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Notifying the FAA Of a Change Of Address

by Greg Reigel 1. November 2008 00:00
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The FAA wants to be able to track you down. Why? Aside from the obvious compliance and enforcement reasons, the FAA also wants to keep airmen informed of seminars (e.g. Wings programs etc.), to request input from airmen regarding local issues (e.g. airspace design, airport closure etc.) and to provide airmen with any other aviation safety information it feels is beneficial or necessary. As usual, it accomplishes this goal through the Federal Aviation Regulations ("FARs").

The Regulation

FAR 61.60 requires that airmen keep the FAA informed of their permanent mailing address. (A similar regulation applying to airmen other than flight crewmembers is found at FAR 65.21.) Specifically, FAR 61.60 prohibits an airman from exercising the privileges of his or her certificates if the airman has failed to provide the FAA's Airman Certification Branch with a new permanent mailing address within 30 days of changing his or her permanent mailing address.

The change of permanent mailing address may be reported to the FAA via U.S. Mail or via the internet. If via mail, the notification must be sent to FAA, Airman Certification Branch, P.O. Box 25082, Oklahoma City, OK 73125. If via internet, airmen should go to the FAA's website here, where a form may be completed to notify the FAA of a change in permanent mailing address.

When an airman cannot provide a permanent residence address (e.g. where the person resides in a motor home or is in the process of moving), it is permissible for the airman to use his or her parent's or friend's permanent address as the airman's permanent address. This is frequently the case with newly hired airline pilots who are domiciled out of a different city from the city in which they will ultimately reside when they acquire enough seniority to hold the appropriate schedule.

Some airmen attempt to simplify compliance with this regulation by disclosing a post office box as the permanent mailing address. That way, so the argument goes, the airman can move as much as he or she wants without having to provide notice to the FAA with each move. This is a nice idea, in theory. Unfortunately, the regulation accounts for this scenario and requires the airman to also provide his or her current residential address if a post office box is disclosed as the permanent mailing address.

FAR 61.60 does not specifically ask for your "residence" or where you live, except when you are using a post office box for a permanent mailing address. Also, the regulations do not define "permanent mailing address," or "residential address" for that matter. However, the reasonable implication of FAR 61.60's requirement is that the FAA wants an address where it knows that information mailed by it to that address will be received by the airman. For most airmen, this address is where they live.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

A failure to comply with FAR 61.60 usually presents in one of two situations. First, the issue may come to light during the course of a ramp check or check ride conducted by an FAA inspector/examiner when he or she compares the addresses on an individual's airman and medical certificates and the driver's license or other government identification, which airmen are required to carry when flying. Inconsistent addresses on the documents may lead an FAA inspector to confirm the address on file with the FAA to determine which address was current and whether it matched the FAA's records. If the airman's current permanent mailing address does not match the FAA's records, the airman is technically in violation of FAR 61.60.

However, it is unclear what sanction the FAA may seek to impose for a violation of FAR 61.60, if any. A review of the Sanction Guidance Table in FAA Order 2150.3B does not disclose a specific reference to FAR 61.60. Further, a quick search of National Transportation Safety Board ("NTSB") reported cases does not reveal any reported cases in which the FAA has pursued enforcement action against an airman for violation of FAR 61.60.

This isn't to say that the FAA will not or can not pursue enforcement action for a violation of FAR 61.60. It simply means that if the FAA pursued an action, we don't have any clear guidance as to what sanction the FAA would seek to impose. Depending upon the circumstances, the sanction sought could be anywhere from a minimal suspension up to revocation.

Second, the consequences of violating FAR 61.60 often appear in enforcement actions arising from unrelated FAR violations. Many airmen have suffered suspensions and revocations for unrelated FAR violations without the benefit of a hearing or appeal as a direct result of their failure to comply with FAR 61.60. How does this happen?

