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North County airline’s application deemed ‘incomplete’ by FAA

CARLSBAD — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rejected North County’s first airline’s initial certification application, deeming it “incomplete” and “inaccurate,” according to a letter sent to the airline’s founder on Aug. 7. 

California Pacific Airlines (CP Air) began its application process with the FAA several years ago in the hopes of operating 15 daily nonstop flights from Carlsbad’s McClellan-Palomar Airport to Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Cabo San Lucas.

Though the airline’s officials intended for operations to take off in 2012, CP Air’s application was initially stalled due to FAA sequestration budget cuts.

Having resumed its review of airline certification applications, the FAA sent CP Air founder Ted Vallas a letter that cited numerous errors in the airlines’ application.

The letter also listed inaccurate responses to Federal Aviation Regulations and the failing of half of the Safety Attribution Inspections.

“We rejected CP Air’s formal application for certification due to a number of deficiencies,” said Ian Gregor, the public affairs manager of the FAA Pacific Division.

“We agree there were errors,” said CP Air CEO and President John Selvaggio. But he qualified the errors identified in CP Air’s application, saying that the FAA’s application evaluation is “subjective.”

“Different people reviewing these materials have different opinions on what the right answers are,” he said.

He said that CP Air will resubmit its application materials before the Sept. 13 deadline set by the FAA and will be meeting with FAA authorities next week to discuss the application.

Selvaggio added that CP Air intends on gaining the necessary FAA certification by the end of the year and will begin flying three months after obtaining that approval.

“This is not a death sentence for the airline,” he said.

While CP Air awaits certification, the airline has leased its only aircraft, a 70-passenger Embraer 170, to Honeywell in Phoenix, Ariz.

Selvaggio stated that Embraer has frozen the lease on the plane until CP Air is operational so investors will not have to finance the $200,000 monthly rental cost of the plane.

However, CP Air investors are still on the hook for current operational costs, which Selvaggio called “relatively minor.”

Selvaggio said he continues to manage most of CP Air’s operations, but Vallas, who is over 90 years old, still contributes to some management tasks.

He said that Vallas would most likely retire from his position at CP Air after the airline receives FAA certification and begins flying.