The defense attorney for an Air
Ambulance company is reporting that the NTSB, on April 22, 2009,
denied an appeal by the FAA and affirmed the initial decision of
Administrative Law Judge William A. Pope, II, modifying an
emergency order. The FAA sought revocation of the air carrier
certificate held by Air Trek, Inc., an air ambulance operator based
in Punta Gorda, Florida.
Air Trek, an experienced company that had a lot going for and
against it... including a number of high-profile accidents, as well
as some folks bound and determned to see them blamed for it, has
been grounded for nearly a year. Since May 24, 2008, when the FAA
first issued an emergency order indefinitely suspending its
certificate, the company has been awaiting trhw abillty to prove
that that is is in compliance with the FARs. On June 10, 2008, the
FAA withdrew its suspension order and issued an order of revocation
instead. Prior to the revocation, Air Trek had been in operation
for thirty years with no history of violation.
The revocation order initially contained 38 factual allegations
and 14 regulatory violations. At the outset of the 9-day hearing,
the FAA withdrew 7 factual allegations and 2 regulatory violations.
By the fourth day of the hearing, the FAA withdrew most of the
remaining factual allegations and 9 of the 14 violations.
According to the NTSB, the FAA's
attorney "almost immediately began experiencing difficulties in
presenting his case." In denying the Agency's appeal, the NTSB
stated that the FAA's brief was "long on argument and short on
proof." Accordingly, the NTSB affirmed the law judge's decision
modifying the revocation order to an indefinite suspension, until
such time that Air Trek can satisfy the FAA that it can safely
fulfill all responsibilities of its air carrier certificate.
The NTSB stated, "we do not find that the Administrator has
established sufficient support for the complaint's allegation
regarding lack of qualifications, as well as other allegations that
the law judge dismissed." In conclusion, the NTSB ordered the FAA
and Air Trek to "work together in good faith, as expeditiously as
practical," in order to resolve the FAA's concerns and demonstrate
that Air Trek can properly operate in accordance with its
certificate and regulatory requirements. As of April 30, 2009, the
FAA has not yet established a schedule for Air Trek to demonstrate
Air Trek was represented by Gregory S. Winton, Esq. of Aviation
Law Experts, LLC, along with co-counsel, Darol H.M. Carr, Esq. of
the Farr Law Firm. According to Winton, "although the revocation
order did not survive, Air Trek has been grounded for almost one
year and has lost millions of dollars in revenue. Nevertheless, Air
Trek is ready, willing, and able to immediately demonstrate that it
can properly operate in accordance with its operating certificate
and regulatory requirements." In the meantime, Winton will apply
for reimbursement of attorney fees and expenses on behalf of his
client pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA).