Operator files lawsuit over Norwood penalties

 - April 30, 2010, 5:00 AM

A lawsuit recently filed involving a charter operator versus the Massachusetts airport at which it is based could set a precedent regarding what constitutes an ATC clearance. Boston Air Charter (BAC) on April 14 filed a lawsuit in the Norfolk County Superior Court against the town of Norwood, challenging the resolutions of the Norwood Airport Commission to suspend BAC’s rights to operate out of the airfield and sought a preliminary injunction to prohibit the commission from enforcing that action. A decision was pending at press time.

The Norwood Airport Commission unanimously voted on two resolutions to punish BAC for causing an alleged “public hazard” by launching two Citations on March 17 without proper ATC clearance while Norwood Airport was closed to fixed-wing operations due to flooding. An FAA spokesman told AIN that the pilots “were aware of the Notam in place that the airport was closed.” Airport commissioners accused BAC of disregarding safety and taking off without an ATC clearance from a “contaminated runway.”

During the meeting, the commission members refused several attempts by attorney Matthew Watsky to make a presentation on BAC’s behalf. He argued that the two crews had “appropriate” clearances. According to Watsky, “The crews were issued squawk and departure frequencies and told they would be departing at their own risk. Consistent with the regulations, ATC gave an ‘appropriate clearance.’”

At press time, the Boston FSDO was investigating to determine if the pilots violated FAR Part 91.129(i). The Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission was also investigating whether any state regulations were violated.