FAA revokes licenses of pilots in failed Red Bull plane swap

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Luke Aikins and Andy Farrington must surrender their pilot certificates immediately, the FAA said. (Red Bull Content Pool)

(The Hill) – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Thursday that it has revoked the licenses of the two pilots involved in the unauthorized Red Bull plane swap stunt that took place in April in Arizona.

The pilots tried to swap planes while descending. One pilot landed without injuries after being forced to jump and parachute to the ground when one of the Cessna planes spun out of control.

The other pilot regained control of the second aircraft and landed, the agency told The Hill last month

The FAA confirmed to The Hill that “the attempted stunt resulted in the crash of one of the two single-engine Cessna 182 aircraft. The lead pilot requested an exemption for the stunt from the FAA, which the agency denied.”

Red Bull pilots Luke Aikins and Andy Farrington, who had FAA commercial pilot certificates and have conducted more than 20,000 skydives, attempted the stunt during an event called the “Plane Swap,” which was sponsored by the energy drink company and streamed on Hulu.

Both Aikins and Farrington must surrender their pilot certificates immediately, the FAA said.

In a statement shared on Instagram last month, Aikens said that he made the “personal decision to move forward with [the] plane swap” despite the FAA not granting the exemption he was seeking from the rule that pilots must be at the tiller of the plane with safety belts fastened.

“I regret not sharing this information with my team and those who supported me,” he added. 

The FAA said it has also proposed a $4,932 fine against Aikins for abandoning his pilot’s seat and operating an aircraft in a reckless manner. 

The FAA originally denied Red Bull’s request for an exemption because it could not show the stunt was not a safety risk.

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