FAA Regulations On Safety Essay, Research Paper
Topic: Federal Aviation Agency
In deciding which regulated industry to research, we wanted to pick one with plenty of information and one that was reasonably interesting to us. So, we have chosen to research the air transportation industry and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). We will be reporting on the types of FAA regulations the air transportation industry must adhere to. In addition to this, we will be explaining how compliance with these regulations is measured. Along the way, we will discuss legal controversies the aviation industry has encountered in meeting, or failing to meet, FAA regulations and standards. Finally, from the perspective of both the agency and the industry, we will look at the purpose and success of the regulations put forth by the FAA on the airline industry.
Let us start with some background information about the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA is part of an even bigger government agency called the Department of Transportation. The FAA can be found under the DOT, along with many other agencies such as The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), to name a few. The FAA was created in 1958 and was born out of the Civil Aeronautics Administration. Since then, the FAA has been responsible for regulating all types of air travel in the United States. From small, one-engine planes, to large passenger planes and everything in between, any type of air travel is under the jurisdiction of the FAA.
The duties of the FAA will be further discussed in section one. Section two deals with hijacking. Section three deals with pilot licensure. The fourth and final section deals with airport noise and noise abatement.
FAA Basic Outline
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which was formally known as the Federal Aviation Agency, was created in 1958 under the Federal Aviation Act. In 1967, the Department of Transportation Act was passed joining the aviation agency into the Department of Transportation.
The Federal Aviation Administration has many duties and responsibilities. Under the Federal Aviation Act, they are responsible for the following:
1. Regulate and promote air commerce and safety, as well protect the national defense;
2. Create and regulate air space safely and efficiently, for both civilian and military purposes;
3. Developing Aircrafts in the interest of science, to further innovation and safety;
4. Collect Research and development in regards to air navigation facilities and safety;
5. Installing and operating air navigation facilities;
6. Developing a common standard for air traffic control and navigation for civil and military purposes;
7. Developing and implementing programs to control aircraft noise, and other environment causes;
Safety regulation is one of the most important and primary jobs of the FAA. The FAA is responsible for suing, enforcing, and regulating safety standards. They are also responsible for setting minimum standards for aircraft operation and maintenance. All the minimum standards for flight operation, and maintenance are located in the Airworthiness Inspector?s Handbook. The FAA also creates rates and certifications for people that work, and use aircrafts.
Another job of the Federal Aviation Administration is to manage air traffic safety. This task is done by creating and operating a large network of traffic control towers, air route traffic control centers and flight service stations facilities. In order to create such a large network, the agency maintains voice and data communication equipment, radar facilities, computer systems and visual display equipment with all the towers, stations and control centers.
Research, Development and Engineering activities of the FAA provide for systems, procedures, facilities, that help for safe and efficient systems of air navigation and air traffic control for civilian and military aircrafts. The research provides for support and development for improved aircraft engines, propellers, and appliances. The research done however is not just limited to the aircraft, they also use help in aeromedical research. Aeromedical research provides knowledge for health and safety of agency employees and civilians.
The FAA?s major job is the development and incorporation of air traffic controls. Under the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 the agency was required to promote ?aviation safety and civil aviation? by exchanging aeronautical information with foreign authorities. The information exchanged varies from certifying foreign repair stations, aviators, and mechanics to FAA standards. They also negotiate bilateral agreements for airworthy aircraft and components.
The last activity that the FAA is responsible for is based on miscellaneous activities. Some of the most common miscellaneous activities deal primary with administering aviation insurance, and maintain aircraft loan programs. They also develop specific aeronautical charts, publish information dealing with airports and planes, and provide as the executive administration for the operation and maintenance of the Department of Transportation.
Growth of the FSIA ands its Incorporation into Hijacking Torts
Airline hijacking, also known as skyjacking, first occurred in the United States on May 1, 1961. This first episode dealt with a man who forced a commercial airliner in route to Miami to detour to Cuba. By the end of the year, four more planes had succumbed to this devastating new plague. While most of the earlier hijackings were non-violent and more profit driven, as the times changed, both economically and politically, so did the hijackers values for a more violent approach.
A more destructive and dangerous wave of hijackings started appearing in Europe and the Middle East from 1968 onward. The newer breed of hijackers were more politically motivated and wanted more the destruction of the plane rather than any sort of ransom claim. Approximately 0 million dollars in damages and destruction was caused just within a 2-year span. This breed of hijackers created a global scare, and led to the creation of the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States.
The FAA created mandatory safety requirements and procedures for airlines, airports, and employees. The FAA rules and procedures that deal directly with Hijacking are located in Chapter 7 section 1-5. These rules greatly helped decrease the amount of air traffic accidents and made airline transportation safer. The problem however was the inevitable fact that no matter how secure, or how many polices that were posted by the FAA, there was always to be a few cases of hijackers who manage to slip by the system. In order to fix this problem, or at least provide further remedy, the FAA helped amend new legislation making it possible for an individual to bring suit for money damages against a foreign state for personal injury or death caused by a state-sponsored terrorist act. This new amended legislation, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), created a block against terrorists interested in purely economic and political gains through the seizing and re-distribution of intern!
ational government land to the victims of the crime. This amended act, according to many experts, was one of the most controversial and most important laws created in the efforts to curb hijacking.
The Foreign Immunities Act, however, went through a radical change to finally accept the new amended rules. Primarily, the act was based upon the notion of par non habet in parem imperium, which means an equal has no authority over an equal. This doctrine forbid any sovereign country from exercising jurisdiction over another state. This approach was first created in 1812 with the Schooner Exchange v McFaddon case. In this case, Justice Marshall stated that absolute sovereignty would require there to be no ?limitations imposed by the outside? with free quality and absolute independence. This view of total independence was shortly outlived with the United States markets opening to more international markets.
