Private operators posing as commercial charter providers in Europe, North America, and the Middle East are soliciting money from the “ignorant public” and, certificated operators claim, are endangering their passengers while creating unfair competition for the legitimate, rules-abiding members of the industry.

The problem is exacerbated by a dearth of government scrutiny and regulatory enforcement. As a result, it is difficult to positively identify violators, quantify the amount of illegal charter taking place, or accurately determine how widely spread the activity is. So far, the most effective vehicle for ferreting out illegal operators is observation by the legitimate, law-abiding ones. Nothing gets ones attention like a thief with his hand on your wallet.

In the United States, an Illegal Charter Hotline is maintained by NATA for reporting suspected violators — the tips are turned over to the FAA for investigation. However, no such mechanism yet exists in Europe to spotlight illegal activity. Furthermore, a confusing tangle of regulations among individual European countries, even the 27 nations comprising the European Union, complicates oversight and enforcement. What action exists in curbing illegal chartering thus falls to aviation advocacy organizations like NATA and the NBAA in the United States and the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA). Recently, the EBAA assumed the mission of educating European air charter users to the hazards of flying on non-qualifying aircraft fielded by bogus commercial operators.

Charter Barter?

“It is very difficult to identify the perpetrators because you can't follow the money,” said Greg Thomas, president and CEO of PrivatAir, a charter operator based in Geneva. “Often [payment] can occur far away from the operation, and the aircraft ownership may be vague — second-parties, LLCs, offshore companies and so forth. Payment can flow through a broker, a family member of the owner, even take the form of a barter — ‘I'll let you use my vacation home in the Bahamas if you let me take a flight on your jet.'”

EBAA President and CEO Brian Humphries estimates illegal charter as high as 40% “in some countries” but disparaged the lack of clear figures due to the few enforcement actions that have taken place in greater Europe. “We think that in Eastern Europe it's quite high,” Humphries speculated, “and we also know of one EU country where we have reports of high levels of illegal activity.” (While Humphries declined to identify the country, we subsequently and independently learned that it is Greece.)

Illegal chartering has been going on for years in Europe, Humphries believes, “but in the current financial crisis, where profit margins are down and people want more for less, there is an incentive for both brokers and passengers to go to people who can offer something more cheaply. That's why we are trying to get the message out to the passengers that, if you fly with one of these illegal operators, you will be putting your insurance and your family at risk.”

In the Middle East, it's long been acknowledged that there is a so-called “gray market” in charter activity. “The Middle East comprises a fleet of some 300 business jets,” Thomas said, “some of which are large Boeings and Airbuses, all fitted out very luxuriously and few of which could pass a commercial category test. For many years these aircraft have been used for commercial charters. I recently met a broker who does $5 million a year on charters from aircraft in this region that are not commercially certified. The flight departments operating them may have high standards, but these commercial forays they're taking are patently illegal.”

In Saudi Arabia, officials are trying to curb the practice by granting more commercial certificates. “For comparison,” Thomas continued, “Saudi Arabia currently has six AOCs [Air Operator Certificates] in its registry, while the United States has 2,000. People there are beginning to see the stirring of a regulated environment. Over time, you will see the guys who are currently conducting illegal charters forced into obtaining their proper certification. It's a difficult situation, but the public statement [at least out of Saudi Arabia] is that they will clamp down on the gray market.”

Oliver King, managing director for the Avinode Marketplace, an online empty-leg listing service exclusively for the trade (that is, it's a B2B resource closed to the public) based in Gothenburg, Sweden, spotlighted Greece and the Balkan region as a hotbed of illegal charter activity. “People know it is taking place, and we need the authorities to investigate and see what is happening,” he said.

King also had a perspective on the Middle East, which he described as “a developing market,” and as such, “there are a lot of new operators there, and it ‘grays out' between the private and commercial operation. So a lot of illegal activity may be taking place, but people accept it because it is a private operation. As a result, we have to be careful to recognize when a market is in a place of development. Where you have a lot of aircraft for private use, you will see the gray zone [growing] quite large.”

In Europe, the illegal charter situation is further complicated by the fact that each country — even those within the EU — maintains its own often unique set of cabotage rules. “If we had an open skies agreement in Europe, things would be much simpler,” King said. “But the current regime, where each country has its own bilateral agreements based on what it's negotiated — individual country pairs — prevents a simple solution.” (More on this later.)

