September 2010 Aviation Articles

Why You Need To Read The Questions On An FAA Medical Application Before Answering

An airman recently found out the hard way that failure to read the questions on an FAA medical application was not a defense to a charge of intentional falsification under FAR 67.403(a)1. In Administrator v. Cooper, the FAA alleged that the airman checked "No" in response to question 18(v) on the medical application which asks about convictions and/or administrative actions relating to the applicant's driver's license. However, the airman's driver's license had, in fact, been suspended in connection with an alcohol related motor vehicle action.

As a result, the FAA issued an emergency order revoking the airman's airline transport pilot (ATP), certified flight instructor (CFI), and second-class medical certificates based upon alleged violations of FARs 67.403(a)(1) (prohibiting an airman from making fraudulent or intentionally false statements on an application for a medical certificate), 67.403(c)(1) (providing that the making of an incorrect statement in support of an application for a medical certificate may serve as a basis for suspending or revoking a medical certificate) and 61.15(e) (requiring an airman to provide a written report of each motor vehicle action to the FAA, Civil Aviation Security Division within 60 days).

The airman appealed and presented a number of arguments at the hearing. Although the airman admitted that he failed to answer question 18v correctly, he argued that he did not intentionally falsify the application because he had simply failed to read the question or the instructions that accompanied the medical application before answering. Rather than reading the questions, the airman stated that he had just copied his answers from a previous application. However, he also admitted that, if he had read question 18(v), he would have answered "Yes."

The administrative law judge ("ALJ") determined that the airman's incorrect answer was "inadvertent," and that the FAA had not shown that the airman had an intent to falsify the application. As a result, the ALJ dismissed the FAR 67.403(a)1 charge. However, because the airman did answer question 18(v) incorrectly, the ALJ concluded that revocation of the airman's medical certificate was appropriate for violation of FAR 67.403(c)1. The FAA appealed the ALJ's decision to the full NTSB, arguing that the ALJ erred in finding that the airman had not intentionally falsified the application simply because he did not read it.

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The Board initially observed that an airman must read the questions on a medical application carefully before answering them. It went on to state that an airman who does not read the questions on a medical certificate application "should be determined to have intended that whatever answer he gave be utilized in the review of his qualifications." Finally, the Board concluded that "failure to read a question before answering it renders the entire medical certificate application process pointless, and does not provide a defense to a charge of [FAR] 67.403(a)(1)." As a result, the Board granted the FAA's appeal and affirmed its revocation of all of the airman's certificates.

This case is different from other recent cases that have held that an airman's confusion about a question may present a defense to an intentional falsification charge. Here the airman admitted to not reading the question, rather than not understanding the question. As a result, the defense of "failing to read the question" is no longer a legitimate defense. However, the defense of "confusion" or "misunderstanding" of a question remains a viable defense which an ALJ may or may not find credible, although it is still not a particularly strong defense.

A terrible trio of bad news: Layoffs at Cessna, Beechcraft and Piper

A superstition commonly shared says that bad news comes in groups of three. Today, in the realms of business and general aviation, one has to wonder if that folklore also applies to layoffs.

Piper Aircraft announced yesterday that it would furlough 60 workers at its Florida facility. That consists of 6 percent of the company’s workforce, according to a local news report. Piper officials cited a lapse in aircraft orders as key in shrinking its labor pool.

The move comes right after similar announcements of 700 layoffs at Cessna and 350 layoffs at Hawker Beechcraft.

Hawker Beechcraft officials said, although orders are flat, they do not foresee large-scale reductions among hourly employees.

Cessna said its cuts manifested because orders for business jets have yet to meet projections. The company has cut the number of jobs on its payroll in Wichita nearly in half during the past two years of economic downturn, according to local news reports there.

Surely not all news is bad news. Read past the jump to find possible silver linings to this cloud. [more]

Despite the trimming, the current round of cuts will leave Piper with 830 employees, up more than one third from 580 employees a year ago.

In addition, the announcement came on the same day that the NBAA and other aviation groups applauded the passage of a small business law that, in part, allows credits on aircraft purchases and upgrades.

If bad news can come in threes, then perhaps good fortunes could bring a trifecta of positivity around the next bend.

What has business been like for your company this year compared to 2009? Are things better? Worse? Or slow but the same? Share your perspective in the comments below.

Eurocopter X3 begins testing; company calls it a turboprop-helicopter hybrid

Eurocopter raised the curtain today and gave the aviation world a look at its X3, a high-speed hybrid helicopter that the company calls “a new milestone in (its) innovation roadmap.”

The X3 will combine VTOL capabilities with a cruise speed of more than 220 knots, according to the company’s engineers.

The design includes a trio of rotors, with a five-blade main system on top and twin-prop short-span fixed wings on either side of the cockpit.

“This creates an advanced transportation system offering the speed of a turboprop-powered aircraft and the full hover flight capabilities of a helicopter,” says a statement on the company’s web site.

Read more about testing plans for the Eurocopter X3 after the jump. [more]

The company expects buyers to use the helicopter in long-range search and rescue missions, as well as coastal and border patrols, in addition to medical and military roles. The first X3 flight took place two weeks ago in France.

Initial testing will continue through the end of the year before speed testing starts in March 2011, the company said.

Read more about the today's development on the Eurocopter X3 from Aviation Week, Plane News, FlightGlobal and Business Jet Traveler.

Hawker Beechcraft announces new modification options for Beechcraft Bonanza, Beechcraft Baron

 

Hawker Beechcraft made two announcements late this week aimed at helping to modify and maintain two of its most popular aircraft. First, it announced a new company to provide overhauled engine accessories for the Beechcraft Baron and Beechcraft Bonanza, and then unveiled a new upgrade program for the Bonanza called Bonanza XTRA package.

In relation to the engine development, Quality Aircraft Accessories will overhaul engine parts at its repair station in Tulsa, Okla., and then deliver them to the Hawker Beechcraft parts distribution center in Dallas. Items will include magnetos, propeller governors, alternator drive couplings, starters and starter adapters, according to a statement from the aircraft manufacturer.

Follow the jump to read more about the new XTRA package for Bonanzas. [more]

A second statement highlighted the Bonanza XTRA program, which bundles several upgrades into a larger aircraft upgrade package that comes directly from the company.  Installations from its service networks will be able to add Garmin G500 avionics, D’Shannon Tip Tanks and Gross Weight Increase, a new interior from Aviation Design and an XTRA paint scheme.

Additional modifications include a performance package, avionics package and interior package.

The company notes in its statement that upgrades will vary by model. Aircraft owners interested in the upgrades can contact the company by phone or email via its web site.

NTSB to look into Embraer Phenom 100 landing issue

Flightglobal reports that the NTSB will look into a landing incident earlier this month in Texas, where a Phenom 100 skidded off the runway, damaging a landing-gear strut and wing light with no injuries.

Embraer said earlier this year it would re-evaluate pilot training on the brake-by-wire system of the jet following to previous landing incidents that resulted in blown tires. That company investigation, according to the Flightglobal report, considered mechanical issues, such as the brake lines and control units, as well as pilot training.

The magazine’s report notes that the NTSB involvement begins an official safety inquiry into the braking system of the Phenom 100. Embraer told Flightglobal that it supports the investigation as an advisor to Cenipa, the Brazilian equivalent.

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