A commercial hot air balloon pilot who continued to fly passengers, even though he no longer held a valid pilot's licence, has been fined and ordered to pay costs, following a successful prosecution by the Civil Aviation Authority.
In February 2015, Michael Simon Jennings, underwent a statutory medical examination, by an Aero-Medical Examiner (AME) to obtain a medical certificate, which is required to validate his pilot's licence. He was found to have increased blood pressure and put on weight since his last medical and so a certificate could not be issued.
In accordance with the CAA's guidance, the AME sought further information from Mr Jennings' GP, who confirmed a high body mass index and raised blood pressure.
In April 2015 Mr Jennings passed a flight test and was issued with a medical certificate, under the proviso he supply his AME with evidence of continued weight loss to ensure he was fit to fly.
Between April 2015 and July 2015, despite numerous prompts by the AME, Mr Jennings failed to provide any information indicating weight loss.
In July 2015 the AME informed the CAA, and Mr Jennings' medical certificate was suspended, which immediately suspended his pilot's licence. Despite being informed of this, Mr Jennings continued to fly passengers in his hot air balloon.
Mr Jennings offences came to light when he attempted to renew his medical certificate with a different AME.
Appearing at Swindon Magistrates' Court, Mr Jennings, admitted two counts of acting as a pilot of a hot air balloon flight without being the holder of an appropriate licence in contravention of the Air Navigation Order 2016. The offences took place on 2 October 2016 and 21 October 2016.
Following his guilty pleas at court this week (Monday 23 October 2017) Mr Jennings, 49, of Malmesbury, Wiltshire, was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay CAA costs of £350
It is a legal requirement for all licensed pilots to have an up-to-date aviation medical certificate.
The CAA will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure aviation safety laws are fully complied with and this includes prosecution.
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