You may have read reports that the FAA lost two significant legal cases in the last few months, one involving model aircraft drone registration and the other a petition for rulemaking on airline seat sizes. These losses and what the Court had to say left me wondering what — if anything — the decisions reveal about FAA decision-making. READ MORE
The FAA issued a proposal today to change the way small airplanes are certified to “reflect the needs of the small airplane industry, accommodate future trends, address emerging technologies, and enable” the creation of new manufacturers and new airplane types.
With the changes last year to the FAA’s compliance philosophy, listening to frontline workers when they raise safety concerns has become even more critical for aviation businesses. In terms of FAA enforcement, the new philosophy makes clear that aviation entities that find and correct their own problems will fare much better than entities that don’t when it comes to FAA legal enforcement. Legal enforcement generally involves civil penalties or punitive certificate suspensions, but can also include cease-and-desist and emergency remedial orders.
With all the negative press about drones, it’s hard sometimes to even find out about some of the exciting possibilities that drone technology offers, especially in the maintenance arena. A lot of that negativity, unfortunately, is spurred on by the FAA that seems to publicly focus only on the potential negative safety impacts of drones and much less on the very real potential safety benefits. Whatever positive news does make it through the anti-drone media usually involves operational use of drones – for example, drones performing high-risk inspections previously performed by helicopters l
The tragic accident this past month involving a service technician that was working an Air India flight pushing back from the gate at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport reminds us of the dangers that airport workers face day in and day out on the ramp and in the hangar. For reasons still under investigation, the airplane’s crew started the aircraft engines while the technician was standing near the nose wheel. I don’t have to tell you all what happened next.
I was disheartened to hear recently of an airline mechanic who was fired from his job for reporting safety violations. Of course, no one should ever be fired for reporting safety problems. But if they are, they should at least know what their rights are. In this case, it was particularly disturbing that the mechanic had never heard of the federal law that protects him and other airline mechanics – Parts 121 and 135 - from retaliation for filing safety complaints with their employer or the government. The law, known as Air21 for short (its full title is the Wendell H.