Gregory J. Reigel
Serving clients throughout the U.S.
Tel (214) 780-1482
Email: info@aerolegalservices.com

 
[Top Background]
Aviation Law Discussions Subscribe XML

A site devoted to aviation law, safety and security.

November 17, 2017

How Should An Employer Handle Employee Use Of A Private Aircraft?

What happens when one of your employees, who also happens to be a pilot, comes to you and says that he or she wants to fly an aircraft that is not owned or leased by you, the employer, for the purposes of your business? And, by the way, the employee also says he or she would like to be reimbursed for use of the aircraft.

It certainly can be beneficial to have an employee yo use private aviation rather than driving or flying with the airlines. But how should you, the employer, deal with the employee's request? Well, in light of your potential liability exposure for these types of operations by your employee, you need to carefully evaluate whether you want to agree to your employee's request.

If this is the type of request you are willing to grant, you should establish a policy for how these situations will be handled. This means you will need to evaluate and consider a variety of issues and factors that may be addressed in your policy.

For a discussion of the issues you may want to consider and include in your policy, please read my latest article on the topic: Drafting A Policy For Employee Use Of Private Aircraft.

Posted by Greg

November 10, 2017

What Does The Word "Current" Mean In The Context Of Aircraft Maintenance?

Unfortunately, the word "current" does not necessarily mean the same thing in each of the regulations in which it is used. Which makes some sense, since different regulations address different issues and situations. So, let’s take a look at a few maintenance regulations to see what the FAA means when it references "current" in each.

14 C.F.R. § 43.13(a)

In the context of Section 43.13(a), "current" means what the dictionary says it does, i.e., "belonging to the present time." So, current refers to the latest version of the Manufacturer's Maintenance Manual or Instructions for Continued Airworthiness in effect at the point in time of use. It does not necessarily mean "the latest" or "the most current version" of a Manufacturer's Maintenance Manual or Instructions for Continued Airworthiness ("ICA") for the aircraft or its components.

14 C.F.R. § 91.409(f)(3)

Section 91.409(f)(3) provides an aircraft owner or operator with the option of selecting "a current inspection program recommended by the manufacturer" for the aircraft. If an inspection program is selected that is "current" at that moment in time, then the selected program would be acceptable to the FAA for future inspections of the aircraft unless some part of the selected program was later deemed unacceptable because of changes required by an Airworthiness Directive ("AD") or some other FAA rule.

It is also important to distinguish between "selection of an inspection program" for current and future inspections of an aircraft, and "maintenance to be performed on the aircraft using a maintenance manual." If a program is selected (making it mandatory for subsequent inspections) and the manufacturer later revises the program, the originally selected program would no longer be the manufacturer's "current" inspection program as of that later date, but it would still be an acceptable inspection program to use because it was current at the time the aircraft owner or operator selected it for use with the aircraft.

As a result, a manufacturer may issue changes to its recommended maintenance and inspection programs, but those changes do not unilaterally have future effect on aircraft owners and operators. However, an aircraft owner or operator could voluntarily choose to adopt those changes. Or the aircraft owner or operator could simply exercise Section 43.13(a)’s option of using "other methods, techniques, and practices acceptable to the Administrator" rather than those of the manufacturer.

However, in the context of performing maintenance using a Manufacturer’s Maintenance Manual, which is different than simply selecting an inspection program, an earlier version of a manual is no longer "current." But that doesn't mean that version of the manual may no longer be used. Depending on the circumstances, it may be acceptable for use by the aircraft owner or operator. In fact, a repair station may use a "prior" version of a Manufacturer's Maintenance Manual that was applicable to the model of aircraft that was being maintained, unless the FAA shows that the prior version has somehow become unacceptable.

14 C.F.R. § 145.109(d)

Section 145.109(d) requires a repair station to maintain certain specified documents and data including ICAs, ADs, maintenance manuals, overhaul manuals, and service bulletins. These items must also be "current" and accessible when the repair stations performs its work on an applicable aircraft. In the context of this regulation, a repair station would have to keep versions of the listed documents and data "up-to-date." This requirement exists even though Section 43.13(a) permits the use of a prior version of the document or data when performing maintenance, so long as the portion being used is still acceptable to the FAA.

As you can see, it is important to understand the context in which the FAA is using the word "current" in order to know what it means in each regulation. Understanding the differences will ensure that you are able to comply with the applicable regulations.

For more information on this topic, you can read my article Complying With A Manufacturer's "Current" Maintenance Instructions and also a recent Legal Interpretation issued by the FAA. And, of course, if you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.



Posted by Greg

November 03, 2017

What Do You Do When The FAA Denies Your Medical Application Because Your Physician Made The Wrong Diagnosis?

I was recently asked this question by an airman in this very difficult situation. When the airman was younger, the airman was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. More recently the airman was evaluated by a new doctor who told the airman that, in the doctor’s opinion, the previous diagnosis was wrong and the airman did not, in fact, have bipolar disorder.

