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NTSB To Assist Afghan Authorities With Investigation Into Bagram Cargo Plane Crash

by GlobalAir.com 30. April 2013 13:28
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WASHINGTON - The National Transportation Safety Board will lead a team to assist the Afghanistan Ministry of Transportation and Commercial Aviation in the investigation of a cargo plane crash at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Tim LeBaron will be the U.S. accredited representative. He will lead a team of three additional investigators from the NTSB as well as representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and The Boeing Company.

The private cargo plane, a Boeing 747-400 operated by National Air Cargo, crashed just after takeoff from the U.S.-operated air base at 11:20 a.m. local time Monday. All seven crewmembers onboard were killed and the airplane destroyed. The seven crew members were all American citizens. The accident site is within the perimeter of Bagram Air Base.

The international cargo flight was destined for Dubai World Central - Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The Afghanistan Ministry of Transportation and Commercial Aviation is leading the investigation and will be the sole source of information regarding the investigation. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, they can be reached at (873) 68 2341450 / 49 or by fax at (873) 68 1280784.

Contact Information
Office of Public Affairs
490 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20594

Eric M. Weiss
(202) 314-6100
eric.weiss@ntsb.gov

NTSB No Longer "Bound By" FAA's Choice Of Sanction

by Greg Reigel 30. April 2013 13:10
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As you may be aware, the Pilot's Bill of Rights mandated changes to the way FAA enforcement cases are handled by the NTSB. One of the significant changes to the conduct of hearings relates to the deference the administrative law judge ("ALJ") must give to the FAA's choice of sanction (e.g. suspension versus revocation). Before the Pilot's Bill of Rights, 49 U.S.C. 44703(d)(2) provided that the NTSB was

"bound by all validly adopted interpretations of laws and regulations the [FAA] administrator carries out and of written agency policy guidance available to the public related to sanctions to be imposed under this section unless the Board finds an interpretation is arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not according to law."

And prior to the Pilot's Bill of Rights the NTSB had, in fact, consistently held that it was bound by (1) the FAA's choice of sanction derived from the Sanction Guidance Table contained in FAA Order 2150.3B and (2) previous cases approving the FAA's choice of sanction for particular types of violations.

The Pilot's Bill of Rights expressly eliminated this "bound by" language. The NTSB is no longer required to simply accept the sanction proposed by the FAA in an enforcement case. Rather, the NTSB is permitted to select what it believes to be the appropriate sanction based upon the facts of the cases and any mitigating or aggravating circumstances. However, the Pilot's Bill of Rights did not address what impact this change in language might have on the Board's reliance upon prior case law and precedent. Fortunately, a recent Board decision addressed this issue.

In Administrator v. Jones, the Board was reviewing an ALJ's decision in an intentional falsification case in which the ALJ adopted the FAA's time-tested assertion that revocation of all airman certificates is the appropriate sanction in such cases. Consistent with the Pilot's Bill of Rights, the Board initially recognized that it was not bound by the FAA's choice of sanction. It then went on to state that "we are reluctant to engage in sanction comparison to cases decided prior to the enactment of the Pilot's Bill of Rights." Thus, rather than rely upon case law and precedent developed while the NTSB was still subject to the "bound by" requirement, the Board will now perform its own analysis to determine whether the sanction sought by the FAA in a particular case is reasonable and appropriate.

However, it is important to understand that this does not change the deference the Board must give an administrative agency's interpretation of its regulations and proposed sanctions for violation of those regulations. If the agency's interpretation and choice of sanction is reasonable and not otherwise arbitrary, capricious, or manifestly contrary to the regulation, the Board must still defer to that position. But, at least the NTSB is no longer required to simply "rubber stamp" the FAA's choice of sanction without performing some analysis as to whether it is reasonable. And that is good news for airmen.

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Greg Reigel

FAA Suspends Furloughs For Air Traffic Controllers

by GlobalAir.com 29. April 2013 13:24
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Article published by: FoxNews.com



The Federal Aviation Administration said Saturday it has suspended furloughs for air traffic controllers, after Congress pressured the Obama administration to end recent, widespread flight delays.

The agency said air traffic facilities will begin to return to regular staffing levels over the next 24 hours and the system will resume normal operations by Sunday evening.

Congress approved a bipartisan bill Friday that it sent to President Obama and allowed the FAA to use up to $253 million from an airport improvement program and other accounts to halt the furloughs through Sept. 30, the end of the government's fiscal year.

The furloughs that started Sunday resulted in thousands of delays and cancellations at major airports across the country, with FAA officials warning by late in the week that the situation, combined with weather problems, would continue to cause delays.

Republicans said Saturday the bill shows the Obama administration miscalculated by trying to “inflicting pain” on Americans by allowing massive cuts to the federal budget.

"There are some in the Obama administration who thought inflicting pain on the public would give the president more leverage to avoid making necessary spending cuts, and to impose more tax hikes on the American people," said Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Bill Shuster.

Washington allowed the cuts to begin in January, equaling $85 billion just this year, after Republicans would not agree to a plan by Democrats to increase taxes to help solve the country’s budget problems.

Meanwhile, President Obama on Saturday blamed Republicans – first for the cuts, known as sequester, and for the legislation that passed Friday with bipartisan support and that the president is prepared to sign.

"Republicans claimed victory when the sequester first took effect, and now they've decided it was a bad idea all along," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

At the start of the week, the Federal Aviation Administration began furloughing air traffic controllers, saying the mandated cuts were necessary and part of agency-wide furloughs.

Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the FAA could have averted the flight delays on its own by cutting costs elsewhere and adjusting work schedules.

His comments, the Republican response to this week’s presidential address, follow FAA Administrator Michael Huerta telling a Republican-led House committee Wednesday that the agency has few savings options and that it was cutting contracts to run control towers at smaller airports to help save roughly $400 million more.

Obama said Saturday the bill is a "Band-Aid" solution, instead of a solid, long-term plan.

A congressional leadership aide told Fox News the bill still needs a small, technical fix by the Senate on Monday or Tuesday before the president can officially sign it. However, the delay shouldn't impact the FAA since it has the resources to end furloughs now and knew the fix was coming.

The cuts have affected all federal agencies, and the delays last week frustrated travelers enough to pressure Congress, before members left Friday for recess.

The president scolded lawmakers for helping the FAA while doing nothing to replace other cuts that he said harm federal employees, unemployed workers and preschoolers in Head Start.

"Maybe because they fly home each weekend, the members of Congress who insisted these cuts take hold finally realized that they actually apply to them, too," he said.

Rushed through Congress with remarkable speed, the bill marked a shift for Democrats who had hoped the impact of the cuts would increase pressure on Republicans to reverse them.

Republicans have rejected Obama's proposal to replace the spending reductions with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases.

Faced with the prospect that emboldened Republicans will push to selectively undo other painful effects of the cuts, the White House said Friday that a piecemeal approach would be impractical, but wouldn't definitely rule out signing other fixes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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GlobalAir.com | News

NBAA Calls on White House to End FAA Controller Furloughs

by GlobalAir.com 24. April 2013 17:17
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Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360, dhubbard@nbaa.org

Washington, DC, April 24, 2013 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has joined 11 aviation groups in petitioning the White House to provide the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with the funding flexibility it needs to avoid one-day-per-pay-period furloughs of air traffic control personnel.

The furloughs are the result of budget reductions forced upon the FAA following sequestration cuts that went into effect on March 1. To deal with the cuts, the FAA has announced traffic management initiatives, including spacing aircraft farther apart for takeoffs and landings, at airports and facilities around the country, which it has said may cause a wide range of flight delays.

In an April 19 letter to White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough, the aviation groups call the furloughs, "an unprecedented occurrence that is very concerning to those of us in the aviation community."

The letter points out that controllers in the past have been exempt from furloughs for an important reason: "These frontline safety professionals perform an essential service in facilitating commerce in our country by maintaining a safe and efficient National Airspace System (NAS)." The aviation groups add that controller staffing "should always be based on traffic flow demands, with the safety and efficiency of the system the foremost consideration."

Review the industry letter to the White House. (PDF)

The industry groups also noted that other federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection, "have taken steps to ensure they will not need to furlough employees in order to reach the required budget reductions," while adding that many legal experts believe the FAA already has the flexibility it needs to avoid furloughing controllers.

In closing, the aviation groups said: "Without action, it will be challenging for air traffic to continue to operate at its current rate of high efficiency," noting that they "have always been dedicated to enhancing the efficiency and capacity of the NAS."

# # #

Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 9,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the world's largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.

Members of the media may receive NBAA Press Releases immediately via email. To subscribe to the NBAA Press Release email list, submit the online form.

NTSB Releases Agenda And Media Logistics For Boeing 787 Battery Investigative Hearing

by GlobalAir.com 19. April 2013 15:11
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WASHINGTON – The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a two-day investigative hearing into the Jan. 7 Boeing 787 battery fire on April 23-24 in the NTSB’s Board Room and Conference Center at 429 L’Enfant Plaza SW in Washington. The hearing will start at 9 a.m. on both days.

Representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration, The Boeing Company, GS-Yuasa and Thales will testify and answer questions from NTSB Board members and technical staff about the design, testing, certification and operation of the lithium-ion battery on the Boeing 787 and the battery fire incident.

The full agenda, including a list of witnesses is available at http://go.usa.gov/TBye.

Investigative exhibits for the hearing will be placed in the electronic docket at the opening of the hearing and will be available at http://go.usa.gov/TW43 after the hearing begins. Witness presentations will be uploaded at lunch and at the conclusion of each day and will be available at http://go.usa.gov/TDAz.

NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman will be available to answer questions from the media at the conclusion of each day. Additional details about the availabilities will be announced next week.

Television coverage of the proceedings will be by network pool. Escorted cutaway shooting will be permitted for brief periods. Still photographers will be permitted in the seating area of the Board Room and by escort to areas in front of the witness panels.

Because of construction at and around L’Enfant Plaza, satellite and other media trucks will have to obtain credentials for parking and running cable through the construction zone. To expedite this process, media should RSVP to eric.weiss@ntsb.gov. A media room is also available with tables, chairs and an audio mult box with translations of the proceedings into English, French and Japanese. Audio headsets with translation service will be provided. Generally-accepted media credentials will be required for access to the media room. In addition, a fully equipped overflow room has been established and will serve as a storage area for video equipment during the hearing.

Seating for the general public in the Board Room is on a first-come, first-served basis. The hearing will also be webcast live on the Board's web page, www.ntsb.gov, without translation service.

Standard federal security procedures for the Board Room and Conference Center will be utilized. All persons entering the facility and their possessions will be subject to inspection and will need to show photo ID. Persons leaving the facility will have to pass through screening again to gain re-entry.

Contact Information
Office of Public Affairs
490 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20594

Eric Weiss
(202) 314-6100
eric.weiss@ntsb.gov

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