In a recent proposal, the FAA set forth its plan to take back a Class C airspace exclusion extending from the surface up to 2,400 feet MSL, which extends in a 1.5 NM radius around the former Cornelia Fort Airpark. Although Cornelia ceased operations last year, the Class C exclusion remains approximately 4 NM north of Nashville International Airport (KBNA). The only reason cited by the FAA for removing the Class C airspace exclusion is that “it would restore the Class C surface area to the standard configuration of a 5 NM radius around Nashville International Airport and would enhance the management of aircraft operations at the airport.” However, the FAA failed to cite any current issue with the management of aircraft around KBNA which would necessitate removing the current exclusion. Public comments regarding this proposal must be received by April 1, 2013.
The National Transportation Safety Board has issued its final rule amending provisions of its rules of practice pertaining to the review of FAA emergency certificate actions. Acting on comments submitted to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the NTSB modified its rules of practice (49 CFR 821) to require a law judge to permit evidence pertaining to the propriety of the FAA’s decision to proceed against the certificate holder on an emergency basis. Although the NTSB declined to change its rule requiring its administrative law judges to “assume the truth” of the FAA’s factual allegations in emergency certificate actions, allowing respondents to submit evidence as to the appropriateness of the FAA’s decision to proceed on an emergency basis is encouraging.
In support of its decision not to back down from its “assume the truth” standard of review, the NTSB cited the statutory time constraints applicable to emergency cases, which require it to render decisions on emergent cases within five days. With only four administrative law judges, the NTSB claims that it cannot effectively hold hearings and render full decisions on the merits within the short time frame required for emergency actions.
Appealing an emergency order of suspension or other adverse certificate action can be an overwhelming process, which should not be undertaken alone. Contacting an experienced aviation attorney immediately after receiving notice of such an action can make all the difference. Don’t delay!