April 27, 2013
Past President Charlie Finkel to Bike from LA to Boston in Support of Angel Flight
Two of Charlie Finkel's passions in life are flying and bicycling. He is combining the two in an effort to raise money for Angel Flight West. AFW covers 13 western states, and is aligned with other air care organizations throughout the United States. Charlie Finkel is serving his second stint as a Board member for AFW, a wonderful organization which has been awarded a Four Star Rating by Charity Navigator.
AFW’s primary mission is to arrange for air transportation, free of charge, to those with compelling human needs. On missions for Angel Flight, Charlie has flown cancer patients, burned children, wounded soldiers, and others with a wide variety of needs. Charlie has a particular affinity for the burn victims, having spent two months suffering in a burn ward himself, and then having to overcome the hurdles of rehabilitation.
Now, at 62, Charlie is about to embark on a “bucket list” adventure of riding his bicycle from Los Angeles to Boston between May 12th and June 28th - approximately 3,400 miles. His ride across America will honor Angel Flight West. With a custom jersey advertising AFW, Charlie will bring the good work of this organization, and all other Air Care Alliance member organizations, to the attention of those with whom he comes in contact.
If you would like to help Charlie celebrate this journey, consider pledging a per mile donation to Angel Flight West, be it $1.00, 10cents, or even a penny per mile. It all adds up, and will help AFW continue with its mission. You can visit the website at angelflightwest.org, where you can learn more about what we do, and how others are helped. There is information about Charlie's ride on the website. Donations can be made by contacting AFW either through email at CharliesRide@angelflightwest.org, or by calling 310.398.6123, Ext. 110.
January 8, 2009
Congratulations to LPBA Past President Marty Weiss
Q&A: Pilot helps fly needy animals to better lifeBy EMILY GROVES Norwich Bulletin Posted Jan 07, 2009 @ 12:13 AM
Step into Martin Weiss’ law office at Weiss & Associates in Danielson and the numerous airplane photographs and magazines quickly identify his hobby.
Congratulations to LPBA Member Greg Winton!
NTSB Reverses FAA Revocation Order Issued Against Air Trek
Tue, 21 Oct '08
30-year Air Ambulance Operator Wins Against FAA
An NTSB Administrative Law Judge, William Pope, has issued an oral initial decision reversing an Emergency Order issued by the FAA on June 10, 2008. The Emergency Order revoked the Air Carrier Certificate held by Air Trek, Inc., an air ambulance operator based in Punta Gorda, FL. The nine (9) day hearing took place during three separate sessions over a five week period.
According to Legal Counsel for Air Trek, Inc., the case initially began five months ago on May 23, 2008, when the FAA first issued an Emergency Order indefinitely suspending Air Trek's Air Carrier Certificate pending compliance with the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). Prior to the suspension, Air Trek had been in operation for 30 years with no violation history. On May 24, 2008, Air Trek retained counsel and immediately appealed the suspension order.
On June 5, 2008, less than two weeks following the emergency suspension, and while litigation was in progress, FAA attorney Brendan Kelly, Esq., ordered a surprise inspection of Air Trek's Punta Gorda facility for the stated purpose of obtaining additional evidence to "push the case from suspension to revocation." When two FAA inspectors arrived at Air Trek's facility unannounced, the company had already ceased operation and surrendered its Air Carrier Certificate pursuant to the emergency order. Accordingly, the FAA inspectors stated that they were going to inspect aircraft and records pursuant to 14 C.F.R. Part 91 only.
Since the company had already retained counsel concerning the suspension, Air Trek's Director of Operations, Dana Carr, suggested that the FAA inspectors wait at a nearby airport diner while he contacted his attorney. However, before Air Trek's attorney could coordinate an inspection, the inspectors reported to Mr. Carr that they had been instructed by the Special Emphasis Inspection Team (SEIT) leader to abort the inspection and return to home base. Although the inspection never took place, the FAA withdrew its suspension order and issued an Emergency Order of Revocation instead.
The law judge found that since Mr. Carr had initially suggested that the FAA inspectors leave Air Trek's facility while he attempted to contact his attorney, a technical violation of 14 C.F.R. section 119.59 had occurred (i.e., refusal to allow an inspection). However, he stated that any apparent violation was "de minimus" (i.e., "of minimum importance" or "trifling") and did not warrant revocation.
By the fourth day of the hearing, the FAA had withdrawn 6 of the 10 Counts in the revocation order and dismissed 9 of the 14 regulatory violations. At the termination of the hearing, the remaining two findings of violation by the law judge related only to flight operations that occurred at Air Trek's Winchester, Virginia (OKV) base of operations, which had been closed since January 2007 (more than 1 1/2 years prior to issuance of the revocation order).