A Cautionary Tale

The EBAA is addressing two “issues” regarding illegal charters on the Continent, Humphries said: “the guy without an AOC offering himself for charter, [which is] a safety issue, and the operator flying trips without a permit, an economic issue.” The uncertificated operator represents the more dangerous of the two and the one the EBAA is primarily targeting in its consumer-education campaign.

“Concerning the second group, those operating without permits,” Humphries continued, “if you are an EU operator, that is, registered in one of the 27 EU member countries, you can fly charters to any other EU country, as the EU is considered a single aviation market. “But conversely, if you are an EU operator and want to fly to a non-EU country, you can do so only if there's a bilateral agreement [between that country and the EU]. So if I'm operating to a country without a bilateral, then you have to have a permit. This is an economic issue.”

He went on to note that U.S. or other non-EU operators who want to fly from an EU country to their countries of registry will also need approval “because the departments of transportation of the countries concerned have to issue them a ‘non-objection' permit.”

This type of operation is becoming more common in Europe due to the posting of “open legs” on the Internet by operators and charter brokers (see “The Empty Leg Syndrome,” February 2010, page 32). “The usual scenario involves a foreign operator that flies a one-way fare into EU territory,” Humphries said, “then wants to sell the return leg rather than repositioning home. If the operator is playing by the rules — and many, we suspect, are not — it must apply to the relevant transportation ministry for the non-objection permit whereby the authorities post the flight to determine if any locally based operators object to the foreign operator competing with them for the trip. We note that a lot of U.S. operators are advertising empty legs for this purpose . . . and many seem to be unaware that they need this permit.”

Asked if any of these foreign-registered airplanes picking up charters in European territory illegally were American, PrivatAir's Thomas exclaimed, “Oh yeah! Many of the violators are N-registered business jets. They'll fly the Atlantic on a one-way and will look for a fare to get home or to make some money while they're over here. This is a common practice and quite typical when times are economically difficult, as we've seen the last few years. Essentially it is a violation of cabotage rules [that vary from country to country], which is why it is illegal.

“Because of the size of your country and the huge amount of airspace above it,” Thomas continued, “American operators become accustomed to not having to worry about crossing borders when they fly their missions. You can fly for 5 hr. in the United States without crossing a border; however, in Europe, 30 sec. after takeoff from Geneva, you can be in France and 15 min. later in Italy.” Although European airspace has become a lot freer — in principle — cabotage rules still apply, making it very difficult for EU operators, as well, to operate intra-country flights. “For example,” Thomas pointed out, “a German operator can't do a France-to-France flight without approval from the French authorities.”

But to the Europeans, the private operator selling seats on non-qualifying aircraft “is the more worrying one because there is a good reason why there is a difference between private and commercial flying, and it is to assure that the safety of the passengers is protected,” Thomas observed. “The concept behind private flying is that it is the owner controlling the operation and that the owner is therefore free to apply whatever standards he or she wants to [his or her] flying. But if you're flying the public and extracting fares from them for the service [i.e., “holding out”] you are responsible for assuring the safety of the operation [to mandated commercial standards].”

The Competitive Advantage

Thomas, whose charter/management company has had to meet European standards for commercial operators, emphasized the difference between the two categories of operation, varying from materials used in the cabin to qualification and training of cockpit crews and cabin attendants. “For example, in the commercial application, seat cushion foams, upholstery covers and veneers used to cover tables and cabinetry all have to pass burn tests, and glass used for partitions or bulkheads has to be shatter-proof. In the larger aircraft, you have to have ratios of cabin crew to passenger numbers, proper crew seats so the cabin attendants can view all the passengers, and all crew have to be properly trained. A lot of private flying does not meet these qualifications.”

As a result, the illegal operator, with lower overhead and related costs, holds a competitive advantage over the rules-abiding charter provider. “At PrivatAir,” Thomas said, “we have 10 aircraft in our livery, plus we broker flights out of a pool of aircraft from suppliers that we audit. We hold full commercial air operator certifications in Switzerland and Germany under EASA [European Aviation Safety Agency] plus International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit [IOSA] approval and approvals from both Wyvern and Argus. Now, all of this costs money — the mere fact of having the commercial certification runs us €2 million a year. We are required to have a quality manager, chief pilot, ground operations manager and other staff positions. Additionally, manuals have to be kept up to date. So we are at a disadvantage to the guy who is renting off the spare time on his private jet.”

