FAA revokes pilots’ licenses after unsuccessful Red Bull plane swap attempt

Red Bull Air Force Facebook Page

The pilots behind Red Bull’s plane swap stunt in April 2022 have had their licenses revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Experienced skydivers and pilots Luke Aikins and Andy Farrington, who are cousins, attempted a plane swap stunt, sponsored by energy drink company Red Bull, on April 24,2022 over Eloy, Arizona.

The stunt, which took almost a year to prepare, involved two solo-piloted planes flown by Aikins and Farrington, respectively, diving toward the ground, with each pilot jumping from his plane then diving alongside and into the other plane.

The physics-defying stunt, however, did not turn out to be successful as only one pilot, Aikins, was able to get to the other’s aircraft. The other aircraft was seen spiraling upwards, spinning out of control and later on crashing.

Farrington ended up having to deploy his parachute, and was able to safely land on ground. 

The FAA conducted an investigation after the incident, and it was revealed that the administration had denied a request from organizers to get an exemption from regulations that cover the safe operation of aircraft. 

“The attempted stunt resulted in the crash of one of the two single-engine Cessna 182 aircraft,” the FAA said in a statement seen by NBC News

“The lead pilot requested an exemption for the stunt from the FAA, which the agency denied.”

On April 29, 2022, Aikins released a statement via Instagram, taking responsibility for what occurred during the plane swap.

“As project lead and chief pilot, it was entirely my responsibility to operate within the regulatory framework to ensure a successful outcome. I received an email notice April 22, 2022 from the FAA that a specific exemption was not granted and I made the personal decision to move forward with plane swap. I regret not sharing this information with my team and those who supported me,” Aikins said in a statement.

The pilots could reapply for license reinstatement in one year.


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