Based upon the current doctor’s opinion, the airman applied for a medical certificate. However, despite submitting all of the airman’s medical records, including the earlier bipolar diagnosis as well as the current doctor’s opinion and evaluation, the FAA denied the airman’s application.

So, what are the airman’s options? Well, an airman may appeal the FAA's denial of a medical certificate by filing a petition with the NTSB requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). But an airman may only appeal the denial of an unrestricted medical certificate. Since the decision to grant a special issuance is at the discretion of the FAA, the NTSB will not entertain an appeal of the denial of a special issuance.

A hearing is then held at which both the airman and the FAA present evidence through documents and testimony from doctors, medical experts, the FAA and the airman. Oftentimes the airman's treating physician(s), who usually don't have aviation medicine training or experience, will testify that the symptoms and/or condition do not pose a threat to aviation safety and that the airman should be able to fly safely. However, when this type of opinion is presented at the hearing in contradiction to the FAA's expert witnesses, the Board will usually give greater weight to the FAA's expert witnesses based upon the Board’s perception that they have "superior" qualifications in aviation medical standards.

Also, depending upon the condition, an actual diagnosis of a disqualifying medical condition may not be required for the FAA to deny a medical application. Simply presenting with the disqualifying symptoms or condition, or having experienced the symptoms or condition in the past, regardless of whether the airman currently has the symptoms or condition, may be sufficient justification for the FAA to deny the medical certificate.

In order for the ALJ to reverse the FAA's denial, the airman must prove by substantial, reliable and probative evidence that the airman is qualified for the medical certificate for which he or she applied, without limitations. In light of the NTSB's deference to the FAA's medical experts, this can be a very difficult burden to meet. Additionally, an appeal is expensive: Expert medical testimony and attorney fees required for the appeal process can be quite costly.

In this airman's situation, bipolar disorder is a disqualifying condition that prevents the FAA from issuing an unrestricted medical certificate. While the FAA may consider the airman for a special issuance, that decision is solely up to the FAA and may not be appealed. So, the airman would have to fight the FAA's determination that the airman has bipolar disorder.

In order to have the FAA’s denial reversed, the airman has to convince the ALJ. This means the airman would need to have the current doctor testify not only that the airman does not suffer from bipolar disorder, but also that the airman’s current condition, to extent the airman has other disclosed medical conditions, still meets the standards for issuance of an unrestricted medical certificate. It may also be beneficial to have an independent doctor evaluate the airman and provide an opinion that athe airman does not have bipolar disorder.

Additionally, the current doctor would need to explain why the earlier bipolar diagnosis was incorrect. Depending upon the circumstances, this can be a very tough battle for the airman to win.

Unfortunately, at a time when more and more doctors are “diagnosing” kids with ADD, ADHD and other such conditions, this situation is becoming more and more common. And as we have seen, a misdiagnosis as a youth may come back to haunt an adult who wants to become a pilot and needs a medical certificate.

If you find yourself in this situation or have a medical condition that may disqualify you from obtaining a medical certificate, get help BEFORE you apply for a medical certificate. Talk to an aviation attorney or the medical certification professionals at AOPA or NBAA.

By taking a pro-active approach and getting help, you will be able to "pick your battles" wisely to maximize your chances of being able to earn your wings and/or successfully obtaining a medical certificate if necessary.



