Facts support Revocation not Compliance
Carrier alleged to have committed repeated, intentional, flagrant violations
Safety Concerns not require Emergency Action?
For over four years, the FAA has shifted its safety emphasis from punishment/enforcement to compliance/collaboration. As a result of this more proactive approach, safety risks have been reduced. But the field, in particular, has expressed concerns about the new regimen as really being a “get out of jail free” card. The disbelievers are still of the opinion that ENFORCEMENT was a real deterrent, while the new philosophy is too lax.
Civil penalties are expensive as measured in the check written and also in terms of the bad publicity deterring passengers from choosing the sanctioned carrier. There is a more serious action which the FAA can take—REVOCATION.
In a show that there are teeth to its current philosophy. It is PROPOSING to revoke the Part 135 Operating Certificate of Executive Air Express of Nashville, Tenn. Repeated failures of this on-demand charter operator made a civil penalty inappropriate and also removed it from some form of compliance remediation.
Here is a copy of the FAA Press Release:
While this appears to be the right response, there seem to be flaws to the proposal:
- the initial period of violation– 31, 2016, and Sept. 29, 2017 was over two years ago—that’s a substantial period of time during which the FAA knew about an unsafe operation;
- those flights involved a total of 28 Learjet 35A flights with paying passengers. That specific airplane had not been inspected by the FAA and was not lists on the company’s FAA-issued Operations Specification. That is a serious dereliction of a basic safety function;
- in the middle of this period of violation, Executive must have recognized that the plane needed to be submitted for review as a predicate for the Lear to be listed on its Ops Specs; so on 24, 2016, the company requested that the FAA add the aircraft to its Ops Specs. In total derogation of its statutory and regulatory requirements, Executive flew the plane an additional 15 flights;
- On May 3, 2017, the FAA denied Executive’s request to add the Learjet to its Ops Specs, citing 49 discrepancies the company needed to address before the FAA could resume its inspection of the aircraft. While six months to complete an inspection is very slow, without that approval, Executive’s flights can only be characterized as INTENTIONAL and in light of the 49 discrepancies, a very serious safety violation.
- Executive’s inability to comply with basic FAR safety requirements is demonstrated by Executive failed to conduct the required 25 hours of proving tests before using the Learjet in for-hire operations.
- Finally Executive, well after it had been “schooled” about the safety need for placing new aircraft on Ops Specs, operated two for-hire flights on May 2, 2018, using a Swearingen SA226T that was not listed in its Ops Specs.
It is clear by the repeated, clearly intentional actions by Executive that compliance was not an appropriate response. What is not self-evident, is why the FAA required years to propose to remove a carrier with a complete disregard for basic FAA safety regulations, as alleged by the FAA. In such circumstances, revocation looks as though it should have been sought earlier, if not an application for EMERGENCY REVOCATION.
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