The FAA appealed this decision to the full NTSB board and the judge was reversed by the board. They said in this case that the “additional burdens imposed on the mechanics by requiring that they be retested do not outweigh the Administrator’s interest in ensuring that unqualified individuals not be allowed to perform maintenance on aircraft.”
It is interesting to note that both of the judges at the local level who actually heard the testimony of the parties, believed that they had a legitimate grievance. The FAA always relies on the appellate level judges to back their position, even though the appellate level relies only on the paper transcripts of the trial proceeding. They were not there and heard no testimony.
A Reasonable Solution?
The mechanics involved here, for the most part, are probably involved in industry as mechanics somewhere. As those of us in the business know, no new mechanics are given any sort of solo authority such that they could be a serious threat to air safety. The structure of the business is designed to provide for re-inspection of most if not all of general mechanics work. Inspectors are an integral part of the repair process. So, why not let the individual mechanics in this case be certified further by their employers. They could state that as far as they are concerned their employee does not pose a significant risk to air safety as a result of having attended a school that was found to be doing something wrong. Most of the mechanics, more likely than not, have been properly examined and therefore should be cut some slack. The FAA should realize that this reasonable solution would relieve her inspectors of the testing work and therefore allow them to do other work more efficiently. We are told of course that the inspectors are all so overburdened with work these days . . . Right.
This process could save the FAA a ton of time and energy and allow for the rapid certification of the mechanics concerned. Any comments? . . .
After completing this article I noted another Order of the district court had been entered which was unusual.
It seems that another case titled Allison, et al., vs. FAA & Marion C. Blakey, involving the same issues, came before the same judge. On Dec. 21, 2005 she issued an Order that stated the same decision as was issued in the Seacrest case that was appealed to the Circuit Court of Appeals and was reversed. In the first case the Appellate Court ordered that Seacrest be dismissed. However, there is a period of time after this order is entered that must pass before it can become final. Namely, a “mandate” from the appellate court must be delivered to the district court judge. This “mandate” is a return of jurisdiction to the district court judge so that she can dismiss it, in accord with the Order.
In her order the district court judge stated that there was no substantial difference between the cases and that the mandate had not yet arrived, therefore she would impose the same injunction and order as was issued in Seacrest. (Which was not yet final.)
The district court judge on Dec. 21, 2005, had not yet received a mandate making the case “final,” therefore she would treat both cases the same way. By the time you read this I believe that the decision in Seacrest will be final and that will end the story. Allison likely will also be dismissed for the same reasons.
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