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October 28, 2010

If You Want Help From The FAA Outside The United States, You Will Have To Pay More For It

If you take a written examination or a practical test for an airman or other certificate or rating with the FAA in the United States, you will pay the FAA a fee. However, if you ask for the same FAA services outside the United States, you are going to have to pay more for those services.

Advisory Circular 187-1D, Flight Standards Service Schedule of Charges Outside the United States includes a schedule of fees you will pay that are significantly higher than the fees in the United States. The schedule is updated on an annual basis to reflect the FAA's actual cost in providing the services.

I suppose the higher fees makes some sense since the FAA has significantly more infrastructure and support here in the United States than it does outside the United States. However, the question I have is: "Do you get the same quality of service, such as it is, outside the United States?" Probably.

Posted by Greg

Is A U.S. Senator Subject To FAA Enforcement Action For Landing On A Closed Runway?

According to an Article in the Tulsa World, the United States Senator from Oklahoma, James Inhofe, landed his Cessna 340 on a closed runway at the Port Isabel-Cameron County Airport in Texas. At the time, the closed runway was marked with large X's to protect a crew that was working on the runway and a corresponding Notam regarding the runway closure had been issued.

The Senator stated that he only saw the X's about 20 seconds before he landed, which, according to him, was too late to change course. However, he was able to land on a part of the runway that was away from the location where the work was being performed. When asked about the Notam, the Senator stated "I did not know it because it was not given to me." Later, when the Senator wanted to leave, he used the airport's taxiway to take off.

What is interesting about this incident is that, after apparently notifying the FAA soon after landing and then talking with the FAA several days later, the Senator "expressed assurance that the agency will not take any action against him." I find that hard to believe. Any other airman would be looking at an enforcement action alleging, at a minimum, violations of FARs 91.103 (requiring a pilot to become familiar with all available information concerning a flight), 91.139(c) (requiring compliance with a Notam) and 91.13(a) (careless and reckless) and seeking suspension of the airman's pilot certificate for a period of at least 30-90 days based upon FAA Order 2150.3B Appendix B (the FAA's Sanction Guidance Table).

Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to encourage an enforcement action against the Senator. After all, he has always been a stalwart supporter of general aviation. Also, as we all know, stories reported in the media never include all of the facts. Perhaps the Senator has some viable defenses. However, it seems to me that the Senator should be subject to the same regulatory enforcement as every other airman. No more, no less.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens. If the FAA does pursue an enforcement action, I hope the Senator filed his NASA/ASRP Form, and hires a good aviation attorney to defend him!

Posted by Greg

October 19, 2010

An Aircraft Mechanic's Lien In Florida Requires Possession

According to a recent Third District Court of Appeals decision, Commercial Jet v. U.S. Bank, an aircraft mechanic in Florida must retain possession of an aircraft in order to assert a mechanic's lien against that aircraft. The underlying case arose when an aircraft maintenance facility provided maintenance services to an aircraft and then released the aircraft to the owner before receiving payment. As you might guess, when the bill was not paid, the maintenance facility filed a mechanic's lien against the aircraft under Florida Statutes Sections 713.58 and 329.51 and filed suit to foreclose upon its mechanic's lien.

Section 713.58 creates a lien in favor of a mechanic for work performed on personal property only as long as the mechanic entitled to the lien retains possession of the property. Once possession is lost, so is the lien. Section 329.51 applies to a lien under Section 713.58 specifically for work performed on an aircraft. Under that statute, an aircraft mechanic must record a verified lien notice with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where the aircraft was located at the time the labor, services, fuel, or material was last furnished within 90 days after the time the labor, services, fuel, or material was last furnished.

In the case, the maintenance facility argued that Section 329.51 amended Section 713.58 to allow "perfection" of a lien against an aircraft simply by filing the verified lien notice in lieu of maintaining possession of the aircraft. However, the Court disagreed, holding that Section 329.51 is merely a notice statute and does not create any new lien rights. According to the Court, "Section 329.51 details how, once a fuel or service provider acquires a lien on an aircraft pursuant to section 329.41 or 731.58, he may perfect his lien and establish priority of enforcement as it relates to third parties." The Court then determined that the maintenance facility never acquired a valid lien under Section 713.58 because it lost possession of the aircraft. As a result, the Court concluded that Section 329.51 did not apply.

Florida aircraft maintenance providers need to know that possession is the law if they want to assert a mechanic's lien against an aircraft. In Florida, aircraft maintenance truly is "cash and carry."

Posted by Greg

October 15, 2010

Need Help With Your Aircraft Re-Registration And Renewal?

The FAA has started sending out its notice of "Expiration of Aircraft Registration" forms to aircraft owners. In addition to my article on the subject, Understanding The FAA's New Aircraft Re-Registration And Renewal Requirements, both AOPA and EAA provide additional information and guidance for completing the re-registration/renewal process. EAA has created a Guide To The New FAA Re-Registration Form. AOPA has a page reporting an October 12, 2010 clarification by the FAA regarding the re-registration/renewal process.

