Monthly Archives: September 2015

CONGRESS EXTENDS FAA FUNDING; PREVENTS GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

The United States Senate and U.S. House of Representatives voted yesterday to adopt H.R. 3614, the Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2015, which is a stopgap measure to extend the current programs and policies of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through March 31, 2016. Without this action, the FAA’s current authorization, which expires on September 30, 2015, would have lapsed, likely resulting in a government shutdown. Many had expected Congress to conclude a long-term FAA bill by September 30, 2015 that addressed contentious issues such as air traffic control reform and passenger facility charges, but Congress was unable to do so. With passage by Congress, the bill now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign the measure into law. Congressional leaders anticipate that with this extra time they will be able to develop a final long-term FAA reauthorization bill that will gain support in both the House and Senate.

If you have any questions, please contact Evelyn Sahr (esahr@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6622), Drew Derco (dderco@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6665), or Reese Davidson (rdavidson@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6633).

FAA PROPOSES CIVIL PENALTIES

  • $380,600 against Leading Edge Aviation Services, an aircraft repair station, for allegedly violating drug and alcohol testing regulations.  The FAA alleges that the company hired 29 individuals for safety-sensitive positions but did not include them in the company’s random drug and alcohol testing pools as required.  Also, Leading Edge did not ask 18 employees in safety-sensitive positions about their DOT pre-employment drug or alcohol testing at other companies they had applied to for safety-sensitive positions in the past two years.  The FAA also alleges that the company hired 6 individuals for safety-sensitive prior to receiving verified negative pre-employment tests and finally, the company improperly used DOT forms to document drug tests.
  • $325,000 against Southwest Airlines for allegedly operating an aircraft that was not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.  During an aging aircraft inspection, an FAA inspector found that Southwest improperly recorded a temporary repair to the aircraft’s rear cargo door as a permanent repair  This fuselage damage was initially reported in Southwest’s maintenance records in May of 2002 and the temporary repair was made.  Southwest was required to complete a permanent repair within 24,000 flights and inspect the temporary repair every 4,000 flights.  The FAA alleges Southwest operated the aircraft on 24,831 flights without the required periodic inspections and operated the plane beyond the 24,000 flights without performing a permanent repair.

If you have any questions, please contact Evelyn Sahr (esahr@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6622), Drew Derco (dderco@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6665), or Reese Davidson (rdavidson@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6633).

FAA PROPOSES HAZMAT PENALTIES AGAINST FOUR COMPANIES

The FAA recently proposed civil penalties ranging from $54,000 to $63,000 against four companies for allegedly violating the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).  In each case, the FAA alleged certain shipments were not accompanied by shipping papers to indicate the hazardous nature of their contents and were improperly marked, labeled or packed. The FAA further alleged that the affected companies failed to provide emergency response information and ensure their employees had received required training in packaging and shipping hazardous materials.

  • $63,000 against Sherwin-Williams Company for offering for shipment aboard a FedEx flight 10 cans of flammable paint.  The shipment was discovered leaking by FedEx employees at a sorting facility.
  • $63,000 against Rock Water Energy Solutions for offering for shipment aboard an Envoy Airlines passenger flight five spray cans of flammable aerosol paint in a checked baggage.  The cans released paint in the cargo hold.
  • $58,350 against Buschur Racing for offering for shipment aboard a UPS flight 10 cans of flammable aerosol spray.  The shipment was discovered at a UPS sorting facility.
  • $54,000 against X-Chem, LLC for offering for shipment aboard a FedEx flight five bottles of flammable liquids and one bottle of corrosive material.

If you have any questions, please contact Evelyn Sahr (esahr@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6622), Drew Derco (dderco@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6665), or Reese Davidson (rdavidson@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6633).

CONGRESSIONAL BILL ON CBP PRECLEARANCE ADVANCES IN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 998, the Preclearance Authorization Act, by voice vote. The Act provides specific requirements that must be met and reviewed by Congress before CBP can establish more preclearance and other customs facilities outside of the U.S. Currently, CBP plans to open facilities in nine more countries.

Under the Act, plans for preclearance facilities must be submitted to Congress for approval. Congress is then charged with assessing the potential benefits, costs, security vulnerabilities and impacts on U.S. air carriers and workers.

In addition, the Act requires CBP to measure the average entry processing time at the 25 U.S. airports with the highest volume on a monthly basis. If those processing times are longer than the processing times at preclearance facilities, CBP will be required to submit a remediation plan and implement it in order to reduce such processing times. If CBP does not submit such a plan within the prescribed time frame, CBP will be barred from conducting negotiations with interested countries or opening new preclearance facilities.

CBP recently identified ten foreign airports as possible sites for future preclearance locations: Brussels Airport, Belgium; Punta Cana Airport, Dominican Republic; Narita International Airport, Japan; Amsterdam Airport Schipol, Netherlands; Oslo Airport, Norway; Madrid-Barajas Airport, Spain; Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Sweden; Istanbul Ataturk Airport, Turkey; and London Heathrow Airport and Manchester Airport, United Kingdom.

The bill next goes to the Senate for review.

If you have any questions, please contact Evelyn Sahr (esahr@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6622), Drew Derco (dderco@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6665), or Reese Davidson (rdavidson@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6633).

DOT TARMAC DELAY CONSENT ORDER

Spirit Airlines, Inc. was fined $100,000 for violating the Department’s tarmac delay rules, 14 C.F.R. Part 259 and 49 U.S.C. § 41712 and 42301.  On July 17, 2014, a Spirit flight was diverted to Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) while en route from Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI) to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) due to severe weather at DFW.  The aircraft was parked at a hardstand at IAH for 2 hours and 42 minutes.  The investigation revealed that 1 hour and 57 minutes into the delay, flight attendants began selling food and beverages to the passengers aboard the flight. The aircraft took off 51 minutes later – three hours and 38 minutes into the delay.  Approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes later, when the aircraft reached 10,000 feet, flight attendants distributed the food and water that was part of Spirit’s tarmac delay kit.  The investigation found passengers were not offered snacks within the required two hour mark.

If you have any questions, please contact Evelyn Sahr (esahr@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6622), Drew Derco (dderco@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6665), or Reese Davidson (rdavidson@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6633).