March 12, 2020 / 12:12 AM / 17 days ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. FAA revokes operating rights for company that transported baseball, hockey teams

(Adds comment from company, no immediate from MLB, NHL)

WASHINGTON, March 11 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday issued an emergency order revoking the operating certificate of a Texas company for conducting dozens of unauthorized charter flights and using unqualified pilots.

The FAA said it was revoking the certificate for Paradigm Air Operators Inc of Dallas. The FAA said that between 2013 and 2018, Paradigm conducted at least 34 unauthorized charter flights on three Boeing 737 and 757 airplanes.

Customers included the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers baseball teams, and the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs hockey teams.

The FAA said Paradigm lacked required air carrier management and safety personnel.

Paradigm said in a statement it “is absolutely committed, and has always been committed, to providing safe operations for all of our contracted clients during the 16 years that it has held its FAA certificate without any incidents, accidents, or FAA violations.”

The statement said all of Paradigm’s pilots and crew members met FAA standards to fly aircraft and have “many years of professional experience and are specifically trained and rated for the types of aircraft being flown.”

It said it would “seek every means of appeal.”

The FAA said Paradigm operated as a direct air carrier, which was “contrary to provisions of its operating certificate.”

Under its certificate, Paradigm is allowed to conduct operations, which the FAA considers providing air transportation services for one or several selected customers, but does not have a certificate allowing it to advertise for-hire charter flights to the public, the FAA said.

The FAA said Paradigm labeled many “chartered flights as demonstration flights when the purpose was to provide common carriage air transportation.” Some flights were the result of “clients who were solicited by air charter brokers, and/or aviation consultant contractors,” it said.

Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League did not immediately respond to requests for comment. (Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Leslie Adler and Sonya Hepinstall)

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