ARSA RSS Feed ARSA LinkedIn
Contact Us Online Portal

Court Skeptical on Falsification

On Jan. 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments in Kornitzky Group v. Daniel Elwell. The hearing considered the appeal of a National Transportation Safety Board Order revoking the repair station certificate of AeroBearings, L.L.C.

The order alleged falsification of multiple maintenance releases based on incomplete information in block 12 of FAA Form 8130-3. During the original proceedings, the inspector agreed there was no false or incorrect information in that block on any of questioned forms; the entries were simply incomplete. However, the Board found falsification based upon that fact that information was omitted.

In October 2018, ARSA filed an amicus brief in support of “the plain language of the minimum standards of the aviation safety regulations and the intent of those rules” in the case’s adjudication. The association’s brief covered several regulatory topics, in particular the “logical distinction between a complete maintenance record and a maintenance release.”

Shortly into the presentation by Christopher Richard Stevenson, counsel for the FAA, Judge Harry Edwards asked how the actions described in the NTSB’s order amounted to falsification under 14 CFR 145.12(a) rather than omission, which if performed knowingly to conceal facts would be covered by 145.12(b):

“I understand where you might go with [the falsification argument]…What is it that you think took [the omissions on the 8130s in question] to a higher level? It seems you’ve written 12(b) out of the regulations,” Edwards said, noting that under this line of reasoning, omission would amount to falsification in every case.

That simple question began a long exchange – far exceeding the ten minutes originally allotted to Stevenson – during which each of the three judges expressed skepticism regarding the falsification charge. They alternated asking Stevenson questions regarding the lack of intentionality (Judge Sri Srinivasan) and the information that was accurately provided on AeroBearings’ records (Judge A. Raymond Randolph).

As the discussion closed, Judge Edwards returned to his original question with continued skepticism. “What’s the international falsehood?” he asked. “I’m still missing it. In fact, I’m further away then when I first asked.

To listen to a recording of the oral arguments, click here.

To read ARSA’s amicus brief, click here.

Stay tuned for the release of the court’s opinion on the case.

Previous updates on the case...

Regulatory 'Logical Distinctions' in ARSA Amicus Brief

October 23, 2018

On Oct. 22, ARSA filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to support the “plain language of the minimum standards of the aviation safety regulations and the intent of those rules.”

The brief urged the court to reverse a National Transportation Safety Board Order revoking the repair station certificate of AeroBearings, L.L.C. The order alleged falsification of multiple maintenance releases based on incomplete information in block 12 of FAA Form 8130-3. During the original proceedings, the inspector agreed there was no false or incorrect information in this block on any of questioned forms; the entries were simply incomplete.

ARSA’s brief educates the court on the FAA’s “logical distinction between a complete maintenance record and a maintenance release (i.e., the approval for return to service [on FAA Form 8130-3]).” While information that should be included in a complete maintenance record had been omitted from the forms, its inclusion on those documents is not required by parts 43 or 145. Even more important, section 145.219(b), specifically requires repair stations to “provide a copy of the maintenance release to the owner or operator of the article on which the maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alteration was performed.” Explaining the difference and noting the “voluminous” nature of complete maintenance records, ARSA explained that: “The agency understands and accepts that a maintenance release is not the complete record required by 14 CFR § 43.9.”

The original complaint against AeroBearings also questioned the use of specialized equipment for which the company did not possess the original engineering data. ARSA highlighted the difference between maintenance data – the “how to” instructions regarding the performance of work – and the data used in developing equipment or tooling.

“The regulations are silent as to what makes equipment ‘special’ or ‘acceptable to’ the agency; however, the equipment or tooling must operate in the same fashion and achieve the same results as that recommended by the manufacturer,” the association said. “Once the showing is made that the equipment or apparatus achieves the appropriate result, there are no regulations that require retention of the data or recording of the demonstration used to make the showing.”

Based on this plain reading of the rules, ARSA urged reversal of the NTSB’s order. The entire brief, which provides a thorough overview of the aviation regulatory structure regarding maintenance, preventive maintenance and alteration, can be accessed by clicking here.

AeroBearings was an ARSA member during the time period at issue in the NTSB Order, but the association did not participate in the legal enforcement process.



More from ARSA

Conference 2019 – Sponsor Salute

Registration is officially open for ARSA’s 2019 Annual Conference. Make sure you’ve got the dates in your calendar (and that they are correct): March 12-15, 2019 in Arlington, Virginia and…Read More

Court Skeptical on Falsification

On Jan. 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments in Kornitzky Group v. Daniel Elwell. The hearing considered the appeal of a…Read More

Managing a Shut-down Government

Managing Another MAG Mess UPDATE: Having heard on Jan. 14 the FAA was in the process of recalling aviation safety inspectors to work for no-pay while wrangling over the government shutdown…Read More

On-Demand Training – Three Sessions on Human Factors

ARSA is growing its library of human factors-related training sessions. The first three, which introduce key aspects of human factors in aviation maintenance, are now available for immediate on-demand viewing:  Human…Read More

Quick Question – U.S. Government Shutdown

ARSA communicates regularly with officials in the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government about issues affecting the maintenance and manufacturing sectors.  Help the association manage issues related to the federal government…Read More
ARSA