FAA Compliance Policy two confusing cases; what’s up?

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Two Cases of FAA Compliance Policy

Explanations Needed

About a year ago, FAA Administrator Huerta and Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Gilligan established a new policy course for meeting the highest levels of safety from certificated entities. Instead of using sanctions, suspensions and revocations as a means of enforcing the FARs, the senior safety officers indicated, that based on the benefits created by the cooperative/preventative direction of SMS, the goal would be compliance and collaboration.

The documents supporting this new approach were FAA Order 8300.323, FAA Order 8000.373: Federal Aviation Administration Compliance Philosophy, and related changes to FAA Order 2150.3B. Historically the FAA field staff found great comfort with their “traffic cop ticket writing role” and there was reason to believe that the new directive would not be well received by the field due to their lack of support for the lack of “punishment” and their new role of working with the regulated. A very instrumental change was made organizationally to assure that the transition was implemented consistent with the new approach.

The true effectiveness of the implementation is best assessed by the record of actions:

  • FAA’s proposed $892,000 sanction against Air Methods will be a Mark on the Compliance Policy Trend Graph

Two recent FAA Press Releases portended to provide more definition of the FAA’s progress towards its compliance goal.

I. Press Release – FAA Proposes $218,700 Civil Penalty Against Resorts World Companies for Allegedly Conducting Unauthorized Air Carrier Operations

FAA Compliance

The FAA alleges that Resorts World Aviation provided Resorts World Bimini casino players and other guests with nine for-hire flights between July 10 and July 19, 2015. The flights were between the Miami area and Bimini in the Bahamas.

The companies operated the flights when they did not hold the required FAA certificate to carry passengers for hire or the economic authorization from the DOT to operate as an air carrier, the FAA alleges. Additionally, the pilots flying the planes had not undergone required training and proficiency checks to conduct the operations involved, the agency alleges. The FAA alleges that the companies advertised to perform the operations despite not having FAA authorization for the operations.

Even under the new philosophy, these facts would seem to merit the heavy punitive tact and/or a cease and desist order:

FAA Order 8900.323

The FAA views those intentional or reckless deviations from regulatory standards, as defined in the Agency’s safety oversight guidance, or deviations from regulatory standards that otherwise present an unacceptable risk to safety, as posing the highest risk to safe operation of the NAS, and thus requiring strong enforcement. Matters involving competence or qualification of certificate, license, or permit holders will be addressed with appropriate remedial measures, which might include retraining or enforcement.

Resorts World operated 9 flights without a Part 129 approval; its pilots lacked the training/checks; the carrier did hold foreign air carrier permit from the DoT. Those violations would appear to fall under the above quoted language. They would seem to merit ENFORCEMENT.

A proposed sanction of $218,700 seems extraordinarily light. Perhaps there are mitigating circumstances, but the press release does not recite them. It does note that the company intends to meet with the FAA. Most notably, the Press Release does not mention that the illegal airline has ceased operations.

This sort of decision is likely to cause concern among the FAA field and confusion among certificate holders.

II. FAA Issues an Order suspending Certificate of Atlanta Technical College of Atlanta, GA ATC’s Air Agency Certificate is suspended pending compliance with the order.FAA Compliance

The below is a verbatim quote of an FAA Press Release emailed to the public. The document was removed from the FAA website until 11:48am 12/08.

A revocation of certificate seems justified under the facts averred. The statement indicates that the Technical College surrendered its certificate.

THE ABSENCE OF ANY EXPLANATION IS MYSTIFYING, to say the least. Again, the FAA Field inspectors and the holders of certificates must be confused by the significance of the revocation of a certificate and then the disappearance of the Press Release.

Press Release

Date: December 8, 2016

Contact: Kathleen Bergen

Phone: 404-305-5100

FAA Issues an Order suspending Certificate of Atlanta Technical Collegeof Atlanta, GA ATC’s Air Agency Certificate is suspended pending compliance with the order.

ATLANTA – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an order suspending the certificate of Atlanta Technical College (ATC) of Atlanta, Ga. ATC’s Air Agency Certificate is suspended pending compliance with the order.

The FAA alleges that ATC failed to maintain approved grade, attendance, and make-up reports for students in numerous courses in its Aviation Maintenance Technology (AVMT) program.

Student grade records were either not maintained or incomplete and were not signed by instructors. Several students who had not made up absences were nevertheless allowed to move on to the next block of instruction, the FAA alleges.

ATC has not enrolled any students or conducted any classes in the AVMT program since May 2014, and the FAA rescinded its approved curriculum in June 2014.  However, ATC has continued to administer exit examinations and issued certificates of completion to its former students when it knew it was not authorized to do so, the FAA alleges.

Additionally, ATC did not provide the FAA with requested copies of each certificate of completion and a detailed analysis of how students received certificates in the absence of an FAA-approved curriculum, the agency alleges.

ATC surrendered its certificate.

A statement from ATS:

Atlanta college aims to resolve issues in aviation program

The Associated Press
Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016  Atlanta News


Officials at Atlanta Technical College say they’re working to resolve issues found in an inspection by the Federal Aviation Administration, which recently ordered an emergency suspension of the school’s aviation maintenance program.

Atlanta Technical said in a statement this week that the college is on track to become fully compliant with FAA requirements “and anticipates the restoration of its Air Agency Certificate.”

In a Nov. 29 letter to the school, the FAA said it found that instructors at the college failed to maintain proper reports involving students, grades and attendance.

The school says it will again accept students into its aviation maintenance program once the FAA restores its aviation maintenance certificate.

In order for a new policy to be understood by people both internally and externally, the FAA would be wise to help explain the why and how the new compliance policy was applied in these two cases.


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