WEBSTER

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is seeking $154,000 in penalties from a Webster aviation company and its owner, asserting they don’t have the proper certification for operating, officials announced Thursday.

Federal prosecutors filed a civil penalty action against Michael D. King and Ascent Aviation Solutions LLC in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas, asserting King operated the company as a direct air carrier without the proper certification from the Federal Aviation Administration, said Angela Dodge, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

A direct air carrier provides air transportation and maintains control over operational functions, Dodge said.

But Ascent uses a dry lease meant to circumvent requirements for direct air carriers, in which the lessee leases the equipment and is responsible for all control of the place, Dodge said.

One passenger entered into a dry lease with Ascent officials and took at least 14 trips with the company, but did not have control of the plane and paid the company to fly him from one city to another, Dodge said. During those trips, company officials hired pilots and handled all flight logistics.

The pilots hadn’t passed competency checks or instrument checks required under regulations governing direct air carriers, Dodge said.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com

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