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FAA revokes pilot licenses of performers after failed Red Bull plane swap ends in crash

The two pilots sponsored by Red Bull in a midair plane-swap stunt that ended with one of their planes crashing are no longer pilots. The FAA has revoked both pilots' licenses after last month's failed attempt for the two to jump into one another's Cessna 182 at 14,000 feet. A statement released by the FAA said: "The FAA revoked the pilot certificates of the two pilots involved in the unauthorized Red Bull plane swap stunt on April 24, 2022, in Arizona. The attempted stunt resulted in the crash of one of the two single-engine Cessna 182 aircraft. The lead pilot requested an exemption for the stunt from the FAA, which the agency denied." Both individuals must surrender their pilot certificates immediately. The FAA also proposed a $4,932 fine against Luke Aikins for abandoning his pilot's seat and operating an aircraft in a reckless manner. The FAA added that the fines are capped by federal statute. An appeal process is available for the revocations and fine. It's unclear whether either former pilot will appeal during the 10 days following the date of the order. Aikins, the lead pilot for the Red Bull Plane Swap and the creator of the stunt, unsuccessfully petitioned the FAA to get a waiver to allow the stunt, which the FAA denied.The FAA says he admitted publicly that he withheld information that the FAA denied the request for an exemption. The emergency order of revocation delivered to Aikens dated May 10 states, "the acting administrator has determined that an emergency exists related to safety in air commerce and that immediate action to revoke your commercial pilot certificate, remote pilot certificate and any other certificates issued to you, excluding airman medical certificates, is required."The order finds that Aikens violated 14 CFR Sec. 91.105(a), requiring a flight crewmember be at the crewmember station, and 14 CFR Sec. 91.113 (b) regarding maintaining vigilance while operating an aircraft. The order determines the incident to be an emergency and that Aikens' actions "were careless and reckless so as to endanger life and the property of another." The order issued to the second former pilot, Andrew Farrington, contains similar language, revoking his commercial pilot certificate, airman medical certificate and master parachute rigger certificate. A second order, a notice of proposed assessment, issued to Aikens levies the fines for disregarding the FAA's denial of an exemption to perform the stunt. The $4,932 in fines is the maximum of three violations of Federal Aviation Regulations, at $1,644, according to the notice sent to Aikens.INTERACTIVE POLL: With the recent high-profile cases of stunts by pilots/organizations purposefully placing good flying aircraft in harm's way, should the FAA should step in with stricter penalties? In a letter obtained by GlobalAir.com, the FAA denied Red Bull's request for an exemption two days before the stunt was to be live-streamed on Hulu. Aikins petitioned the FAA for an exemption from regulation 91.105(a)(1), which states that a person must be in the cockpit when an aircraft is in flight. When asked by the agency how granting the exemption would be in the public interest, Aikins said he had "made media and sponsor commitment regarding this event." Earlier this month, Aikens posted an apology to his Instagram account, saying: "As project lead and chief pilot, it was entirely my responsibility to operate within the regulatory framework to ensure a successful outcome. "I received email notice April 22, 2022 from the FAA that a specific exemption was not granted and I made the personal decision to move forward with plane swap. I regret not sharing this information with my team and those who supported me. "I am now turning my attention to cooperatively working transparently with the regulatory authorities as we review the planning and execution." As of Friday afternoon, Aikens had not posted anything else on the account related to the FAA investigation. PREVIOUS COVERAGE:Red Bull Plane Swap pilot apologizes for failed stunt, ignoring FAAFAA investigating Red Bull plane swap after stunt ends in crash
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