Well, in order to initiate an enforcement action against an airman, the FAA must serve the airman with a "notice of proposed certificate action" ("NPCA") or "notice of proposed civil penalty" ("NPCP"). This NPCA/NPCP offers an airman several alternatives for responding to the NPCA/NPCP and the airman must choose and pursue one of the alternatives within 20 days. If the FAA does not receive a timely response from the airman (in this case because the airman was unaware of the NPCA/NPCP because it went to the airman's address of record with the FAA which was no longer current) then the FAA will simply issue an order imposing the sanction sought in the NPCA/NPCP.

When the FAA mails an order of suspension, revocation or civil penalty to an airman via certified mail, service is effective on the date of the mailing. An airman must appeal an order within a specified period of time (20 days for a non-emergency order and 10 days for an emergency order or 2 days for appeal of emergency determination) otherwise the order becomes final and un-appealable. (Of course, if the airman did not receive the NPCA/NPCP because of the incorrect address, more often than not the airman will not receive the order either.)

If an airman later learns of the FAA's order and attempts to appeal the order, unless unusual circumstances are present, the airman's appeal will likely be denied. NTSB precedent holds that when the FAA mails the order to the airman's permanent address on file with the Airman Certification Branch, the use of such address constitutes constructive notice. As a result, if the FAA has provided constructive notice to an airman, the NTSB deems that the airman has received notice, whether the airman has actually received the NPCA/NPCP/order or not.

If the airman failed to keep the FAA informed of a change of his or her permanent mailing address, the airman will not be able to argue on appeal that he or she never received proper service. According to the NTSB, "[c]ertificate holders must ensure that they keep their official records, to include a permanent address of record at which they may receive official correspondence regarding their certificates, current."

Further, failure to receive an order that was sent to the most current permanent mailing address contained in the FAA's record does not constitute "good cause" that would excuse the untimely filing of an appeal. The NTSB has rejected, and continues to reject, arguments of "good cause" based upon an airman's failure to receive the mail when his or her permanent mailing address differs from the one contained in the FAA's records.

Conclusion

Like it or not, airmen need to make sure the FAA knows where it can reach them. Not only does FAR 61.60 require it, but it also makes good sense. The FAA does, on occasion, send airmen aviation safety information that is beneficial and unrelated to compliance and enforcement. And, if you are involved in an enforcement investigation, you probably want to make sure that the FAA sends things to an address where you know you will receive them so you can preserve your rights and respond in a timely manner. After all, if the FAA wants to pursue an action against you and it uses the current address it has in its records, it can do so whether you actually receive its order or not.

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Greg Reigel

Failure to Disclose a Conviction on an Airman Medical Application

by Greg Reigel 1. November 2008 00:00
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Consistent with precedent, the National Transportation Safety Board recently affirmed an Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") grant of summary judgment to the FAA on an order revoking all of an airman's certificates for violation of FAR 67.403(a)(1) (prohibition against making fraudulent or intentionally false statements on an application for a medical certificate). In Administrator v. Martinez, the airman checked the "no" box for question 18w on the application for medical certificate, certifying that he had "no history of nontraffic conviction(s) (misdemeanors or felonies)." However, less than 8 months earlier the airman had been convicted of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

When the FAA discovered the discrepancy, it issued an emergency order revoking the airman's commercial pilot, ground instructor, flight instructor, and medical certificates, as well as any other airman certificates held by the airman. The airman appealed the revocation and, upon motion by the FAA, the ALJ entered judgment against the airman and affirmed the FAA's revocation order. The airman then appealed the ALJ's decision to the full Board.

On appeal, the Board initially reviewed the law applicable to an intentional falsification case: The FAA must prove that an airman (1) made a false representation, (2) in reference to a material fact, (3) with knowledge of the falsity of the fact. Applying the law to the case, the Board determined that the airman's answer to question 18w was false and material and the airman knew his answer was false.

