FAA Enforcement or Violation Defense

 

NWA

                                                                                                                SAN DIEGO AVIATION LAWYER

When the Federal Aviation Administration believes there has been a violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR), it initiates enforcement action by advising the apparent violator of its investigation. Such advice usually is in the form of a letter briefly describing the circumstances, and inviting the respondent to “tell his side of the story”.

The invitation is a poorly disguised attempt to obtain information which will confirm one or more facts, the proof of which has not yet been established by the FAA.

With this in mind, a prudent respondent will decline the invitation, and have a knowledgeable Aviation Attorney respond to the letter.

FAA Enforcement cases are presented to an Administrative Law Judge for adjudication at evidentiary hearings (no jury). The FAA’s burden at those hearings is a simple “preponderance” of the evidence.

However, even when the facts favor the FAA, and negotiation has not produced results, a strong defense can result in a significant reduction in the severity of the sanction imposed.

Actions involving suspension or revocation of operating privileges or certificates should always be vigorously defended, and may be appealed to the Federal Courts.

Some of Our Results in FAA Enforcement Actions:

Medical Certificate Denied.

Airline changed from Boeing 737’s to Airbus equipment.  While training in simulator, Captain discovered he could not see certain warnings on glass panel, even though he had passed the FAA’s colorblind tests.  Pilot experimented with different colored plastic filters, discovered he could see the warnings with a rose colored filter.  FAA still would not re-issue his First Class Medical Certificate, and refused to conduct Special Medical Flight Test.  Airline issued a Letter of Termination due to no Medical.  I made arrangements with Airline to make Airbus Simulator available for an FAA-conducted Special Medical Flight Test; then made arrangements for the FAA’s Regional Flight Surgeon to conduct the Special Medical Flight Test in the Simulator with Captain wearing special rose-colored filters.

Test Passed.  First Class Medical Certificate issued with limitation “Must wear rose-colored glasses”.  Career preserved.

Fuel Starvation, Violation of FAR’s Alleged.

Helicopter’s First test flight after maintenance.  Mechanic advised Pilot the helicopter had been fueled up.  Engine failed at 200 feet due to Fuel Starvation. Tank was EMPTY. Pilot auto-rotated to ground.  Impach caused substantial damage. FAA charged Pilot with Violation – failing to check fuel before flight.  Proposed action was revocation of pilot certificate.  Settlement:  “no action” against pilot.

Turbine Overhaul – Lear Jet Air Taxi

FAA Inspector demanded engine overhauls at 1200 hours per Maintenance Manual.  Settlement:  FAA Headquarters rescinded demand and agreed to overhauls at 6,000 hours with Hot-Section Inspections at 3,600 hours.

Pilot’s DUI History

FAA refused to issue Medical Certificate to Airline Pilot who had two DUI’s from the past .  Settlement:  FAA agreed to issue First Class Medical Certificate.

Falsfication of Pilot Certificate

Learjet pilot used a computer to add a Cessna Citation Type Rating to his ATP Certificate.  Did not bother to take practical exam.  Settlement:  We were able to get the pilot a one-year suspension of his pilot certificate rather than jail time under 18 USC 1001 (Criminal Falsification).

Inadequate Entry in Aircraft Log

Aircraft Mechanic was accused of intentional falsification of aircraft logs.  FAA demanded revocation of his A&P Certificates.  Judgment:  At Hearing, found to be not-intentional, sanctions reduced to 60 day suspension.