Home Taxi company Complaint filed over ‘illegal’ air taxi before crash killed fugitives

Complaint filed over ‘illegal’ air taxi before crash killed fugitives

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Pilot who died with BC fugitives in accident in Ontario advertised his services on Facebook Marketplace

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Four months before pilot Abhinav Handa, his friend and two fugitives died in a plane crash, another British Columbia pilot reported Handa to Transport Canada, alleging he was operating an unlicensed air taxi service , learned Postmedia.

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Handa was offering “scenic tours” and charter services on Facebook Marketplace using the Piper plane that crashed near Sioux Lookout, Ont., on April 29. Handa, accused hitman Gene Lahrkamp, ​​wanted British Columbia mobster Duncan Bailey and Hankun Hong, also a pilot, dead.

British Columbia flight instructor Azam Azami contacted Transport Canada in December after seeing Handa’s online ad offering air taxi service and sightseeing flights.

Azami, who has held a pilot’s license since 2012, told Postmedia he checked the aircraft’s registration and found it was not listed as a commercial aircraft.

He pretended to be a customer interested in booking a flight and had an online conversation with Handa, who admitted to Azami that he was not a flight instructor, although he claimed online that he was.

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Handa said the “new company” he worked for, called “A&T Flights”, used “commercial pilots” and was owned by others.

“I don’t own anything,” Handa told Azami.

Gene Lahrkamp was among four people killed when their Piper plane crashed in a remote area near Sioux Lookout, Ont., on April 29.
Gene Lahrkamp was among four people killed when their Piper plane crashed in a remote area near Sioux Lookout, Ont., on April 29. Picture by handout

In fact, A&T wasn’t registered with the BC government until March 2022. In company records, Handa and Tessa Melnychuk are listed as the sole directors of the company. Melnychuk is also the owner of the Piper aircraft, according to the Civil Aircraft Registry of Canada.

She and Handa lived together at an address in Steveston, records show. She did not respond to numerous messages left by Postmedia.

Handa, 26, told Azami that the Piper left Boundary Bay airport and could be chartered to any Canadian destination for around $2,000 a day or $350 an hour for shorter trips. .

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Azami then confessed to her that he was also a pilot and suggested that Handa did not have the proper licenses to fly charters and tours. Azami also told the young pilot that he would report him to Transport Canada, which led to a rude exchange between the two. Azami provided the online conversation to Transport Canada on December 6 and to Postmedia this week.

Azami also provided the email he sent to a Transport Canada investigator on December 6, 2021 regarding Handa’s charter service.

“Attached to this email are multiple photos of another publicly advertised illegal scenic flight and air taxi/charter services on Facebook Marketplace,” Azami told the investigator. “If this person is operating illegally, they are putting themselves and the public at risk.”

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Duncan Bailey
Duncan Bailey PNG

On Friday, Azami said he assumed Transport Canada had looked into the matter, although he never heard back.

Transport Canada spokesperson Sau Sau Liu confirmed in an email Friday that the agency “was made aware in December 2021 that a private pilot was offering air taxi services and immediately began looking into the matter. Details of our ongoing investigation cannot be made public as they involve third party information.

Azami said he decided to report Handa because he did not appear to be following Transport Canada’s “rules and regulations which are established to ensure public safety”.

He said commercial charter companies had a program in which all passenger names were sent to a database to prevent fugitives and other criminals from escaping on chartered planes.

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Several investigations are underway into the accident and the people on board. The Transportation Safety Board is investigating what led to the plane crashing. The Ontario Provincial Police are investigating how the fugitives ended up on the ill-fated flight. British Columbia’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit was already on the hunt for Lahrkamp, ​​who was wanted in Thailand for the February 5 murder of former Vancouver mobster Jimi Sandhu, of the gang United Nations. Bailey of the Independent Soldiers gang fled after being released on bail for attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Hong, the fourth victim, was a Facebook friend of Handa and an avid young pilot.

Azami said he often “conveyed” planes for new owners, meaning he picked them up and flew them to their new home base. He said he flew “quite a bit” over the region of Ontario where the accident occurred.

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“My experience there is that the weather gets really rough because of the lakes. And he had to go through some kind of bad weather that he wasn’t used to,” Azami said.

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  1. The home of accused hitman Gene Lahrkamp at 2000 Lookout St. in Trail was raided by police on February 15.  We don't know where he is.

    On the trail of suspects: a Canadian arrested for murder in a gang in Thailand, another still at large

  2. The home of accused hitman Gene Lahrkamp, ​​at 2000 Lookout St. in Trail.

    Accused BC hitman had financial difficulties: uncle

  3. A national program had offered a $100,000 reward for the capture of B.C. man Gene Karl Lahrkamp, ​​accused of killing former Vancouver mobster Jimi Sandhu in Thailand in February.

    BC fugitive charged with murder in Thailand dies in plane crash with Kamloops mobster


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