Is FAA still enforcing Aviation Safety?

FAA enforcement, PRINDT, jem
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In the time of compliance, one revocation and one six figure civil penalty

Actions speak louder than words- these cases and COMPLIANCE PHILOSOPHY

What is the line of demarcation?


A five year old policy was defined in several policy statements, but as the 1600s aphorism by Michel de Montaigne states “action speaks louder than words”. The two enforcement cases issued recently by the FAA is an action which is hard to rectify with the FAA’s words. Questions, like “was this intentional” vs. a “simple mistake”; “can it be corrected by training”; “were these reckless deviations”, cannot be answered from the FAA’s statement of facts.

A little history will help place these questions into context:

For decades, the FAA has reinforced aviation safety by imposing civil penalties. That enforcement regime involved the exercise of considerable judgment in deciding the size of the dollar sanction; this discretion was criticized by certificate holders, neutral observers and policy experts; so Administrator Engen required that a matrix with descriptions of the severity of the violation on one axis and the amount to be fined on the other. The thought was that a mechanical exercise of this matrix would be more equitable. However, the adjectives used in the matrix allowed considerable choice in imposing sanctions.

Several years ago, Administrator Huerta and Associate Administrator Gilligan adopted a new method to reduce risk. It began with implementing Safety Management Systems in which certificate holders voluntarily shared data with the FAA. From that base, cooperation and collaboration drove this partnership to higher standards designed for each individual carrier or repair station.

The relationship created by the global safety standard SMS transitioned the FAA from enforcement to compliance. Penalties were exchanged with joint exercises to correct errors disclosed by the certificate holder. It was reasoned that the process would be damaged if the exchange of that critical safety data became the subject for an enforcement case. Thus, a sea change was initiated in which compliance became the critical thrust, as described below:

New FAA Compliance Policy A Sea Change From Enforcement—10 Forcing Elements


sea change

The FAA provides a number of resources which might collectively allow one to identify the facts or actions which differentiate between “compliance” and “civil penalty or civil penalty”. However, as transparent as they appear, the records are hardly current and thus poor measures of the FAA’s recent policy. For example, QUARTERLY ENFORCEMENT REPORT 7/1/19 – 9/30/19 involves cases initiated as far back as 2015.


Legal Enforcement Actions

Enforcement Reports

enforcement cases_










Cases by Subject


This has been a reoccurring issue and here is an example of a prior similar post:

Compliance Policy would benefit from more transparency in Enforcement Cases

compliance policy

Press Release – FAA Revokes Repair Station Certificate of Puerto Rico Industrial Non Destructive Testing


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an emergency order revoking the repair station certificate of Puerto Rico Industrial Non Destructive Testing (PRINDT) of Carolina, Puerto Rico.

PRINDT falsified maintenance records, used unqualified personnel, and performed inspections on items it wasn’t authorized to work on, the FAA alleges.

Between March 4, 2019 and Sept. 16, 2019, PRINDT knowingly falsified maintenance records by stating it performed six Lycoming airplane engine inspections in accordance with the engine manufacturer’s instructions, the FAA alleges. The records were false because PRINDT used personnel who had not received required recurrent training or certification, and because the company had not published written materials detailing the required maintenance procedures, the FAA alleges. Additionally, PRINDT failed to perform self-evaluations to ensure the components it inspected were on its capability list, which is a list of parts that a company is authorized to service.

Furthermore, PRINDT personnel performed maintenance inspections on Hartzell propellers and associated components on at least 20 separate occasions between Oct. 29, 2018 and Dec. 13, 2018. The FAA alleges the propellers and components were not on its capability list. PRINDT also performed the work at a location other than its facility without properly notifying the FAA.

PRINDT surrendered its certificate and has appealed the FAA’s emergency revocation order.


Press Release – FAA Proposes $220,000 Civil Penalty Against Jem Air Holdings, LLC

JEM page

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $220,000 civil penalty against Jem Air Holdings, LLC, of Raleigh, N.C., for allegedly using unqualified pilots to conduct charter flights.

The FAA alleges Jem used three unqualified pilots to fly as second-in-command on 18 flights between April 25, 2019, and May 19, 2019. The agency alleges these pilots had not undergone required annual flight-competency checks and written or oral knowledge tests.

The FAA alleges that each flight operated by Jem Air with unqualified crewmembers was careless or reckless so as to endanger lives or property.

Jem Air has indicated it wants to meet with the FAA to discuss the case.

It would be immensely helpful if the FAA could explain, perhaps in hypothetical cases, why it decided to revoke one certificate, impose a six figure civil penalty or design a compliance program.

enforcement v. compliance




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