FAA Must Pay in Lost Case Against Corporate Pilots

 - September 10, 2008, 12:25 PM

The NTSB’s chief administrative law judge on September 3 ordered the FAA to pay $12,475 in attorney fees and expenses to two pilots, whom the Agency had accused of operating an unairworthy Learjet 60, and the FAA subsequently withdrew its suspension of the pilot’s airline transport pilot certificates. The FAA, which had initiated an enforcement action in March, based its determination of the airplane’s unairworthiness on the removal of a divan and installation of a non-operational ELT. The divan removal was documented in the aircraft’s logbooks and weight-and-balance paperwork, and was done based on approval by an Albuquerque, N.M., FAA inspector. Despite that approval, Teterboro, N.J. FAA inspectors decided that the removal required a supplemental type certificate, not just a log entry. The ELT had been reinstalled following failure of a battery test, without replacing the battery, which raises questions because FAA regulations permit removal of an ELT for maintenance for up to 90 days (FAR 91.207). The enforcement action originally included an attempt to extract a civil penalty of $9,900 from the Learjet’s owner. This penalty was also dropped.