IOWA CITY (AP) — An Iowa flight school tipped off federal regulators that a man training to become a pilot had falsely inflated his experience to get a license allowing him to fly privately using instruments, court records show.
Fahad Nabeel Hussein Al-Daous, 33, of Waterloo, Iowa, pleaded guilty Friday during a hearing in federal court in Des Moines to one count of making a false statement to the Federal Aviation Administration. Prosecutors agreed to drop a second count under a plea agreement, which revealed that information given to the FAA by Waterloo-based Livingston Aviation prompted the investigation.
Hussein Al-Daous admitted he falsely listed more than 130 hours of flying he did not actually complete in a logbook the FAA requires pilots to keep of their hours, under a scheme that would allow him to obtain a commercial pilot's license without paying for nearly as many flights required.
He faces a maximum of five years in prison when he is sentenced in August but is likely to receive less time behind bars under federal sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors agreed to recommend that he be credited for cooperating and pleading guilty.
The aspiring pilot went through flight training at Livingston Aviation during 2010 and 2011. On May 21, 2011, prosecutors said, he traveled to an airport in Ottumwa, Iowa, to apply for an instrument-rated license so he could fly in conditions when instruments are required, such as cloudy or bad weather.
Hussein Al-Daous listed on the application that he had completed the requirement of more than 50 hours of cross-country flight time as a pilot in command through Livingston Aviation. But he failed a test flight with an FAA examiner and was denied a license. Hussein Al-Daous returned to the airport six days later, again filled out an application, and was issued a license after passing the test flight.
Court records do not detail how many hours Hussein Al-Daous truly had flown, but say he did not meet the minimum requirement for the instrument-rated license.
He applied for Livingston Aviation's commercial pilot training program in September, and that's when the fraud was uncovered. The flight school compared his FAA logbook with its own billing records, which showed many of the flights he claimed he had made had not been paid for and had not happened.
Hussein Al-Daous admitted falsifying his logbook and submitting inflated numbers to FAA investigators, even providing a chart showing which flights had been falsified, during a meeting in Des Moines. He provided similar information during an interview with special agents from the FBI and the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General at his home in December, court records show.
Even after he obtained his instrument license, he continued to falsely list flights and “intended to use this falsely inflated flight data to obtain a commercial pilot license,” according to the plea agreement. In all, his logbook shows 90 hours of flight and 41 hours of cross-country flight hours that he did not complete.
Hussein Al-Daous has been released pending sentencing. Since his indictment in February, he has been free on the conditions that he not leave Iowa and that he surrender his Saudi Arabian passport. Prosecutors said he has dual citizenship in the United States and Saudi Arabia. He required an Arabic interpreter during court proceedings.
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