A provision in commercial operating regulations among several European countries, including the U.K., that the EBAA believes encourages illegal chartering is runway restrictions. “Whereas you in the United States under Part 135 have an agreement for use of 80% of runway distance subject to risk assessment,” Humphries said, “we over here are required, as commercial operators, to use 60% of the runway for performance.” This provision dates from the late 1950s when jet aircraft were introduced by the airlines and the flight crews of some DC-8s and 707s committed runway overruns. “However,” Humphries continued, “here's the rub: Private operators are not required to observe that restriction, and that may be an incentive to send a charter out under private rules, especially if the aircraft is going into an airport with a shorter strip.”

Another tactic to mask an illegal charter is the short-term lease. “We suspect that there may have been some people engineering short-term aircraft leases to get around the rules,” Humphries said. “They offer the lease and a crew to the customer, they make the flight, and then they terminate the lease. That is technically legal, but not quite within the spirit of the law. We have been urging the authorities to put a stop to this practice.”

Given the lack of oversight, Humphries believes “it is in the best interests of the EBAA to do everything possible to ensure that our members are operating to best practices and within the law. And those EBAA members who are legitimate charter providers are not happy with the people who are undercutting them, those who aren't paying the fees to obtain an AOC and submitting themselves to the requirements and oversight endemic to being a commercial operator — all the overhead you have to bear in this business. So the illegal operator has a competitive advantage.”

He went on to say that “charter brokers are working with us, as well, to ensure they have the necessary controls in place. Avinode, for example, has told us it will find ways to flag its Web listings ‘subject to permit.' And we are working with them on this.”

Illegal Charter in the U.S.

In the United States, even in the shadow of the 2005 Challenger business jet accident at Teterboro — a Part 91 aircraft and crew operating on a Part 135 certificate illegally shared by two charter companies, a clear violation of Part 135 operational control provisions (see “The Dark Side of Charter,” August 2005, page 40) — illegal charter continues to occur. One aviation safety advocate who is convinced of this is Jim Ballough, who formerly headed the FAA's Flight Standards Service and after retiring from federal service began J. Ballough Global Aviation Solutions, a safety consultancy. It was in the wake of the TEB mishap that Ballough spearheaded the Part 135 revision of operational control rules (specifically, paragraph A008) and subsequent nationwide briefing and inspection of charter operators. One piece of evidence that convinces him is the yield of reports from NATA's illegal charter reporting hotline and resulting investigations by the FAA.

“I think it is impossible to measure the amount [of illegal activity], but the best gauge for that is the legitimate Part 135 operators, as they become aware of the perpetrators faster than anyone else,” he said. “The FAA has an obligation to investigate all complaints. Statistics were provided at the Air Charter Safety Foundation meeting [in mid-March] reflecting illegal activity and subsequent FAA investigations, and they will be published on the ACSF website. It's incumbent on the industry to help police that activity, and when the FAA becomes aware of it, they investigate the reports.”

The NBAA shares NATA's concern about business jet operators booking illegal charters, and Mike Nichols, the former's vice president of operations, education and economics, identified the two primary examples of it in the United States: the Part 91 operator who may be committing a violation inadvertently out of ignorance or, a Part 91 operator advertising as a commercial operator.

The former category, which Nichols specializes in unraveling for NBAA member companies, derives from lack of awareness of some of the more Byzantine strictures buried in the FARs and the boundaries they specify for private operators. Ignorance (never an excuse in aviation or tax law) of them could lead an operator to commit a violation without knowing it — until the local POI arrives for a little chat. As Nichols pointed out, these provisions identify “charging entities” within the corporate structure otherwise explicitly permitted by the FAA under FAR Part 91.501(b)(5). “The regulation is pretty complex, though,” he warned. The more complicated the corporate structure controlling (or sharing) the aircraft, the easier it is to bust one of those boundaries.

While the FAA has a general prohibition on payment for flights conducted under Part 91, there are some explicit exceptions found in Subpart F of Part 91, the most common of which is the “affiliated group exception,” 91.501(b)(5), which permits the company to receive reimbursement for up to the fully allocated costs of owning and operating the airplane for the carriage of employees, officials and guests of the company — and here's the caveat — as long as the flight is within the scope of and incidental to the company's business. “When the carriage is not within the scope of the business of the company or incidental to its business, 91.501(b)(5) is no longer an option,” Nichols said, “so a challenge for Part 91 operators who want to ensure they are not inadvertently conducting illegal charter flights is that they must understand any charge-backs or reimbursements that may be made for a particular flight.” That means it's incumbent on the company to set up procedures to ensure compliance with the FARs.

