Federal Judge Sentences Pilot to Fly

In a unique ruling, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang sentenced pilot, Thomas Leroy Hauptman, to donate 500 hours of flight time as restitution for violations of the Lacey Act.  Mr. Hauptman estimates that the flight time will cost him approximately $500,000, a sentence that he called, “expensive but fair”.  Local news coverage indicates that Mr. Hauptman pleaded guilty to illegally transporting deer and mouflon rams between Maui and the mainland island of Hawaii.  The Lacey Act, which dates back to 1900, is designed to protect native species by prohibiting the introduction of non-native species into an ecosystem.

In addition to FARs, pilots should always be cognizant of laws, regulations, and rules which regulate flight activities, including the transportation of cargo and live animals.  Although Mr. Haputman might not have violated any Federal Aviation Regulations, he did illegally transport wild animals which resulted in a hefty fine.  Before departing on flights involving the transportation of passengers, cargo, or animals, pilots should consult with an experienced aviation attorney who can research and advise them on any applicable laws governing the trip.

FAA Proposes to Consolidate Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs

In a recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FAA has proposed revisions to the current drug and alcohol testing requirements under Parts 121 and 135.  Currently, Part 121 and Part 135 operators who are conducting commercial air tour operations must implement separate drug and alcohol testing programs as if each operation is conducted by different companies.  The FAA proposes to allow air carrier operators and commuter or on-demand operators that also conduct commercial air tour operations to combine the drug and alcohol testing required for each operation into one testing program.  The proposal would give Part 121 and Part 135 operators the option to combine their drug and alcohol testing programs with the program for a Part 91 commercial air tour operation.

While the efficiencies created by the proposed rule are clear, ambiguity exists regarding penalties for violators.  It appears that the FAA seeks to remove offending employees from “performing for an employer the safety-sensitive duties the employee performed before such violation.”  However, the intent and details of such removal are unclear.  As with any regulatory shift impacting operations, air carriers should contact experienced legal counsel regarding any change of company policies or procedures.