Falsified 8130 leads to Criminal Conviction
Airworthiness Standards are subject to interpretations; FAA wins the debate
Preventative Action: refresh your knowledge
The DOT Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a press release about a Mr. David Alexander Barcena pleading guilty to falsely certifying various aircraft parts as airworthy and eligible for installation on commercial aircraft. His plea is an admission that he intentionally completed an 8130 form without the required authority. Simple case in a subject area filled with landmines.
The defendant in this case spent many, many hours with a criminal defense lawyer, hopefully one with some knowledge of aviation.
The attorney charged his client for every minute of time spent reviewing the documents, researching the FARs, and reviewing the plethora of FAA written guidance on Suspected Unapproved Parts (SUPs) to get ready for the defense.
Our SUP suspect likely devoted all of his free time to check his records, search for the underlying papers and recall all that he did before signing off.
The two probably looked for an expert who could testify in support of the accused’s interpretation of the standards and the language to be included in the 8130.
All that done, they met with the Assistant US Attorney, the OIG investigator and the lead investigator from the Miramar FSDO (it should be noted that, in a rare positive statement by the DOT’s oversight office, the FAA’s support was substantial). After some likely long negotiations, a plea was agreed to—monetary penalties, time in jail (?), probation, acceptance of a period during which no work in a Part 145, no DAR/DER request, etc.
Suppose that someone with the necessary authority completes the required authority to complete an airworthiness tag, but writes in the boxes information thought to be required and relevant. If the FAA or OIG inspector disagrees with your well-considered judgement, you may have to go through the above-described, expensive gauntlet.
Preventative actions are one of aviation’s strongest disciplines. Taking some time— to update your knowledge of what is required for an airworthiness determination– follows this proactive approach and can reduce the risk of major expenses defending your assessment. Experts, who are knowledgeable about the FAA’s current interpretations, can refine your information to assure that you do not get entangled in an SUP investigation.
Eric J. Soskin, Inspector General
On August 17, 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, David Alexander Barcena pleaded guilty to falsely certifying various aircraft parts as airworthy and eligible for installation on commercial aircraft. On February 16, Barcena was indicted by a Federal grand jury. The indictment alleged that between December 2016 and May 2017, Barcena certified that commercial aircraft parts—including anti-icing valves, a hydraulic reservoir assembly, and a landing gear actuator—were ready for service using falsified FAA airworthiness approval tags.
Barcena allegedly sourced the tags from a defunct FAA-approved repair facility where they had been employed as the chief inspector.
DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation with substantial assistance from the FAA Flight Standards Division Office, Miramar, Florida.
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