Tag: FAA

The FAA and NTSB vs. Common Sense: Part Deux

by Charlton (Chuck) Stanley, weekend writer

FAA logoLast August, I wrote a blog post entitled The FAA and NTSB vs. Common Sense. The reader can save time by going back and reading that post at the link, because it sets out the main premises of this article.

The FAA has been under growing pressure from all segments of the aviation community to relax the standards for a Third Class medical certificate. This pressure has come from recreational pilots, manufacturers of aircraft and aircraft components, small airport operators, and small businesses. Part of the reason for this pressure is that general aviation is slowly dying.

When the FAA was created, their primary mission was to promote aviation. That includes making it safe and affordable for the flying public. However, the FAA, being bureaucrats who hate to give up power and control once it is in their grasp, asked for comments on a proposed rule change.

That was back in 2009. The initial proposal was denied in 2010. The proposed rule was resurrected, but the FAA has been slow-walking the changes–for more than five years. There has been virtually no progress toward doing away with the Third Class Medical certificate.
Last year, while being questioned, FAA officials made some vague concessions, but would not be specific.

Instead of promoting aviation, I have come to the conclusion that some segments of the FAA resemble a certain character in the Dilbert comic strip; Mordac, the Preventer of Information Services, also known as Mordac the Refuser.

Exasperated, several members of the bipartisan House and Senate Aviation Caucus introduced H.R. 3708: The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act of 2013 (GAPPA). S2103, an identical measure, was introduced in the Senate.

This year, we have a new Congress, and the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act 2 was introduced in the House (H.R. 1062) and the Senate (S.571) last Thursday, Feb. 25, 2015. GAPPA-2 will protect general aviation pilots from liability on charitable flights, extend legal protections to FAA representatives, and require FAA contractors to provide information under Freedom of Information Act requests.

A group of aviation industry leaders sent identical letters to the Senators and Representatives who introduced the GAPPA-2 bills in Congress this week.

Continue reading “The FAA and NTSB vs. Common Sense: Part Deux”

FAA makes medical certification rule mandating sleep apnea testing.

By Charlton Stanley, Weekend Writer

FAA logoLast year, in a virtually unprecedented move, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Aerospace Medicine ordered that all pilots who applied for a medical certificate would have their Body Mass Index (BMI) calculated. If the BMI was 40 or greater, a sleep study became mandatory in order for the medical certificate to be granted. In other words, the pilot has to prove he or she does not have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

This announcement of new rules bypassed completely a request for comments from the public, which is mandated by law. One day the rule did not exist, the next day there was a new rule requiring horrendously expensive and intrusive testing by a board certified specialist in sleep studies.

It got worse. The policy, published in the Federal Air Surgeon’s Medical Bulletin, Vol. 51, No. 4, goes on to say, “Airman applicants with a BMI of 40 or more will have to be evaluated by a physician who is a board certified sleep specialist, and anyone who is diagnosed with OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) will have to be treated before they can be medically certificated.” The kicker? The order makes it clear the standard will eventually be expanded to include pilots with an even lower BMI, whether they have any history of daytime sleepiness or sleep disorder. The order is based on BMI alone.

The FAA does not provide any accident or statistical data to justify this extraordinary rulemaking at all. Why? Because there isn’t any.

Continue reading “FAA makes medical certification rule mandating sleep apnea testing.”

The FAA vs. Model Airplanes

By Charlton Stanley, weekend writer

FAA logoAlmost everyone likes model airplanes. Kids and adults have been building model flying machines for centuries. In fact, the Wright brothers experimented with model helicopters as well as fixed wing airplanes. I built my first model when I was nine years old. It was a Guillow’s kit of a Grumman TBF Avenger, the same plane flown by Lt. George H. W. Bush during WW-2. It is amazing to me the same kit is still in production, although a bit more pricey than when my dad bought mine.

When Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, they carved out an exemption for model airplanes and aeromodeling in general. As passed by Congress, §336 prohibits the FAA from promulgating any new rule or regulation regarding model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft …” The law does specify that certain requirements must be met for an aircraft to qualify as a model airplane. However, that did not deter the FAA in its quest to amass more power over anything that can get off the ground higher than the Administrator can jump. After all, the space between the trees in your backyard, the local park, or your model flying club IS airspace, and they see their job as controlling airspace, dammit! All of it.

Continue reading “The FAA vs. Model Airplanes”

The FAA and NTSB vs. Common Sense and (a few members) of Congress — Updated.

By Charlton Stanley, weekend writer

FAA logoThe Federal Aviation Administration issues medical certificates for pilots. There are three levels of medical certificates. Class I, Class II and Class III. The most stringent is the Class I. That is an extremely rigorous medical standard, and must be renewed every six months. This level of certification is for Air Transport Pilots who haul airliners full of passengers. The Class II is for all other commercial pilots. Not as stringent as Class I, but still quite high standards. The Class III medical is for private pilots, and is good for two years. The Class III medical examination is still a strict examination. One of the requirements is to fill out a list of EVERY doctor’s visit not already reported.  That means every visit to your family doctor for anything from a runny nose or worse. Do as I did a couple of weeks ago. Gashed my thumb on a piece of glass, and went to the emergency room for some stitches. Required to report that? Oh, yes indeed!

