Qld pilot guilty of illegally flying MPs

A north Queensland pilot has been found guilty on charges relating to illegally operating a charter service used by state and federal members of parliament.

Josh Hoch, 36, operated the Flying Fitters Pty Ltd and Hoch Air Pty Ltd, transporting politicians from Katter's Australian Party around their electorates over a five-year period.

He received state and federal government money via the parliamentarian members' general travel allowances during his operations.

Hoch also transported documents for the Electoral Commission of Queensland in the 2012 state election around the former electorate of Dalrymple.

He was found guilty in the Townsville District Court on 13 of 14 charges on Friday, including:

* Fraud to the value of $30,000 or more;

* General dishonesty;

* Two counts of fraud;

* Four counts of flying aircraft without license;

* Five counts of offences in relation to aircraft.

The 11-person jury acquitted Hoch on one charge of flying aircraft without license, with one juror dismissed during deliberations due to contracting COVID-19.

KAP federal MP Bob Katter, and the party's state MPs Robbie Katter and Shane Knuth all gave evidence via video-link last week.

All used Hoch's flight charter service through their travel allowance, but were unaware of its lack of authenticity.

It was not alleged any of the KAP politicians engaged in any wrongdoing.

Hoch pleaded not guilty to all 14 charges in the week-long trial.

In phone-tapped evidence obtained by police, the court heard Hoch allegedly knew he was flying politicians without an Air Operator's Certificate, against the requirements of the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority.

Hoch had a private pilot licence but was not certified with an AOC when he engaged in charter and cost-sharing services with the KAP politicians.

He will be sentenced on Monday in the Townsville District Court.