According to the clarification, once an aircraft's registration has been renewed, the new certificate will expire three years from the month in which re-registration was accomplished. For example, aircraft owners whose aircraft were originally registered within the month of March in a previous year are currently receiving the re-registration forms from the FAA. Their aircraft registration certificates will expire on March 31, 2011 unless renewed. If one of these aircraft owners renews in December, for instance, the expiration date for their aircraft's new three-year registration will be December 31, 2013.

Remember, like it or not, re-registration/renewal is mandatory. If you fail to renew your aircraft's registration by the specified deadline, you will not be able to legally operate your aircraft after that deadline. When you receive your re-registration form, complete the renewal process promptly to ensure that you receive your new registration before the expiration of your current registration. If you need help with or have questions about the re-registration/renewal process, please contact the Reigel Law Firm at (952) 238-1060.

Posted by Greg

October 12, 2010

FAA Publishes Air Ambulance/Helicopter Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking

The FAA today published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("NRPM") addressing air ambulance and commercial helicopter operations, Part 91 helicopter operations, and load manifest requirements for all Part 135 aircraft. The NPRM is a response to an increased number of air ambulance and other helicopter accidents, and multiple National Transportation Safety Board recommendations the Board has issued following its investigations into those accidents. According to the NPRM, "[t]he changes are intended to provide certificate holders and pilots with additional tools and procedures that will aid in preventing accidents.

For all operations under Part 135 (helicopter and airplane), the FAA is proposing to:
  • Permit operators to transmit a copy of load manifest documentation to their base of operations, in lieu of preparing a duplicate copy; and

  • Specify requirements for retaining a copy of the load manifest in the event that the documentation is destroyed in an aircraft accident.

For Part 91 helicopter operations, the FAA is proposing to:
  • Revise Part 91 Visual Flight Rules (VFR) weather minimums.

For all commercial helicopter operations (not including air ambulance), the FAA is proposing to:
  • Revise the commercial helicopter instrument flight rules (IFR) alternate airport weather minimums;

  • Require helicopter pilots to demonstrate competency in recovery from inadvertent instrument meteorological conditions;

  • Require all commercial helicopters to be equipped with radio altimeters; and

  • Change definition of "extended over-water operation," and require additional equipment for these operations.

And for helicopter air ambulance operations, the FAA is proposing:
  • Require air ambulance flights with medical personnel on board to be conducted under Part 135, including flight crew time limitation and rest requirements;

  • Require certificate holders with 10 or more helicopter air ambulances to establish operations control centers;

  • Require helicopter air ambulance certificate holders to implement pre- flight risk-analysis programs;

  • Require safety briefings for medical personnel on helicopter air ambulances. Amend helicopter air ambulance operational requirements to include VFR weather minimums, IFR operations at airports/heliports without weather reporting, procedures for VFR approaches, and VFR flight planning;

  • Require pilots in command to hold an instrument rating; and

  • Require equipage with Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems (HTAWS), and possibly light-weight aircraft recording systems (LARS).

Interestingly, the FAA estimates the cost of complying with the NPRM at $136,000,000 for Air Ambulance and $89,000,000 for commercial operations. On the benefit side, the FAA estimates $62,000,000 to $1,500,000,000 for Air Ambulance and $21,000,000 to $480,000,000 for commercial operations.

Comments to the NPRM are due on or before January 10, 2011. If you would like more information regarding the NPRM, you may contact the following: For technical questions concerning the NPRM contact Edwin Miller, Flight Standards Service, Part 135 Air Carrier Operations Branch, AFS-250, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 267-8166; facsimile (202) 267-5229; e-mail edwin.miller@faa.gov. For legal questions concerning the NPRM contact Dean Griffith, Office of the Chief Counsel, AGC-220, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 267-3073; facsimile (202) 267-7971; e-mail dean.griffith@faa.gov.

Posted by Greg

October 11, 2010

FAA Revises Its Dosing Interval Standard

According to the latest edition of the Federal Air Surgeon's Medical Bulletin, the FAA has revised the dosing interval standard (the time between taking medicine with known side effects until going flying) to reflect a longer waiting time. The standard has been increased from two to five dosing intervals. For example, if the instructions on the medication bottle say to take every six hours, then an airman must wait until at least 30 hours after the last dose before he or she may fly. The FAA also advises that an airman should "[n]ever fly after taking a new medication for the first time until at least five maximal dosing intervals have passed and no side effects are noted."

It is important to note that this dosing interval standard only applies to certain disqualifying medications such as antihistamines (e.g. Benadryl or Zyrtec). If an airman is taking other disqualifying medications (e.g. antiepileptics, antispasmodics, and certain alpha blockers and antihypertensives) he or she will need to obtain FAA approval for return to flight after discontinuing the medication. More information on this topic is also available in the Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners

Posted by Greg

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