All posts tagged 'FAA' - Page 15

Change of guard in Washington, D.C. should be good for aviation in the U.S.

The elections should be good not only for business aviation, but also for the overall aviation industry in the United States. Less government meddling and more free-market forces will ultimately lead to a more efficient system.

 

A significant change has taken place with the defeat of Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minnesota, who was the powerful chair of the House Transportation Committee.

 

Even had he not been defeated, with the change in party control, Rep. John Mica, R-Florida would still take the leadership position on this committee. Josh Mitchell, writing for the Wall Street Journal in a Nov. 5 article, talks about this in more detail.

 

If you have tracked Congress’s work (or lack thereof) in passing the FAA Funding Reauthorization Bill, you know that this bill has been held up from final passage due to non-related issues being attached to it regarding unionization of FedEx drivers. Mr. Oberstar was a friend of the unions, but his tenure in Congress is over.

 

Could it be that the gamesmanship might finally be over? Maybe we will get funding of NextGen and the FAA can take a long-term view of the development of the infrastructure this country needs to have an efficient air transportation system.  


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Another post-election article in Bloomberg discusses the major airlines gaining allies with the new Republican House on outsourcing and anti-trust issues.

 

Quoting from that article:
“The current Congress has been anti-airline,” said William Swelbar, a research engineer specializing in air transport at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. “There will be a new set of ears to listen to the industry.”  

 

The consensus seems to be that the new guard will be less intrusive into the affairs of the airlines and general aviation, letting the market work things out.

 

This is good news for the air transportation system and, ultimately, good news for the business and general aviation segments. Less interference will allow us to demonstrate our value without legislation unbalancing the system towards unions or big business interests.

How Long Does An Aircraft Mechanic's Lien Last?

I was recently asked the question "what happens to an aircraft mechanic's lien that isn't foreclosed upon within a certain period of time?" This person had been researching aircraft records at the FAA Registry and found several aircraft with liens that were recorded against the aircraft over 15 years ago. Not surprisingly, this made him wonder how long an aircraft mechanic's lien lasts.

Since aircraft mechanic's liens (also known as "artisan liens") are creatures of state statutes, the applicable state statute will govern the validity of and rights associated with an aircraft mechanic's lien. All but 7 states have aircraft mechanic's lien statutes. Although federal law requires that an aircraft mechanic lien be recorded with the Registry in order to be effective against a third party, state laws dictate the requirements for "perfecting" a mechanic's lien against an aircraft, and, once perfected, for enforcing the lien against the aircraft.

As long as the lien claim or lien statement contains the required information (e.g. name, address, description of work performed, last date of work and amount) and was filed within the time period allowed by the applicable state statute, the FAA Registry will record the lien and the recorded lien will be an encumbrance against the aircraft. At that point, the lien claim is "perfected." Unfortunately, neither the FAA Registry nor any aircraft title company will take a position regarding the validity/enforceability of an aircraft mechanic's lien once that lien is perfected.

Once perfected, the lien claimant will have to file a lawsuit to foreclose upon the lien within the time allowed by the applicable state statute. If that does not happen, the lien claimant will no longer be able to enforce the lien against the aircraft. The lien claimant may still have a claim against the aircraft owner, but the lien claimant would not be able to enforce that claim against the aircraft unless the lien claimant obtained a judgment against the aircraft owner for the amount owed and then recorded that judgment with the FAA Registry.

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However, simply because a lien claim is no longer enforceable against the aircraft under the applicable state law, that does not mean that the lien recorded at the FAA Registry is removed. The aircraft will only be released from the recorded lien at the FAA Registry in one of two ways: (1) if the lien claimant signs a release of the lien and the release is recorded with the FAA Registry; or (2) if a court order is obtained declaring the lien as either invalid or unenforceable and that order is then recorded with the FAA Registry. Thus, once recorded, a lien claim, whether enforceable under state law or not, remains an encumbrance against the aircraft until the lien is released, either voluntarily or by judicial order.

So, the short, and not particularly precise, answer is: an aircraft mechanic's lien could be a problem for an aircraft for a very long time.


Find FAA resources in the GlobalAir.com Aviation Business Directory
here.

Are we losing our sovereignty and freedom in all things commercial, business and general aviation?

Even though this past year in aviation legislation has been a quiet one, there has been a discernable undercurrent of change seeping into the foundation of the commercial, business and general aviation industry these past several years. The changes that have been slowly seeping in under most of our ‘news radars’, and when viewed as a composite, are so significant that we all now need to take immediate action before our worst fears become an industry reality.

