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FAA proposes civil pentalties against Oracle Aviation, Sioux City's new flight school operator

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Sioux Gateway Airport (copy)

SIOUX CITY -- For allegedly conducting illegal charter flights more than two years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration has proposed civil penalties against Oracle Aviation, LLC, Sioux City’s new partner for a flight school.

Oracle Aviation of Omaha is one of five companies the FAA is proposing a total of $1.2 million in civil penalties. The FAA proposes a $191,536 civil penalty against Oracle Aviation, according to a news release.

The FFA said the company allegedly used pilots who had not passed required written or oral tests, competency and proficiency checks and had not completed required training. The FAA further alleges that Oracle Aviation lacked required personnel, including a director of operations, a chief pilot and a director of maintenance.

The company conducted nine paid passenger-carrying flights in a single-engine Cessna and a single-engine Pilatus when it did not have a required air carrier or operating certificate, the FFA alleges. The company also did not have FAA-issued Operations Specifications, which describe what an operator is authorized to do.

The flights occurred between November 2018 and June 2019, using airports in Nebraska, Kansas, Washington state and Iowa, according to the release.

“The FAA alleges the flights were careless and reckless, endangering lives or property," the FAA said in its press release. 

Dave Poole, general manager at Oracle, told the Journal in an email Monday that the company has complied with the FAA's inquiry into the matter. 

"The FAA has been investigating one of our tenant aircraft for the past few years regarding dry lease flights that they conducted, which has been a big point of interest nationally for the FAA in recent months," Poole said. "During their investigation, which we fully cooperated with, the FAA has alleged that Oracle may have been involved, as we helped schedule crew and concierge services for some of these flights. We have answered their request for response, which they are now reviewing." 

Assistant City Manager Mike Collett told the Journal Monday that the city did reach out to Oracle about the matter. He referred to Poole for further comment.

The Sioux City Council voted to move forward with the Oracle Aviation Center project on July 26 to create a flight school in partnership with Morningside University.

Under the development and lease agreements with Oracle, the aviation company would lease approximately 100,000 square feet of land for the project for $20,000 per year, complete all interior finishes within the facility, and invest $1 million in furniture, fixtures and equipment. It would also lease the existing "alert hangar" for an initial seven-year term for $1,500 per month and use its best efforts to create 42 new jobs, including instructors in the new flight school.

The city, in turn, would construct and own the new $7 million hangar facility, and provide property tax rebates on a graduated scale to Oracle over the first 15 years of the lease. The city would also complete a variety of improvements and repairs to the apron, roadway and other miscellaneous exterior concrete areas, utilities and other site improvements, which are currently estimated at $295,500.

The Journal's Dolly Butz contributed reporting. 

Caitlin Yamada

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