FAA probes charter safety issue

Two corporates business jets owned

Two corporate business jets owned by a company belonging to wealthy Dallas businessman Darwin Deason are in the middle of a nationwide crackdown by the Federal Aviation Administration against unsafe charter operations.

One of the business jets crashed Feb. 2 in Teterboro, N.J., injuring 20 people. The FAA this month issued a laundry list of safety violations by the operator of the aircraft, Florida-based Platinum Jet Management. In a July 8 letter to Platinum, the FAA proposed a $1.86 million fine, which in the industry is considered unusually large. Deason is founder and chairman of the Dallas-based technology giant, Affiliated Computer Services Inc. (NYSE: ACS). Deason’s company that owned the aircraft — DDH Operating Ltd. — has not been cited by the FAA for any violations. In a lawsuit DDH filed in April against Platinum over an insurance payout on the crashed jet, DDH said Platinum’s lease agreement required Platinum to follow all FAA rules. FAA officials declined comment, but industry sources say DDH could end up saddled with the fine because the FAA departed from its normal procedure. Typically, the agency assigns the fine to the operator — in this case, Platinum. Instead, the agency in this case also proposed fines against the two planes — Canadair Challenger CL-600 jets. If the operator can’t pay, the fine could revert to the owner, aviation sources say.

Deason is DDH’s majority shareholder. The FAA can place a lien on the aircraft until payment is made.

The FAA cited Platinum with 37 violations of safety rules and said Michael Brassington, CEO of Platinum, violated FAA regulations.