That application form is submitted to the FAA “Under Penalty of Perjury,” so errors of both commission and omission can and do result in draconian penalties.  One thing that sets off alarms at the FAA is a visit to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Many veterans have not sought treatment for combat related stress problems for fear of losing their license. I know a number of former Vietnam and Desert Storm combat pilots whom I suspect suffer from untreated PTSD in silence because they know if they see a VA psychologist or psychiatrist, a PTSD diagnosis is a license killer.  Yet, some of these pilots have been flying safely since the 1960s.

The requirements for passing a Third Class medical are the least strict, but are nevertheless stringent, especially if the pilot reports having sought mental health counseling.

Several years ago, in 2004, the FAA created a new class of pilot called Sport Pilot. Sport Pilots and are not required to have a Third Class medical certificate. A current and valid driver’s license will suffice. A Sport Pilot’s license is required to fly a light sport aircraft (LSA), but doesn’t need a medical certificate. A state issued driver’s license is sufficient. A Sport Pilot may not fly aircraft exceedomg the limits set by the LSA rule.

Continue reading “The FAA and NTSB vs. Common Sense and (a few members) of Congress — Updated.”

The Future of Privacy, or is the Genie Out of the Bottle for All Time?

Submitted by Charlton Stanley (Otteray Scribe), guest blogger

FAA logoThis story started out in one place and ended somewhere else.  I had been thinking about privacy issues for some time. A friend of mine, a forensic psychologist, like so many professionals, has gone to a (mostly) paperless office. Instead of taking a thick bulky file to court when called on to testify, he takes one dedicated laptop. As all our attorneys and anyone else who has had to testify as an expert knows, if you take your files to court, opposing attorneys are allowed to examine anything brought to the witness stand, such as the contents of a briefcase.  My friend was concerned that he did not want anyone to rummage through his private files and other client files if he brought his regular laptop. So he bought an inexpensive laptop. When he goes to court, he simply downloads the files for that one case, as well as any emails associated with the case. That way he has everything at his fingertips, and counsel opposite can look at everything in that little laptop without compromising privacy or violating HIPAA rules.

A few days ago, he and I were discussing smart phones.  Because of a recent article in the news, the question came up of who owns your cell phone if you use it for business purposes.  Almost everyone I know uses their personal cell phone in relation to their employment. Texting, emails and file storage of all kinds. Suppose the employer is sued, and either the plaintiff or the defense attorney demands all cell phones used in the business be rounded up for evidence in discovery? What does one do in a case where your employer tells you to turn in your personal cell phone, and you may not delete anything, lest you be accused of spoliation of evidence.? Your employer and all the parties are now privy to your personal emails, photos and possibly even all your passwords. Furthermore, you may or may not get your $300+ smart phone back, and if you do, it may take weeks or months.  You may find your memory card gone or erased if you ever do get it back.

That led me to thinking about the broader issue of privacy and new technology, especially regarding drones. Drones have been a hot item in the news recently. There has been as much misinformation as information, and I wanted to set some of the record straight. This story is probably going to scare some people. I must admit, I am a bit nervous about this new technology and the future of privacy myself the more I learn about research projects in the works.

Continue reading “The Future of Privacy, or is the Genie Out of the Bottle for All Time?”

Whose Airspace Is It? When the media gets it wrong.

Submitted by Charlton Stanley, guest blogger
(Otteray Scribe)
ImageThis is my first post as a Guest Blogger. I am honored and humbled to be invited to post at one of the most respected legal opinion blogs on the ‘net. I will try to maintain the high standards already set by the heavy hitters already posting here. Thank you, Professor Turley, and all the other guest bloggers and regulars here. I have been posting here and on other blogs under the username Otteray Scribe. Otteray is the Cherokee name for the Blue Ridge Mountains where I live. When in the fourth grade, I learned about the scribes of old Europe. The idea of someone actually having a job writing things down for people who were illiterate fascinated me. My username combined two of my favorite words. Blue Ridge writer. That’s me.

Just a bit of background about me. I am a forensic psychologist with about 41 years of trying to get it right. I am passionate about my work, aviation, photography and my family. Other interests include law enforcement and corrections. In future stories, I plan to write about all those subjects. Hopefully, over the past four decades I learned a few things worth sharing.

For my first effort, I wanted to focus on how people who know little of aviation get a news story, and then mangle it into something that it is not. This is not new. There was a time not long ago when any kind of general aviation airplane crashed, it was described in the press as a, “Piper Cub.” Cubs are seldom seen these days, so that descriptor has evolved to a, “small Cessna.” Perhaps this story will set the record straight, and tamp down some of the ‘Hair-On-Fire’ hyperbole about flight restrictions over the oil spill in Arkansas. This environmental disaster is personal to me. At one time, I lived and worked only a few miles from Mayflower, and have flown in and out of the Conway airport many times.

Misinformation, hyperbole and conspiracy theories have been rampant about the flight restrictions around the oil spill at Mayflower, Arkansas. The problem started when local news media referred to Exxon-Mobil getting the FAA to establish a “no-fly” zone around the oil spill. To be clear, this is a completely different issue than what is happening on the ground. Links to some of those stories are at the end of this piece.

Continue reading “Whose Airspace Is It? When the media gets it wrong.”