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Air Trek Has Its License Revoked

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. -- Air Trek, an air ambulance company based in Punta Gorda for 30 years, had its operating license revoked by federal officials last week.

The action by the Federal Aviation Administration comes less than a month after the agency suspended Air Trek's carrier's license on May 23.

Further inspections, which turned up more serious problems than those cited previously, led the agency to revoke Air Trek's license on June 10.

"Our findings as a part of that investigation indicated that revocation was in order as opposed to the suspension," said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the FAA's southern region.

The FAA's emergency revocation letter cited 14 air traffic safety regulation violations, including flying aircraft that had not been deemed safe, failure to follow weight guidelines, deceptively recording maintenance shortfalls, allowing pilots to make international flights without proper training or certification, and letting pilots fly after they had failed required tests.

"Air Trek's systemic noncompliance with regulatory requirements is unacceptable and a danger to the flying public," the FAA's letter said.

Once a company's carrier license is revoked, it must wait a year to reapply.

Air Trek has appealed the FAA's decision to the National Transportation Safety Board and will go before an administrative law judge in a three-day hearing beginning July 8 in Fort Myers.

Company owners Wayne and Dana Carr did not return phone calls on Wednesday.

Air Trek employs about 50 pilots and physicians to transport and care for sick or injured people. A person who falls ill on a cruise may hire an air ambulance such as Air Trek to travel from a remote port to a U.S. hospital.

The FAA has kept a closer eye on the air ambulance company since an Air Trek plane in Panama crashed in July 2004. Six people died in the crash, four of them Americans. Relatives have sued the company.

Since the Panama crash, Air Trek planes have been in nonfatal crashes in Butler, Pa., and Beverly, Mass.

The FAA's revocation letter indicated that the problems date back to at least 2005 and continued into this year.

For instance, on April 5 and April 29, pilots acted as first officers on international flights without holding the proper qualifications.

This month, the company refused to allow the FAA to inspect its aircraft.

BACKGROUND CHECK

An Air Trek plane crashed in July 2004 in Panama, killing six. Since then, Air Trek planes have been in nonfatal crashes in Butler, Pa., and Beverly, Mass.

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