With respect to the airman's defenses that he lacked intent to falsify and that he misunderstood the questions, the Board observed that failure to consider question 18w on a medical application carefully before providing an answer does not establish a lack of intent to provide false information. It further noted that lack of intent to provide false information is not proved by an airman's disclosure of the conviction to his employer. Similarly, the Board found that the two questions about traffic (18v) and other convictions (18w) are not confusing to a person of ordinary intelligence. It then concluded that the sanction of revocation was appropriate and consistent with Board precedent in falsification cases.

This case is neither unusual nor unexpected. The FAA takes a dim view of falsification cases and the NTSB supports this position. You may wonder "what does a disorderly conduct misdemeanor have to do with medical qualification or flying an airplane?" Well, it doesn't necessarily. However, as far as the FAA is concerned, the conviction is something of which the FAA believes it should be made aware.

Maybe the incident upon which the conviction was based involved drugs or alcohol but through a plea deal resulted in a conviction for an offense that would not otherwise be reportable to the FAA or disqualifying under FAR 61.15 (Offenses involving drugs and alcohol). And even if the conviction was unrelated to drugs or alcohol, the fact that an applicant was convicted is something that the FAA takes into consideration when issuing a medical certificate.

Additionally, although the sanction may appear extreme, after all the falsification was on an application for a medical certificate and did not relate to any other airman certificate, the FAA considers falsification evidence that an airman lacks the qualification to hold any airman certificate, medical or otherwise. Thus, an omission or a false statement on a medical application, or any other application for that matter, will jeopardize all of an airman's certificates.

The result is unfortunate for the airman in this case for a couple of reasons. First, disclosure of a disorderly conduct misdemeanor is, by itself, typically not disqualifying. Absent any other circumstances (e.g. involvement of alcohol or drugs, history of convictions etc.), if the airman had disclosed the conviction he probably would have still been issued a medical certificate. Second, the airman is now back to square one. If he wants to continue to fly, he will need to re-take written examinations and check rides etc. In the meantime, he will have to earn a living doing something other than flying airplanes or teaching people how to fly airplanes.

This case is a good example of why accurate disclosure on an application for medical certificate is necessary and, indeed, in the majority of situations is preferable to the consequences that can result from falsification. If you have questions about what you are obligated to disclose in response to Question 18 and its subparts on an application for medical certificate, consult with an aviation attorney before you go in for your examination. An aviation attorney will be able to tell you whether you need to disclose something and what, if any, impact that disclosure may have on your application. It may not be as bad as you think.

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Greg Reigel

Market Your Aviation Department

by David Wyndham 1. November 2008 00:00
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Marketing is a social and managerial process by which a business obtains what they need by creating and exchanging products and services with others. The way to do this is to focus in on the needs, wants and desires of the customer. If you are selling foot warmers, you market them by letting customers know that your product will meet their need for keeping their feet warm during long, cold winter nights. If you are a business aircraft operator, you need to do the same thing with your product: the aircraft. This applies as much to the not-for-profit business aircraft as to the commercial operator.

Two guys were roommates in college and become good friends. After graduation both got jobs with different tool manufacturers. They lost touch and didn't see each other for a few years. When they next met, they compared their level of success. The first guy was still living in a small apartment and driving a 10-year old car. The second guy just bought a house and had a much nicer, two-year old car. The first guy couldn't figure it out. He exclaimed, "We are both smart guys, both work hard, both sell the same kinds of drills and bits. Why are you so successful and I am not?" The second guy replied, "You're still selling drill bits, I'm selling holes."

The second salesman focused in on his ability to meet the needs of his customer. It is the same with the aircraft.

The aircraft meets the need for fast, efficient, comfortable transportation. It meets the need to get and keep your current customers. It meets the need to be home for your kid's soccer championship game. It meets the need for geographically separate teams to meet face to face to create more value in less time. Even in these tough economic times, those needs still exist.

Marketing 101 says to identify your customers. For the flight department, it is the senior executives who use or authorize the use of the aircraft. Beyond the CEO, are there others in the organization that can have their needs met by using the aircraft? Five mid-level executives can create value just as the CEO.