The changes that I am referring to, and a lot of them are not caused by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or Transportation Security Administration (TSA), are as follows:

Establishment of an International Aircraft Registry in March 2006. This program is mandated by the FAA, whereby a seller cannot warrant ‘Free and Clear Title’ to his or her aircraft, unless it has registered with the I.R. The treaty resulted from a diplomatic conference held in Cape Town, South Africa in 2001. The conference was attended by 68 countries and 14 international organizations. In all, 53 countries signed the resolution proposing the treaty. It took effect when ratified by eight countries: Ethiopia, Ireland, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, Panama, Pakistan and the United States.

Failed attempt to introduce Aviation User Fees in June 2007. Proposed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, along with the then-ranking minority committee member Sen. Trent Lott, and wrapped up in Senate Bill S.1300. The airlines were all for this, because they saw an opportunity to deflect public scrutiny away from their intensely bad ways of managing their respective companies, while firing media shots at business and general aviation. This caused so much division within both houses of Congress that the FAA was put on probation starting in September 2007. Ever since then, the FAA has been on a month-to-month, and sometimes quarter-to-quarter basis for funding.

Failed attempt to introduce the Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP) in October 2008. This regulation would require all U.S. operators of aircraft (both Part 135 and 91) that exceed 12,500 pounds maximum take-off weight to implement security programs that would be subject to compliance audits by TSA. The proposed regulation would also require operators to verify that passengers are not on the No Fly and/or Selectee portions of the federal government's consolidated terrorist watch list.

Failed attempt to introduce an FAA Certified Repair Station (CRS) Security Plan in November 2009. Repair stations on and off airports are so different that it wouldn’t be possible to create a security plan and audit system to fit all of the stations. However, this plan required that all CRS facilities to implement security procedures and infrastructure such as access controls to the facility or aircraft, and a means to identify those who should have access to the facility. Additionally, there would have to be procedures established for challenging unauthorized people who are trying to get access to the facility, along with a security awareness training program for all employees.

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The Introduction of Plastic Airmen Certificates in April 2010. The paper to plastic conversion is in response to the Drug Enforcement Assistance Act of 1988, which directed the FAA to modify the system used to issue airmen certificates to help prevent abuses, including the use of counterfeit and stolen airman certificates, as well as the submission of unidentifiable names on aircraft registration applications.

Implementation of an Emissions Trading Scheme, with mandatory Annual Carbon Emissions Monitoring in September 2009. This European-mandated program is spearheaded by the ICAO and EASA and will lead to an Eventual Carbon Cap and Trade Program. At the close of its 37th assembly last Friday, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed to what it characterized as the first global approach to reducing air transport's impact on climate change. Under the resolution, ICAO committed to achieving a 2 percent annual fuel-efficiency improvement until 2050, as well as a global framework for the development and deployment of sustainable alternative aviation fuels and a world standard covering carbon dioxide limits for aircraft engines. The resolution also calls for the creation of a global market-based measures scheme. But with the ink barely dry on the document signed by the UN body's 190 member states, opinion remains divided as to whether the development weakens or strengthens the European Union's emissions trading scheme. The EU has always said it will exempt non-European operators from its ETS if its own national governments have implemented a comparable system. However, the EU has made it clear that it will not defer ETS implementation while it waits to see if such alternatives ever materialize.

 

Re-Registration and Registration Renewal of U.S. Aircraft in October 2010. Now all aircraft registrations will expire in the next three years, possibly as early as March 31, 2011.  The FAA has issued a final rule that took effect on October 1, 2010, that requires all aircraft owners to renew their registrations by December 31, 2013 and then re-register every three years thereafter.  The purpose of the rule is to maintain an accurate aircraft registry database; a goal not achieved by the Triennial Aircraft Registration Report.  The FAA estimates that one-third of the 357,000 aircraft registrations currently on file are inaccurate.  The FAA uses the database for ownership determination and response to an overdue flight or downed aircraft report.  Law enforcement and other government agencies use the database for their own purposes.  The federal register’s summary of the rule mentions inclusion of registry information and status on a display depicting each flight operating on a flight plan in the national airspace system.

