Following the seizure of a PA-28 at Newcastle last month, Customs are warning owners and syndicate members about the possibility of their aircraft being used to smuggle drugs or tobacco.

The Cherokee concerned was seized after arriving from Belgium following the discovery of 60 kilos of tobacco, 600 cigarettes and 350 cigars valued at £6000.

To defray running costs, the owners had regularly hired out their aircraft to a small number of pilots. In this case they were totally unaware that it had been used in a smuggling attempt.

The Cherokee was eventually restored free of Customs penalties, but the owners still had to pay substantial charges to the airfield to cover the time the aircraft was detained.

Customs now warns owners to ensure that they know who is using their aeroplane – and what for.

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