The Standard Of Truth

The National Transportation Safety Board’s appeals process is going electronic.  But  industry groups has hoped that rules to permit electronic filing would serve as an opportunity to change a key standard used for the agency’s review of  certain FAA enforcement actions. 


NTSB denied the request of several general aviation groups to abandon its practice of assuming that FAA’s allegations are true for initial emergency enforcement appeals.  These appeals are to determine whether FAA properly took certificate action on an emergency basis, not whether the certificate action itself was appropriate.  And NTSB emphasizes that point in denying the request to drop its standard of truth – saying these appeals are not the time for the agency to decide whether the allegations are true.


But the overriding reason is time and resources.  “If the NTSB held a hearing for every petition challenging the emergency status of a case, it could not fulfill its obligation to rule on the merits of the case within the statutorily required 60-day time frame,” the agency says.


 The agency may be willing to revisit the issue, but only if new arguments are presented.  But even so, GA groups greeted the decision to keep what they call “a practice of biased review” as bad news.  “NBAA and its members have seen examples of perceived ‘misuse’ of this government-benefitting,” says Doug Carr, National Business Aviation Association, vice president, safety, security, operations & regulation.


But it wasn’t all bad news for the GA advocates.  While NTSB did not reverse course on the truth assumption, it is moving forward with a separate rule, to implement pilot protections included in Sen. Jim Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) Pilot’s Bill of Rights.  Among other things, an interim final rule expands pilots’ access to information in enforcement cases.

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