Implementation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) International Standards of Business Aviation Organization (ISBAO) Safety Management System (SMS) Requirement mandated for enforcement, Nov. 18, 2010. While the FAA has filed a “difference” explaining that it does not have a formal safety management system (SMS) rule for aircraft operators, despite ICAO's Nov. 18 deadline, it is in the process of SMS rulemaking. The FAA is already sponsoring voluntary SMS implementation by Part 121, 135 and 145 organizations to provide learning and experience for both industry and the FAA in SMS development, implementation and oversight. The FAA is also considering SMS regulations for Part 135 operators and Part 145 repair stations. There are reports of Part 135 operators being denied entry into various international airports and/or airspace due to lack of an approved SMS manual and/or FOQA which stands for Flight Operations Quality Assurance; a flight-data analysis program has been an ICAO requirement since 2005. Starting on Nov. 19, 2010, Bermuda was the first nation to officially require that all foreign operators of business aircraft with an MGTOW of more than 12,500 pounds have an SMS and meet other requirements under ICAO Annex 6.2.3. For U.S. operators, this includes both Part 91 and 135 operators. Compliance with the ICAO annex is monitored by random ramp inspections at the L.F. Wade International Airport. Operators discovered to be not compliant will be refused entry to Bermuda until they can demonstrate compliance. Besides the precedent-setting SMS requirement, affected operators will also need an operations manual, fatigue management program, MMEL, Type 1A flight data recorder and crew microphone-based communication system. Additionally, aircraft with an MGTOW exceeding 59,400 pounds are required to have a Type 1 FDR and a cockpit voice recorder. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, French civil aviation authorities now require foreign operators to demonstrate they have an SMS and a FOQA program before they grant traffic rights. In fact, for the past two years, France’s aviation authority (DGAC) has mandated that foreign operators flying commercially or operating an aircraft weighing more than 27 metric tons (59,500 pounds) have a flight data analysis program (FDAP). The requirement is independent of any EASA regulation, with the DGAC maintaining it is enforcing ICAO standards. The EASA’s remit does not include foreign operator monitoring yet; the agency will manage technical authorizations (possibly including question forms) at the European level beginning in 2012. States will retain authority of commercial authorizations, such as traffic rights.

European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Proposition to eliminate Third-Country Aircrew and Aircraft Licensing validity, details released in October, 2010. If passed into law, the proposal would adversely affect U.S. flight schools that train foreign pilots, as well as pilots coming to the United States for training. Pilots who complete their flight training in the United States would be required to repeat the majority of their training upon their return to Europe. The FAA instrument rating would be considered useless in Europe. EASA has made no secret of the fact that it wants to get third country aircraft – and specifically the N-register – out of Europe by ensuring that there are no advantages to being on the N-register. The flight crew licensing proposal is only the first stage in EASA’s move against the N-register, with more to come in proposals on Operations in 2011.

 

Picture I.D. Requirements for Pilot Certificates. NPRM out for comment until Feb. 17, 2010. This proposal responds to section 4022 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA). The FAA previously required all pilots to obtain a plastic certificate (excepting temporary certificates and student pilot certificates). This proposal furthers the fulfilment of IRTPA by requiring a photo of the pilot to be on all pilot certificates. The new certificates shall remain valid for only 8 years, and then they must be replaced with a new one featuring a recent photograph. 

 

Part 25 Airworthiness Requirements Harmonization with EASA. NPRM out for comment until Feb. 17, 2010. The FAA tasked the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) through its Flight Test Harmonization Working Group to review existing regulations and recommend changes that would eliminate differences between the U.S. and European performance and handling characteristics standards by harmonizing to the higher standards. This proposed rule is a result of this harmonization effort.

 

Significant escalation in the frequency of occurrences, and the penalty amounts levied in fines against U.S. Operators and Businesses by the FAA. In light of the problems that the FAA has had in receiving a consistent operating budget from Congress, President Obama’s administration is more actively looking and willing to bring about civil penalties against the aviation industry. All money collected by the federal government goes into the general fund.

 

The U.S. aviation industry has lead the rest of the world for more than a century, and effectively it is this system that has firmly established the U.S.A. as the ideal model which has caused more than 75 percent of the world’s civil aircraft fleet to be based here. Maintaining a healthy, safe and prosperous aviation industry takes government support and funding. The lion's share of the costs of running this national transportation system, are eaten up by the air-traffic and navigational infrastructure. The need for a near autonomous, free-flowing and independent on-board traffic guidance, avoidance and clearance system has been on the FAA’s books for more than a decade now. They call it NextGen, while it has also been named “Free-Flight.”

Unfortunately we, the users of this system, are not able to make our voices heard, because the past two governments have chosen to strangle the FAA and force it to step down as the leader of aviation safety oversight, all because of the lack of a proper and appropriate funding budget.

In fact, the FAA’s FY 2010 portfolio of goals document states that: “There is no budget associated with this performance target, as the global support that the ATO provides in support of NextGen is assumed by the specific program offices or paid for by international civil aviation authorities or air navigation service providers through the execution of reimbursable bilateral technical assistance agreements. However, political will, cultures, foreign policy, and other government budgets can be significant factors in the success of the NextGen performance target.”

I worry that the U.S. aviation industry is being forced to the back of the ‘special bus’, thus allowing organizations like the ICAO and EASA to run amok with biased, politically based legislation that is calculated to seize the balance of power in aviation oversight – and ultimately cause the global aviation industry to contract due to the financial burdens that these socialist based systems shall levy against us all. Couple this trend with the willingness that governments have in using the spectre of terrorism as a means to further cheapen and ultimately enslave free societies; we are all in for a very dark future indeed.

