Five company officials and a pilot associated with Platinum Jet Management, LLC were named in a 23-count Indictment charging a series of crimes, including endangering the safety of aircraft.
The Indictment alleges a conspiracy to commit continuous willful violations of regulatory requirements for the operation of commercial charter aircraft. The Indictment also accuses the defendants of routinely undertaking and concealing dangerous fueling and weight distribution practices which existed on the Platinum-operated jet that failed to lift off at Teterboro on Feb. 2, 2005. The jet left the end of the runway, crossed Route 46, hitting cars along the way, and slammed through the side of a clothing warehouse.
The Teterboro flight that crashed on Feb. 2, 2005, was over-fueled in a manner that caused the plane’s center of gravity to exceed its forward weight limit for takeoff, contributing to the crash, according to the Indictment. The fueling practice was commonly used, according to the Indictment, to increase profits for Platinum Jet.
According to the Indictment, from November 2002 until November 2003, the conspirators operated Platinum Jet as an on-demand commercial jet charter company without having a Part 135 certificate, which is required by federal aviation regulations for charter operations. During this period, the conspirators lied in contractual documents faxed from state to state to charter brokers about Platinum Jet’s illegal regulatory and safety status. The Indictment claims that the defendants operated more than 85 commercial flights during this period in violation of federal safety regulations for more than $1 million in compensation.
The Indictment further alleges that, in November 2003, the conspirators started sharing a Part 135 certificate, or "piggybacking," with a Part 135 certificate holder based in Alabama, and that after they did so, they continued to violate FAA rules by dispatching unqualified pilots and pilots without the FAA-required amount of rest to fly chartered flights. To conceal this illegality, the Indictment alleges, Platinum Jet pilots signed FAA mandated flight logs for more than 30 charter-brokered flights falsely indicating that those charters were private, non-profit flights, which are subject to less onerous regulation than commercial flights. This alleged conduct lasted from November 2003 until shortly after the crash at Teterboro Airport in February 2005. (The United States Attorney’s Office District of New Jersey)