parties lacked required operating and carrier permits.

The charter flight firms also conducted flights without appropriate operations specifications, which outline what a company is authorized to do. The charter operators flew with unqualified pilots who didn’t complete required training, testing and competency checks, according to the FAA.

Slice of the 406 also was the registered owner of a Beech King Air that crashed in a field near Moorhead while landing on Nov. 23, 2016. The pilot and one of six passengers received minor injuries.

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The Beech King Air was operated by Flight Development LLC, an air taxi firm. The probable cause of the Moorhead crash, according to federal aviation officials, was pilot’s failure to attain a positive climb rate during an attempted missed approach at night, “which resulted in a controlled flight into terrain.”

Slice of the 406 and the other parties have 30 days to respond to the FAA’s allegations and proposed fine.

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