Time-sharing is another minefield. “If a flight cannot meet the requirements of the affiliated group exception,” Nichols continued, “companies may consider entering into a time-sharing agreement, the provisions of which are found in FAR Part 91.501(c)(1).” However, the company cannot charge the same amount that the affiliated group exception permits — the maximum it can charge under a time-share is specified in FAR Part 91.501(d), which lists 10 items that must be specific to the individual flight (at least there's some guidance there).

“You can't take an average of your costs,” Nichols cautioned, “it has to be the specific cost. It does not include typical fixed costs, such as pilot compensation, general insurance, hangar rent and so forth. What it includes are the variable costs for a specific flight.”

Flight Department Traps

Another common mistake that Part 91 operators often make bears on the ownership and operation of the aircraft.

“It is still common for an aircraft owner to place the aircraft into a separate entity — an LLC, S-Corp and so forth — in order to isolate potential liability resulting from the operation of the aircraft,” Nichols said. “When the aircraft is owned and operated in that separate entity and there is no business other than air transportation, that separate entity under FAA rules is required to be a licensed air carrier. When companies are looking to protect themselves from liability, this may sound alien; however, it is a position the FAA has been clear and firm about as evidenced by at least three FAA chief counsel ‘interpretations on point.'” So take heed.

In and of itself, placing ownership of the aircraft in a separate entity is not illegal — it's the ownership and operation of the aircraft in a vessel engaged in no other business that casts it as an illegal charter operation in the eyes of the feds. “One of the most common questions we get [at NBAA] from member companies is how to limit liability for the operation of the aircraft,” Nichols related, “and the answer is operating legally and carrying proper aviation insurance. Operators who have aircraft placed in ‘flight department companies' should consult immediately with qualified aviation legal counsel, that is, lawyers who are familiar with Part 91.501. Many times in-house legal and accounting departments, or contracted outside firms, both of which may not be familiar with the labyrinth of Federal Aviation Regulations, may recommend placing the aircraft in one of these flight department companies, not knowing the FAA views them as illegal charter.”

But wait, there's still a web in which the unsuspecting operator can become inadvertently snared: the aircraft placed in a management company for operation under both Part 91, for the owner's use, and Part 135 for third-party charters.

“To this day, the area where we still see the most amount of confusion in operational control is when aircraft are placed with management companies,” Nichols claimed. “First, often the owner doesn't understand operational control and thinks that the management company is the operator of the airplane, even for Part 91 flights, and second, there are still some management companies that do not fully understand operational control and want to retain it for all flights, yet still conduct owner flights under Part 91. There are tax issues involved here, as well, and once the FAA is through with you, the IRS will come knocking on your door.”

NATA Regulatory Affairs Director Jackie Rosser adds a subcategory to the lexicon of illegal charter. “Yes,” she said, “there's the Part 91 inadvertent business structure receiving compensation for transportation. And there's the operator that does not hold an AOC and is receiving money for flying bogus charters, but I would add a ‘sub-definition,' a much smaller population, and that would be the certificate holder fielding an aircraft that is not listed in its op specs [e.g., the TEB Challenger].” But the category NATA is most concerned about “is the operator who straight up does not have a certificate but is engaged in illegal activity,” Rosser asserted. “It is a very difficult number to pin down. Most legitimate operators will tell you they have seen it, so it's prevalent enough to get their attention when they have to compete with an illegal operator who's undercutting them on price.”

Given that in any line of activity there will always be those who will try to cheat the system, the lack of enforcement is a real problem. According to Rosser, the FAA system is not set up to police illegal activity, beginning with insufficient numbers of inspectors in the field. Existing inspectors are dedicated to enforcing and inspecting the operators with certificates and thus are familiar with those commercial operators on the FAA and DOT registries.

“There is no office in FAA headquarters similar to the operational control emphasis team [set up by Ballough] or the alcohol emphasis team,” Rosser pointed out. “There is no cop on the corner, or to use another analogy, if the troopers are not using radar on the highway, drivers will be more inclined to speed. It is the threat of enforcement that gets people to comply. And enforcement in the air charter business — weeding out the bad actors — is essentially nil.”

