DAR nailed for phony 8130-3’s
INTENT is usually inferred
BAD Paperwork could be used as inferring INTENT
This was a no-brainer. The defendant, Edward Carl Fernandez, plead guilty for, among other things,
“On or about February 19, 2013, Fernandez received an email requesting an airworthiness approval tag for a commercial hydraulic adapter fitting. The email consisted of digital photographs, traceability documents allegedly pertaining to the aircraft part, and a pre-filled form awaiting his signature. Approximately 8 minutes later, Fernandez emailed a signed copy of the form attesting to the airworthiness of the part, although he had not done the required physical inspection.”
A Designated Airworthiness Representative is a private individual who is qualified to and selected to act for the Administrator. Specifically, a designee inspects parts to ensure that each conforms to the approved engineering data, meets type design and is in a condition for safe operation. Having performed these tasks faithfully, the DAR may issue a Form 8130-3.
[example of aircraft parts; not purport to be the parts at issue.]
Mr. Fernandez, admittedly, could not meet these standards in 8 minutes and without the parts. He received $75 for each signature.
Thanks to the FAA and the US Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, Mr. Fernandez was sentenced by a US District Court Judge, UDSC SDFL, to 6 months’ home confinement, 3 years’ probation, 100 hours of community service, a $5,000 fine, and forfeiture of $38,850.
In order to violate most criminal statutes, you must be found to have intended to perform the illegal act. It was easy to infer Mr. Fernandez intended to falsely represent the airworthiness condition of numerous commercial aircraft parts. In many other cases, the investigator and the prosecutor must “infer” the illicit intent. Extremely sloppy and/or grossly inaccurate paperwork may provide a basis to prove that a defendant intended to do wrong. Here are some examples of similar cases:
The murky are of suspected unapproved parts is very susceptible to inferring criminal intent from bad paperwork. There is training available to minimize this risk.
Former NTSB Member and lifelong mechanic, John Goglia, has published a very erudite article on the paperwork exposure-Torqued: Your Certificate May Be On the Line for What You Don’t Record. Here is an excerpt from his advice:
… the Board is saying that mechanics can lose their licenses if they fail to enter work they did, even if there was no intent to falsify. Say, for example, you’re troubleshooting a flight control that is stiff or binding. You check the flight controls but can’t feel anything, so you start disconnecting them one at a time. On the left side, you disconnect them and put them back together, finding no problem. You turn to the right side and you find a bad bearing. In the signoff, you write that you replaced the bearing on the right control rod. You do not mention disassembling the left side in your troubleshooting. I don’t know a mechanic who hasn’t signed off a maintenance action like this. I know I have. I certainly had no intent to falsify by my omission.
And, yes, accurate maintenance records are critical. And the best policy would be to write up all the maintenance actions. But should this be grounds for a charge of falsification of records—a charge that would result in an emergency revocation—without giving you, the mechanic, a chance to prove that the omissions were not done with the intent to falsify?
Mr. Fernandez’s case was relatively easy to prove, once the investigators found his abuse of his DAR. In your exercise of your DAR, DER, ODA, DMIR, etc. you MUST be almost as careful in completing your paperwork as you did in assessing the airworthiness of the part, system, process, etc.
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