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FAA grounds pilots involved in failed pilot switch stunt

By Pete Muntean, CNN

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued emergency orders grounding both pilots involved in last month’s botched and “unauthorized” Red Bull plane swap stunt.

New documents shared first with CNN show the FAA has ordered stuntmen Luke Aikins and Andy Farrington to “surrender their pilot certificates immediately.” The FAA is also proposing a $4,932 fine against Aikins for “abandoning his pilot’s seat and operating an aircraft in a reckless manner.”

Aikins and Farrington planned the April 24 plane swap stunt in which they each flew two modified Cessna 182s to 14,000 feet above the Arizona desert, pointed the planes at the ground, and attempted to sky-dive from one plane to another, leaving each plane momentarily pilotless. One of the planes spun out of control and crashed. Both men survived. The event was streamed live on Hulu.

Two days prior to the crash, the FAA denied Aikins’ request for a government waiver to perform the stunt. In a statement posted to social media in the days after the crash, Aikins said he “made the personal decision to move forward with the plane swap.”

In its May 10 emergency order, the FAA told Aikins his actions were “careless and reckless so as to endanger the life and property of another.” He is cited for violating three FAA regulations, including those requiring pilots “be at the crewmember station” at all times.

The FAA said Aikins and Farrington can appeal the revocations and fine.

CNN is reaching out to Aikins for comment.

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