 

The International Civil Airworthiness Organization (ICAO) and its subsidiary, the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), are both based in Montreal. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is based in Cologne. EASA has taken over from the Hoofddorp-based Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA.) The International Aircraft Registry (IAR) is based in Dublin, while the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) is still based in Washington, D.C. This all leaves me to wonder when the Federal Aviation Administration shall be disbanded and all governance moved to Cologne. It is time to start writing to our representatives in Washington, I think. What say you on this matter of sovereignty?

Is A U.S. Senator Subject To FAA Enforcement Action For Landing On A Closed Runway?

According to an Article in the Tulsa World, the United States Senator from Oklahoma, James Inhofe, landed his Cessna 340 on a closed runway at the Port Isabel-Cameron County Airport in Texas. At the time, the closed runway was marked with large X's to protect a crew that was working on the runway and a corresponding NOTAM regarding the runway closure had been issued.

The Senator stated that he only saw the X's about 20 seconds before he landed, which, according to him, was too late to change course. However, he was able to land on a part of the runway that was away from the location where the work was being performed. When asked about the NOTAM, the Senator stated "I did not know it because it was not given to me." Later, when the Senator wanted to leave, he used the airport's taxiway to take off.

What is interesting about this incident is that, after apparently notifying the FAA soon after landing and then talking with the FAA several days later, the Senator "expressed assurance that the agency will not take any action against him." I find that hard to believe.

Any other airman would be looking at an enforcement action alleging, at a minimum, violations of FARs 91.103 (requiring a pilot to become familiar with all available information concerning a flight), 91.139(c) (requiring compliance with a NOTAM) and 91.13(a) (careless and reckless) and seeking suspension of the airman's pilot certificate for a period of at least 30-90 days based upon FAA Order 2150.3B Appendix B (the FAA's Sanction Guidance Table).

[more]Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to encourage an enforcement action against the Senator. After all, he has always been a stalwart supporter of general aviation. Also, as we all know, stories reported in the media never include all of the facts. Perhaps the Senator has some viable defenses. However, it seems to me that the Senator should be subject to the same regulatory enforcement as every other airman. No more, no less.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens. If the FAA does pursue an enforcement action, I hope the Senator filed his NASA/ASRP Form, and hires a good aviation attorney to defend him!

FAA greenlights ADS-B conversion; security questions raised about its use in iPhone app


Planefinder.net

The FAA announced this week it is ready to go full scale with its implementation of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system to track aircraft. The agency expects the transition, which will give air-traffic controllers another tool to track aircraft, to be complete by 2013 and mandated by 2020.

As this development plays out, though, a smart phone application that allows the technology to track aircraft with a phone camera has come under fire from a British security official.

Patrick Mercer, former chair of the UK’s Parliamentary Counter Terrorism subcommittee, according to a Press Trust of India report, said terrorist could use an iPhone application to locate and target an in-flight aircraft for an missile attack.

“Anything that makes it easier for our enemies to find targets is madness,” he reportedly said.

The article also mentions, without specifics, that the Department of Homeland Security also “is investigating how to protect aircraft from attacks.”

This line of thought has its critics as well, however. Marcus Yam, writing for the technology web site TomsGuide.com, commented smarmily: “Next thing he’ll go after are telescopes and binoculars.”

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Louisville pilot Robert Patterson said as much this week to us. He hosts an ADS-B receiver on the system used by PlaneFinder.net, which sells the smart phone application.

Louisville International Airport (SDF) was chosen by the FAA as a test site for the system largely due to the UPS fleet that flies cargo into and out of the city daily. Patterson, an aviation enthusiast who does similar hosting for LiveATC.net, said he has enjoyed using the new technology and thinks it should be there for others.

“(It's) Innocent,” he tweeted to us on about the tracking system, after we posted a link to the initial criticism on our Twitter feed.

In a follow-up phone interview, Patterson noted that the tracking data broadcast by the receivers is easy to come across. Anyone can buy and connect one to a laptop via USB for about $700.

“If they can afford an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade), the price of the (ADS-B) antenna probably isn’t going to stop them,” he said.

The only difference between having it on a highly mobile laptop versus a smart phone app, he said, is the price.

Patterson said it would be a disservice to the aviation community to block access to the applications, which cost around $5, as many who would enjoy following flights in their neighborhoods might not opt for the pricier antennas. At least one aviation authority agrees, it seems.

Yam also notes in his report that “the UK Department of Transport doesn’t seem that worried, though, as it said, ‘This application might be new but the ability to track aircraft isn’t.”

How else are we going to have fun with aircraft when we are stuck on the ground?

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