No Deterrent for Bogus Operators

The job is also complicated by the fact that the FAA has no hammer to use on illegal operators. “What do you take away from them, anyway?” Rosser asks. “You can't seize the airplane. If someone is willing to operate an aircraft outside the regulations and the FAA revokes their pilot certificate, they've already demonstrated they are operating outside the regs, so what's stopping them from just going right out and doing it again after the FAA inspector leaves? [Operating an aircraft without the proper pilot certificate — or no certificate at all — is a civil, not a criminal, offense punished by a relatively small fine.] So it's really hard to stop someone who's determined to break the law. There is really no deterrent.”

In defense of the understaffed FSDOs and their POIs toiling in the field, Russ Lawton, safety director at the Air Charter Safety Foundation, added that “. . . if you consider the lack of resources at the FAA today, basically most inspectors barely have time to track activities they have at their office, let alone police charter violators. Plus they have other entities like flight schools they're responsible for.”

Rosser continued: “You can't do indirectly what you're prohibited from doing directly. What is the real intent of the flight, what are they really selling here, what is the customer's expectation of what they're doing? The entire FAA system is set up on people voluntarily doing what is required of them. But if you are someone who is intentionally breaking the law because it's cheaper to do it that way, there is no mechanism at the FAA that is set up to go after a business that is operating an aircraft illegally — there is no special office, there are no inspectors specially trained to police this.”

The lack of FAA resources was the impetus for establishment of the NATA hotline, Lawton said. The idea for a reporting service originated in the aftermath of the TEB Challenger accident and was initially financed through an FAA grant. It went live in 2008, and callers can remain anonymous if they choose. (See sidebar.) While the FAA funding has expired, NATA has committed to continue staffing the hotline.

Whether the FAA can initiate investigations of suspected illegal charter providers depends on the quality of the information provided by callers. “The person who staffs the line tries to get a callback number for follow-ups,” Lawton said, “but if someone gives a vague report, it's pretty hard to follow up on that.” If there is good detail, such as names and dates, the caller will be asked if he or she has any objections to NATA forwarding the information to FAA Flight Standards Service (most don't). “The feedback we've gotten from the FAA is that they do act on the data. It is difficult to know definitely, though, until an investigation takes place, and that can take a lot of time, years even. What we really need is feedback from the [violator's] customers, and that is very hard to capture. And it can be factually difficult to prove.”

Rosser added that, “If I place a bogus ad in the newspaper saying I'm a charter operator, that is a violation of DOT regs. They would have the authority to go after me for unfair and deceptive practices. And they have gone after brokers advertising ‘our fleets.' But that is not a violation of FAA rules, and from [the FAA's] standpoint, they cannot be involved until there is movement of an aircraft, and they won't know that until someone reports it because there is no FAA protocol to routinely spot-check all Part 91 ops [aside from fractional ownership].”

What the Industry Can Do

In Europe, the EBAA's Humphries said, enforcement of charter regulations “is very light — the French are more rigorous than others, and the U.K. has said it will start to clamp down. These things are difficult to enforce, though. That is why we in the EBAA are tending to approach it from a different direction by informing passengers and charter brokers of the [illegal] practices. We've had more than 4,000 leaflets [actually a pamphlet available on the EBAA website at titled Is My Flight Legal?] requested from our members. It is a concentrated-action campaign. We are not policemen, we are an association whose remit is the encouragement of best practices, and we are trying to work with the authorities, brokers and users, and our approach is education.”

The phrase “ignorant public” was coined by the U.S. DOT to denote the laypeople — airline or charter customers who would otherwise not be expected to be conversant with FARs and mandated safety requirements — who trust their lives to certificated air carriers on the assumption the companies are abiding by the rules.

Now, given the haphazard government policing of violators, charter customers are forced into being advocates for their own safety, that is, being better informed about the pitfalls of flying with illegal operators. The NBAA and NATA have published their own consumer guides to explain the ins and outs of air charter and its providers. The NBAA's is the Aircraft Charter Consumer Guide. Simultaneously, NATA released two pamphlets, Chartering an Aircraft: A Consumer Guide and Risk of Illegal Charter. All are free and downloadable at the organizations' websites: and

NATA's Rosser believes a three-pronged approach must be made if “we are going to be serious” about addressing illegal charter. For the first prong, she wants the FAA to empower a hit team to “go around the country and spot-check Part 91 operators, those that are not on an AOC, with the authority to prosecute violators.”