Remind the customers how effective the aircraft is in meeting their needs: Cincinnati to Cleveland to Pittsburgh and back home in the same day with the aircraft. Two meetings for the price of one day can't be bought with an airline ticket. If there are fewer people to get the job done, the aircraft will make their working hours more productive. Recall some of the trips in the past where the aircraft enabled a successful sale or acquisition, made it possible to close the deal and be home for the anniversary dinner, or allowed the last minute schedule change to happen so smooth and effortless.

As the aviation manager, you need to "get downtown" to meet with the executives, remind them of the value of the service you provide, and to explore other ways to use the aircraft to meet the company's needs. Don't assume they love you, get some face time, make the case, and let them know the next hour flown just costs fuel and maintenance as all the overhead is already absorbed.

Doing More With Less

by David Wyndham 1. November 2008 00:00
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What if the powers-that-be tell you to cut the budget 15? Many of you are facing being told to cut the budget, and yet asked to maintain the same high level of service. Do more with less. Been there before? Are you there now?

How do you spend less and still keep flying?

Look at your current flying schedule. Can several trips be combined into one? Can the Monday trip to Des Moines be combined with the Tuesday trip to Cedar Rapids? If Cincinnati is on the way to Omaha, maybe you can drop off someone? You are still accomplishing the same mission, but with fewer hours and dollars.

Save on fuel: You have a choice in where you purchase fuel. While choosing an FBO based solely on fuel price (or any other single requirement) isn't necessarily the best, work with the FBO's you frequent most often to negotiate the best prices. Make use of the GlobalAir fuel surveys. Use Max-Trax (http://maxtrax.globalair.com/) to find where the best fuel prices are along your route of flight. Investigate fuel discount programs. It may be by using a fuel card or a professional association discount. These programs and discounts change, so review them at least once each year.

Inventory management: We had one client who had hundreds of thousands of dollars in spare parts for an aircraft they no longer owned! Even at twenty cents on the dollar in liquidation, that was a lot of extra cash lying around doing nothing. As a rule, inventory will cost 15% to 25% of its value in carrying costs - storage, insurance, loss, etc. How much inventory do you really need for your aircraft? What are your most frequently replaced parts? How good is the manufacturer's AOG dispatch? Careful management of your inventory can save thousands.

What about parts warranties? Regardless of aircraft age, an aircraft can have many new or remanufactured parts installed. Those parts typically carry some sort of warranty. Tracking their ages/hours/cycles can result in savings should they need replacement while in warranty.

Maintenance Tracking: Software can be a valuable aid in determining where your maintenance expenses are and also in managing your inventory. You can't manage what you can't see. This may be done using the manufacturer's software, third-party software, or a simple spreadsheet.

Aircraft Replacement: Replace your aircraft with a newer one! If we are talking of saving money so how can getting a new aircraft save money? If the newer aircraft requires a lot less time in maintenance than your current one, then you (a) save in maintenance costs and (b) get increased utilization due to increased availability. We did a study for a fleet operator and we showed that replacing their five old aircraft with three new ones not only gave them MORE availability and more capability, it cost less to do so. The market is very favorable to a buyer, so if you can justify the replacement, now is a good time to acquire an aircraft.

Employee Cross Training: The Other areas may involve cross-training your staff to do multiple jobs. A scheduler can also be trained as a flight attendant. Pilots can be trained to fly more than one make of aircraft, and when not flying can take on some administrative duties in the flight operation. That's not to say "do everything in-house." Outsourcing to specialists can prove to be very cost efficient in terms of time and material savings. Your people are your most valuable asset - manage them wisely and seek their inputs.

Communicate: One last item is to make sure to communicate to management what you are doing and how to interpret your costs. Paying out for a major phase inspection or an engine overhaul may make it look like your costs are too high. Educate the CFO as to the cyclical nature of aircraft costs. That $300,000 overhaul might have taken 3,600 flight hours to accrue. Don't assume they realize that. Let them know you are concerned about managing costs.

Are you facing a smaller budget? Click reply and let us know what you are doing to save money.

Thank you in advance.



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