Story Developing... Riggs Loses First Round In Battle With FAA/NTSB
ANN Real-Time Update, 11.27.12, 1543 ET: David G Riggs, quickly assuming the aura of aviation's best known crook and con-man, has lost another battle with the Feds... this time, namely, the NTSB and the FAA. It is a battle that could see Riggs losing his tickets for at least year and could the first in a wave of other actions that are rumored to be heading his way... not just from the FAA, but from Federal authorities investigating hundreds of reports of individual illegalities and misconduct.
In a document completed just moments ago by the NTSB's Alfonso J Montano, their Chief Administrative Law Judge, the Judge completed an "ORDER DENYING RESPONDENT'S PETITION CHALLENGING ADMINISTRATOR'S EMERGENCY DETERMINATION."
Riggs appealed the Emergency order a few days after the FAA claimed that, "Under 49 U.S.C. Section 461 05( c), the Acting Administrator has determined that an emergency exists related to safety in air commerce. This determination is based on your lack of qualification to hold your Commercial pilot certificate, or a FAA issued pilot certificate of any kind, because of the nature and seriousness of the violations set forth in this Order.
On or about May 18, 2012, you operated N139CK, an experimental certificated aircraft, in the vicinity of Boulder City Airport, Boulder City, Nevada. You operated N139CK on three separate passenger-carrying flights for compensation or hire, when you knew you were not allowed to conduct such flights. These three flights were conducted as formation flights with another experimental certificated aircraft, thus further increasing the overall risk of these flights. Less than two weeks before, you specifically told FAA Aviation Safety Inspectors that you were not carrying passengers for compensation or hire.
Additionally, you had at least one more passenger-carrying formation flight scheduled for compensation or hire immediately upon the conclusion of your third flight. You deliberately operated your experimental certificated aircraft in this reckless manner when you knew such flights were prohibited by both the Federal Aviation Regulations and N139CK's operation limitations. Your operation of N 139CK as alleged demonstrates a reckless disregard for the safety and property of others that is inconsistent with the requisite care, judgment, and responsibility required of a holder of a pilot certificate of any kind.
Furthermore, you have a history of committing other violations that indicate you put your own economic gain over aviation safety and compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations. On January 12, 2008, your Private Pilot Certificate was revoked for deliberately violating numerous Federal Aviation Regulations involving the operation of N139CK, the same aircraft involve in these violations. The regulatory violations leading to the revocation of your pilot certificate were also related to you promoting your personal economic interests over aviation safety. In this case, you were willing to sacrifice the safety of others for your own personal financial gain by charging for flights in N139CK. Your enforcement history of deliberately compromising aviation safety demonstrates that you lack the qualifications to hold any FAA issued pilot certificate. Your repetitive, violative conduct reflects an airman who is unwilling (or unable) to comply with basic regulatory requirements governing airmen.
Based on the foregoing circumstances, the Acting Administrator is of the opinion that an emergency requiring immediate action exists with respect to safety in air commerce, and he has determined that safety in air commerce and the public interest require the immediate revocation of your Commercial Pilot Certificate, and any other FAA issued pilot certificates you hold, on an emergency basis, and during the pendency of any appeal before the National Transportation Safety Board. Emergency action in this case is a safety measure that provides immediate protection to the public. Moreover, it is long standing FAA policy to declare an emergency under 49 U.S.C. Section 46105(c) when, in circumstances such as those alleged in this Order, the Acting Administrator determines that the certificate holder lacks the qualifications to hold a FAA issued pilot certificate.
In conclusion, the Acting Administrator has determined that under the criteria of FAA Order 2150.B, Chapter 7, pages 1-3, your conduct as alleged in this order demonstrates that you presently lack the degree of care, judgment, and responsibility required of the holder of any FAA issued pilot certificate. The Acting Administrator, therefore, finds in accordance with 49 U.S.C. section 46105(c) and the guidance found in FAA Order 2150.B, Chapter 6, pages 7-10, that the exercise of the privileges of your FAA issued pilot certificates while any proceedings related to the issuance of this Order are pending is contrary to the interest of safety in air commerce."
Riggs' appeal process started fairly quickly. The NTSB docs note that, "The copy of respondent's appeal and emergency challenge petition that was sent to this office by fax was transmitted at 5:45 p.m., Central Time, on Friday, November 16,2012, after the office had closed for business that day at 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time. As a result, it was not stamped received and docketed by this office until the next business day, which was Monday, November 19."
According to NTSB documentation, Riggs' Emergency challenge petition asserts that, "...the Administrator has failed to allege certain events which occurred .... which the Administrator is aware of, or should have been aware of.... [and] are entirely inconsistent with the allegations" set forth above. In this regard, he contends that a Motion Picture Manual and Waiver ("Movie Waiver"), which had been examined and accepted by the Van Nuys FSDO, "was in effect during the scheduled aerial flights," and that he "engaged in the alleged flight activity... under the provisions and procedures of the Movie Waiver;" that he met with FSDO personnel approximately two months before the subject flights to discuss them, at which time he "fully disclosed the flights and was informed that the[y] ... were in accordance with the FARs and properly within the scope of the approved Movie Waiver," and he "would never have engaged in th[Oise] ... film production flights if it [had] not been for the assistance and
assurance he received while meeting with these FAA officials;" that he also filed a Plan of Activities with the Las Vegas, Nevada, FSDO in mid-April 2012, relating to the flight activity planned for May 18, 2012, which "was similar to numerous film production flights performed in the past by [him] for television networks," but the Administrator's order "fails to mention the fact that [he] was performing the subject flights, pursuant to the Movie Waiver, and in his capacity as a film maker;" and that the order "is also completely devoid of any facts which demonstrate [he] received any compensation. "With respect to the compensation issue, respondent has included with his petition a copy of a Passenger Pilot Disclosure and Release Form completed on May 18, 2012 by Michael Smith, whom respondent describes as "his crew member," in which Mr. Smith "confirm[s] that [he] ha[s] not directly or indirectly paid the pilot or the aircraft owner any compensation either actual or implied for this flight," which,
respondent maintains, "debunks the concept that any compensation was paid in the first place."
Riggs appears to be using an apples and oranges approach to his defense in that he is attempting to use a 'Movie Waiver' that applies to actual Movie Production activities and not (as repeatedly asserted by the FAA) to simple personal 'hero' videos made while conducting commercial rides for the passengers he (or associated pilots) may fly. The FAA has already made mince-meat of this defense in the past and numerous parties in the FAA assert, in no uncertain terms, that, '...shooting a video for thrill ride does not constitute a movie under the terms of conventional movie waivers...'
None of this was lost on Montano, who noted that, "Viewing the allegations against respondent here in light of that recent history, the undersigned is compelled to find that he would pose a threat to air safety if he were able to exercise the privileges of his commercial pilot certificate while his appeal of the Administrator's certificate action is pending before the Board."
The Judge also wrote that, "...the Administrator's allegations have clearly raised serious public safety concerns..."
According to information received as we completed the latest update to this article, Riggs' hearing date "...is tentatively December 12 & 13th, if the Respondent doesn't waive the provisions for an expedited hearing." At this point, the Riggs defense has been dealt a critical blow early in the proceedings -- while none of Riggs characteristic misinformation, obfuscation, and bluster appears to be gaining him any ground. We have a number of other documents coming in and will be examining those for possible updates shortly... Please keep an eye on ANN for further details...