Air 21: The Rest of the Story
It's what you don't know about it!
By Stephen P. Prentice
Like the famous commentator says ..."here's the rest of the story..."
Funding the FAA
Air 21 is the generally accepted name of the legislation, recently passed in the 106th Congress on April 5, 2000 as Public Law 106-181. Many referred to this law or at least part of it, as the "Hoover Bill." This was in honor of Bob Hoover, who we all remember was raked over the coals by FAA regarding a medical problem. Relevant to his problems, a small section of the bill deals with appeals of emergency revocations and suspensions.
The bill is officially titled "The Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Bill for the 21st Century." A very official sounding piece of legislation that is basically the money source for the FAA for the next several years. However, it was also the vehicle to accomplish many other things that included, as mentioned, the procedural relief from Bob Hoover-type emergency revocation of certificates.
Hoover Bill (Title 49 USC 44709e(3)Emergency Actions by the Administrator
The Hoover Bill part has to do with having a shot at challenging the FAA's determination that an "emergency" exists in regard to revocation or suspension of your airman, air carrier or repair station certificate. It's only a very small section of this large bill but it provides a significant procedural protection for airmen and operators faced with emergency action by the FAA. This summary power in the hands of FAA is a formidable weapon used to force the affected parties to give up and give in to the FAA action. There never was a way to challenge whether or not an emergency really existed. (In many cases, there were none!) The procedure now is that you can appeal directly to the NTSB on the single issue of whether or not an "emergency" exists at all. As written, you must do this within 48 hours of receipt of the order of suspension or revocation! This, as we all should know, is a key finding in the matter and controls to a large extent whether you win or lose.
A person may petition for a review by the Board (NTSB) the Administrator's determination that an emergency exists. Such review shall be requested not later than 48 hours after the order is received by the person. If the Board finds that an emergency does not exist that requires immediate application of the Order...the Order shall be stayed. The Board shall review the request not later than 5 days after the date on which the request is filed.
Take note that if you suspect an emergency order of suspension or revocation will come down on you, take immediate steps to start preparing your petition for review. This is a tall order. You must convince the Board with a paper pleading, that there is no reason for immediate emergency action on the part of the Administrator.
This part of Air 21 was the good news. Now for the bad news. A prominent part of this law is a real sleeper that we all better be aware of. It deals with the bogeyman of "bogus parts" or more formally, suspected unapproved parts, (SUPs).
Parts . . . again
We have all seen how parts manufacturer's and brokers around the country have been prosecuted by the Feds for peddling phony parts or parts that were unairworthy salvage parts. Remember "scary" Mary Schiavo? She went on forever about the subject. If parts were found to be fraudulently produced, charges were filed and people went to jail. In one case, a guy committed suicide rather than face the music. The thing to be noticed is that the FAA could not prosecute these cases directly. The U.S. Attorney and the Justice Department or the DOT Inspector General took all the glory. Politics sometimes got in the way of justice.
Well, what to do about this? The FAA must protect its fiefdom and turf. Very simple. Make some new laws that the FAA can use to prosecute people involved with parts directly. Air 21 made the laws and what is being proposed as regulations are thought by many to open floodgates that will threaten prosecution for all who sell and or distribute parts.
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