Specifically, the law judge found that the Winchester pilots did not follow the company's Operations Specifications and General Operations Manual concerning the reporting of mechanical irregularities and calculation of weight and balance. As a result, the law judge found a violation of 14 C.F.R. sections 119.5(g) (i.e., violation of operations specifications), and a residual violation of 91.13(a). These findings were limited to the Winchester pilot operations only.
Throughout his decision, the law judge credited testimony from Wayne Carr, Air Trek's President and Chief Pilot, finding that regulatory violations by the Winchester pilots were not "directed, caused, or permitted" by management. As a result, the FAA did not present evidence to support a finding that Air Trek "lacks the qualifications necessary to hold an Air Carrier Certificate", as alleged in the revocation order. By contrast, the law judge found the testimony of former Winchester pilots, Garrett Lunde and John Roberts, to be unreliable. He found that both pilots were obviously biased against Air Trek's management, and therefore, were not credible.
The current practices of Air Trek pilots to report mechanical irregularities either verbally or by placing a hand written note in a vice located in the maintenance shop, as well as the use of an Excel computer program to calculate weight and balance, were found to be in accordance with the company's Operations Specifications, General Operations Manual, and the Federal Aviation Regulations.
The judge held that the FAA failed to present any evidence that aircraft were actually operated in an unairworthy condition, as alleged throughout the revocation order. Nevertheless, he ordered that Air Trek's certificate be suspended until the company provides adequate safeguards to ensure ongoing future compliance with the Federal Aviation Regulations.
Air Trek was represented by Gregory S. Winton, Esq. of Aviation Law Experts, LLC, along with co-counsel, Darol H.M. Carr, Esq. of the Farr Law Firm located in Punta Gorda, FL.
According to Mr. Winton, "this case is just another example of an inadequate FAA investigation leading to protracted litigation without substantial justification. In fact, during the hearing the law judge described certain allegations as 'absurd'." As a result, Air Trek will apply for reimbursement of attorney fees and expenses pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA).
FAA Ordered to Pay Attorney Fees and Expenses
September 3, 2008
WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The Chief Administrative Law Judge of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ordered the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to pay two corporate pilots $12,475.00 for attorney fees and expenses pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA") 49 C.F.R., section 826.1 et. seq. (NTSB Docket Nos. 331-EAJA-SE-18212 and 332-EAJA-SE-18213). Pursuant to the EAJA, the FAA shall award to the prevailing party, fees and other expenses incurred, unless the agency was substantially justified. By Order dated August 29, 2008, the Chief Judge stated that "the agency proceeded on a weak and tenuous basis with a flawed investigation bereft of any meaningful evidence against applicants, this highlights the lack of substantial justification not having a reasonable basis in both law and fact. Therefore, applicants' application for attorney fees and expenses must be granted." The EAJA award followed a withdrawal of the suspension orders issued against the Airline Transport Pilot Certificates of two Learjet pilots.
The FAA initially alleged that operation of an aircraft "without the two-place divan installed" rendered the aircraft unairworthy. The FAA further alleged that the aircraft was operated "when the ELT (emergency locator transmitter) was not operational." As a result, the pilots were charged with a violation of 14 C.F.R. sections 91.7(a) (operation of an unairworthy aircraft); 91.207(a)(2) (operation without an operable emergency locator transmitter); and 91.13(a) (operating an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner).
Prior to the flight, the Captain of the Learjet 60 model aircraft contacted the FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) in Albuquerque, NM, in order to determine the proper procedure for removal of the divan. The Captain was told by the FAA inspector to consult an airframe & powerplant (A&P) mechanic with Inspection Authorization to have the seat removed. Accordingly, a duly authorized A&P mechanic removed the divan, recalculated the weight and balance of the aircraft, and prepared a maintenance record returning the aircraft to service. Upon arrival at Teterboro, NJ, local FAA inspectors determined that removal of the divan was in violation of the regulations, alleging that a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) was required.
While at Teterboro, another A&P mechanic removed the ELT and performed a battery inspection. The battery failed a bench test and a new battery was ordered. While awaiting arrival of the new battery, the old battery was placed back into the aircraft and the mechanic prepared a maintenance record for the work performed. The FAA alleged that operation of the aircraft without the new ELT battery installed was a violation of the regulations.
On March 21, 2008, the FAA filed a complaint against each of the pilots. The cases were consolidated and a hearing was scheduled for August 19, 2008. A related case was brought against the owner of the aircraft seeking a $9,900.00 civil penalty. On June 17, 2008, the FAA withdrew its civil penalty case. Three days later, the FAA withdrew all charges against the pilots.
The pilots and aircraft owner were represented by Gregory Winton, a former FAA senior trial attorney, who has been practicing aviation law for the past 19 years. Winton is the President of Aviation Law Experts, LLC (http://www.AviationLawExperts.com), a national law practice and consulting firm based in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. According to Winton, "the FAA has once again wasted valuable agency resources prosecuting frivolous enforcement actions." Since 2005, Winton has received seven (7) EAJA awards against the FAA on behalf of his clients.