Platinum Jet Pilot Pleads Guilty, Trial Set for Others
Francis Vieira, a former contract pilot of now-defunct Platinum Jet Management, pleaded guilty yesterday to “conspiring to defraud charter customers and brokers using interstate wires and to impede and obstruct the FAA, admitting he and his co-conspirators flew illegal flights and falsified FAA paperwork relating to the safety and regulatory compliance of its flights.” The case stems from an accident in February 2005 when a Challenger 600 operated by Platinum Jet failed to lift off, overran the end of Runway 6 at Teterboro (N.J.) Airport and plowed into the side of a clothing warehouse. The two pilots, eight passengers and a “cabin aide” suffered minor injuries. Following the accident investigation, the original indictment named Vieira, along with Platinum Jet president and CEO Michael Brassington, v-p Paul Brassington, director of maintenance Brian McKenzie, managing member Andrew Budhan and director of charters Joseph Singh as involved in conspiracy and operating the aircraft as on-demand without having a Part 135 certificate, among other charges. The Brassingtons, McKenzie and pilot John Kimberling (captain of the ill-fated flight and charged later in a separate indictment) are scheduled to stand trial starting October 12.