The second prong, of course, is consumer education. In addition to the consumer guides cited, Rosser maintains that the industry must “alert the media that illegal chartering goes on and that people are risking their lives by flying with the bogus operators. A very low price offered for a charter should be a concern, it should raise red flags in the consumer's mind.”

The third prong — really part of the consumer ed campaign — is to teach charter customers to verify that air carriers hold AOCs, “that the aircraft they're putting me on is actually on their certificate, and that they are eligible to conduct operations. Right now that is difficult to find out.”

And that information must be easily accessible. Currently, Rosser said, interested consumers can “go to and verify that an operator has an AOC, unravel dba's, find the FSDO that has authority over them, and determine the number and types of aircraft the operator is fielding. But they don't give you tail numbers for determining whether an aircraft is actually on the operator's certificate. So the only way to really know is to use one of the auditing services like Wyvern or to call the FSDO to verify whether an aircraft is on the operator's certificate. The point is that there is no easy way to do this.”

Passengers have a “right to know” they are flying on a certified air carrier, Ballough asserted. “Having said that, the industry needs to educate the public to ask the right questions when they charter a flight. I would compare it to what taxi cabs are required to do in posting a ‘bill of rights' for passengers in the cabs. We need to educate the public such that they understand that, when they charter, it must be on a certified FAR Part 135 air carrier, that it's in their own best interest to assure that.”

In the U.S., South Florida has long been known as a nest of shady aviation activity, and bogus charter is high on the list of infractions with little, if any, enforcement. Thus, the charter customer in Florida or elsewhere must be especially discerning in selecting and evaluating a prospective carrier. Advertising, especially on the Internet, should be carefully scrutinized. Offers of pilot training on cross-country flights as an alternative to charter (when, in fact, there is no intent to provide flight instruction), cross-country “demo flights,” or pricing significantly lower than that of established charter providers listing their AOC numbers and auditors (e.g., Wyvern, Argus, etc.) should immediately hoist Rosser's red flags. As should brokers claiming to be operators fielding “fleets” of aircraft. Just as in any endeavor, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Charter Broker’s Responsibility

Then, too, charter brokerages play an increasingly important part in informing passengers — and protecting them from illegal commercial operators. Ballough believes that brokers have “an obligation when they advertise to let the public know up front that they will book their flights through an air carrier but that they themselves are not air carriers. Brokers are not regulated, but it would be nice to see them registered with the DOT. It is an economic issue, and if they had to register, that would weed out a lot of the bad actors.”

PrivatAir's Thomas, speaking from the European perspective, concurred, saying “Brokers play a big role in this.” He noted that “sometimes you get entrants who don't understand the rules or the capabilities of the aircraft. It's ironic that if you book a holiday, you're protected through bonding practices, but if you do a hundred-thousand-dollar charter, no one is regulating that.”

He also addressed the issue of charter operators' insurance coverage. “If an aircraft owner who is not a commercial operator takes money from a fare, the insurance on the aircraft is voided because the insurer is underwriting a private operation. Premiums for private operations are much less expensive than those for commercial flying. And in the event of an accident, the surviving passengers or families of victims injured or killed will quickly learn that the insurer won't pay compensation — the policy on the aircraft will have been voided due to the illegality of the operation.”

Again, Thomas maintained, the customer must ask the operator the right questions and demand to see the operator's AOC and proof of proper insurance coverage. On the other hand, “Some customers are cognizant of the fact that the aircraft they are taking is not qualified, but they are ready to take a better deal. And the perpetrators will charge less money. There is an assumption on the part of the public that this is regulated. It's important that the public be informed about the benefits of a regulated operation, and that's what [legitimate commercial operators like PrivatAir] pride ourselves on.”

In the meantime, Jackie Rosser has an action plan for NATA, “to push the FAA to dedicate resources to ferreting out illegal activity and then working with the FAA and DOT to create consumer-friendly ways to validate legal operators. Ultimately the consumer assumes that the FAA and DOT are in charge of these things . . . and they aren't. There is a fair amount of caveat emptor, but we have to provide them with the tools. The information is out there; it just has to be presented to the public in a manner that is clear and easy to access.” BCA