Posted by Greg

Aviation Law Discussions - Archives

12/01/2003 - 12/31/2003
01/01/2004 - 01/31/2004
02/01/2004 - 02/29/2004
03/01/2004 - 03/31/2004
04/01/2004 - 04/30/2004
05/01/2004 - 05/31/2004
06/01/2004 - 06/30/2004
07/01/2004 - 07/31/2004
08/01/2004 - 08/31/2004
09/01/2004 - 09/30/2004
10/01/2004 - 10/31/2004
11/01/2004 - 11/30/2004
12/01/2004 - 12/31/2004
01/01/2005 - 01/31/2005
02/01/2005 - 02/28/2005
03/01/2005 - 03/31/2005
04/01/2005 - 04/30/2005
05/01/2005 - 05/31/2005
06/01/2005 - 06/30/2005
07/01/2005 - 07/31/2005
08/01/2005 - 08/31/2005
09/01/2005 - 09/30/2005
10/01/2005 - 10/31/2005
11/01/2005 - 11/30/2005
12/01/2005 - 12/31/2005
01/01/2006 - 01/31/2006
02/01/2006 - 02/28/2006
03/01/2006 - 03/31/2006
04/01/2006 - 04/30/2006
05/01/2006 - 05/31/2006
06/01/2006 - 06/30/2006
07/01/2006 - 07/31/2006
08/01/2006 - 08/31/2006
09/01/2006 - 09/30/2006
10/01/2006 - 10/31/2006
11/01/2006 - 11/30/2006
12/01/2006 - 12/31/2006
01/01/2007 - 01/31/2007
02/01/2007 - 02/28/2007
03/01/2007 - 03/31/2007
04/01/2007 - 04/30/2007
05/01/2007 - 05/31/2007
06/01/2007 - 06/30/2007
07/01/2007 - 07/31/2007
08/01/2007 - 08/31/2007
09/01/2007 - 09/30/2007
10/01/2007 - 10/31/2007
11/01/2007 - 11/30/2007
12/01/2007 - 12/31/2007
01/01/2008 - 01/31/2008
02/01/2008 - 02/29/2008
03/01/2008 - 03/31/2008
04/01/2008 - 04/30/2008
05/01/2008 - 05/31/2008
06/01/2008 - 06/30/2008
07/01/2008 - 07/31/2008
08/01/2008 - 08/31/2008
09/01/2008 - 09/30/2008
10/01/2008 - 10/31/2008
11/01/2008 - 11/30/2008
12/01/2008 - 12/31/2008
01/01/2009 - 01/31/2009
02/01/2009 - 02/28/2009
03/01/2009 - 03/31/2009
04/01/2009 - 04/30/2009
05/01/2009 - 05/31/2009
06/01/2009 - 06/30/2009
07/01/2009 - 07/31/2009
08/01/2009 - 08/31/2009
09/01/2009 - 09/30/2009
10/01/2009 - 10/31/2009
11/01/2009 - 11/30/2009
12/01/2009 - 12/31/2009
01/01/2010 - 01/31/2010
02/01/2010 - 02/28/2010
03/01/2010 - 03/31/2010
04/01/2010 - 04/30/2010
05/01/2010 - 05/31/2010
06/01/2010 - 06/30/2010
07/01/2010 - 07/31/2010
08/01/2010 - 08/31/2010
09/01/2010 - 09/30/2010
10/01/2010 - 10/31/2010
11/01/2010 - 11/30/2010
12/01/2010 - 12/31/2010
01/01/2011 - 01/31/2011
02/01/2011 - 02/28/2011
03/01/2011 - 03/31/2011
05/01/2011 - 05/31/2011
06/01/2011 - 06/30/2011
07/01/2011 - 07/31/2011
08/01/2011 - 08/31/2011
09/01/2011 - 09/30/2011
10/01/2011 - 10/31/2011
11/01/2011 - 11/30/2011
12/01/2011 - 12/31/2011
01/01/2012 - 01/31/2012
02/01/2012 - 02/29/2012
03/01/2012 - 03/31/2012
04/01/2012 - 04/30/2012
05/01/2012 - 05/31/2012
06/01/2012 - 06/30/2012
07/01/2012 - 07/31/2012
08/01/2012 - 08/31/2012
10/01/2012 - 10/31/2012
11/01/2012 - 11/30/2012
12/01/2012 - 12/31/2012
02/01/2013 - 02/28/2013
04/01/2013 - 04/30/2013
05/01/2013 - 05/31/2013
06/01/2013 - 06/30/2013
07/01/2013 - 07/31/2013
08/01/2013 - 08/31/2013
11/01/2013 - 11/30/2013
12/01/2013 - 12/31/2013
01/01/2014 - 01/31/2014
02/01/2014 - 02/28/2014
05/01/2014 - 05/31/2014
07/01/2014 - 07/31/2014
08/01/2014 - 08/31/2014
10/01/2014 - 10/31/2014
12/01/2014 - 12/31/2014
01/01/2015 - 01/31/2015
03/01/2015 - 03/31/2015
04/01/2015 - 04/30/2015
06/01/2015 - 06/30/2015
07/01/2015 - 07/31/2015
08/01/2015 - 08/31/2015
10/01/2015 - 10/31/2015
12/01/2015 - 12/31/2015
03/01/2016 - 03/31/2016
07/01/2016 - 07/31/2016
08/01/2016 - 08/31/2016
10/01/2016 - 10/31/2016
01/01/2017 - 01/31/2017
02/01/2017 - 02/28/2017
03/01/2017 - 03/31/2017
04/01/2017 - 04/30/2017
05/01/2017 - 05/31/2017
06/01/2017 - 06/30/2017
07/01/2017 - 07/31/2017
08/01/2017 - 08/31/2017
09/01/2017 - 09/30/2017
10/01/2017 - 10/31/2017
11/01/2017 - 11/30/2017

< ? law blogs # >

The information contained in this web-site is intended for the education and benefit of those visiting the Aero Legal Services site. The information should not be relied upon as advice to help you with your specific issue. Each case is unique and must be analyzed by an attorney licensed to practice in your area with respect to the particular facts and applicable current law before any advice can be given. Sending an e-mail to Aero Legal Services or Gregory J. Reigel does not create an attorney-client relationship. Advice will not be given by e-mail until an attorney-client relationship has been established.

© Gregory J. Reigel-Aero Legal Services 2002-Present. All rights reserved.