As the market started to become more global, the courts started moving away from totally sovereignty to more of an interpretive approach. In the cases of Ex parte Repulic of Peru and Republic of Mexico v Hoffman the Court created precedent to use a ?deference policy.? This policy gave the State Department the ability to determine whether a foreign sovereign state was amendable to suit. However, this precedent created only more confusion as to when a state would receive immunity and when it would be denied. The confusion and inconsistency of the State Department?s decisions in the sovereign immunity matter led to the Tate Letter. Part of the reason why the State Department was so inconsistent was because of all the diplomatic influences given. One of the most influential cases used to show the unfair power of diplomatic pressure was Isbrandsten Tankers, Inc v President of India.
In this case, the government of India owned a large group of shipping vessels carrying grains to India as part of a massive food-shortage campaign. Through some misunderstanding or wrong doing, Isbrandsten Tankers filed suit against the Indian government in the United States District Court in New York. The Indian government claimed sovereignty and the District Court of appeals ended the case. The Isbrandsten Tanker did not have any possible financial way out. There was an outcry from the general public to create a fair standard to protect the people.
In 1971 Jack Tate, the legal advisor to the State Department, wrote the Tate letter to further clarifying the requirements by implementing a ?restrictive theory? of sovereign immunity. The restrictive theory stated that even though foreign states are immune to United States jurisdiction, there are exemptions that allow legal action to take place. The initial restrictive theory created the following exemptions: 1) Commercial Activity; 2) waiver of immunity; 3) property claims; 4) noncommercial torts occurring in the United States; and 5) International agreements. The Tate Letter also believed that the executive branch was not qualified to make legal decisions regarding immunity, and therefore believed the courts should be responsible for this task. The ability to sue for torts created by public non-commercial parties, however, was very debatable and was always in ?judicial limbo?. However, the country was taking its first epic judicial step to destroying the immor!
ense of sovereignty used by other countries.
For roughly around 20 years, the infamous Tate letter and the recommendations given by it were welcomed open-handedly. However during the 1990?s two important cases, Saudi Arabia v Nelson and Smith v Socialist People?s Libyan Arab Jamhiriya, along with the increase in terrorism made it clear that the FAA needs to change and modify the FSIA to make it more open to the victims rights.
In 1983, Scott Nelson, an American, was hired into the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. After approximately one year of work, Nelson discovered safety defects in the hospital?s oxygen lines that created a very serious fire hazard. After advising the Hospital officials, the Saudi government arrested him and transported him to a Saudi Jail, where he was beaten and tortured for 39 days. It wasn?t until Senator Edward Kennedy made a personal request did the Saudi government free him.
In 1989 Nelson filed suit against the Saudi Government for damages against the Saudi Government, the Hospital in Riyadh, and Royspec, the hiring company for the Hospital. Nelson however was forced to file the lawsuit under the commercial activity exception of the FSIA because of the FSIA had very narrow exceptions. This angle greatly weakened the case for Nelson, and the court ultimately found in favor of the Saudi Government. Justice Souter stated that the abuse was not ?based upon a commercial activity? within the meaning of the Act. The court also found that the conduct ?boiled down to the abuse of power of its police by the government? which was monstrous and abusive, but still sovereign in nature. This case showed the clear problem that legal recourse was needed against official security forces of a foreign state.
The case of Smith v Socialist People?s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya further demonstrated the need for a revision by the FAA. In 1988 a bomb exploded on Pan Am Flight 103 shortly after take-off. The plane was destroyed, and all 259 passengers, along with eleven people on the ground, were killed. The blame of the explosion was finally linked to high-ranking officials in the Libyan government. The motive behind the bombing was to seek redemption for the United States bombing of Tripoli, Libya. In this case, the families of the victims sued the state of Libya to recover civil damages. Again the families had a very difficult time attempting to bring suit against Libya because limited exemptions to the FSIA. The families ultimately had to accept the court?s decision that even though acts are ?horrific? it can not be the ?basis for giving unwarranted interpretations? simply to ?benefit the victims of the bombings?.
These cases gave need for the last and final amendment to the FSIA. The general public was furious with the increase in terrorism and the government?s inability to allow for financial compensation from the sovereign states. Congress, with the aid of the FAA, finally amended to the FSIA to allow victims the ability to seek damages from foreign states for personal injury, death, torture, aircraft sabotage, hostage taking, and or any other terrorist activities. This final addition to the FSIA was a ?significant tool in the fight against terrorism?. These new added provisions created the ability for multi-million dollar judgments in favor of the victims. The three most recent cases using this provision are Alejandre v. Republic of Cuba, Flatow v. Islmaic Republic of Iran and Cicippio v. Islamic Republic of Iran.
The FAA has played a very critical role in stopping hijackers. They have not only passed safety standards and policies but they also have amended many rules and regulations. One of the most influential acts the FAA helped amend was the FSIA, which, according to one expert, was one of the most ?effective weapons? against terrorism. With the threat sanctions, loss of trade, and loss of foreign investments, the sponsors of terrorism are beginning to realize that the benefits are outweighed by the cost. This has been the main reason why terrorism is slowly dwindling downward.
Pilot Concerns & FAA Regulations
Arguably, the most important person on an airplane is the pilot. Without him/her, the passengers would be helpless. Knowing this, the FAA has set forth many guidelines, provisions and restrictions for pilots of all aviation categories. From single-engine planes, to huge passenger planes, the FAA has rules concerning them all. For purposes of conciseness and brevity, we will be focusing on commercial airline pilots and smaller-plane pilots. We will look at the types of restrictions and regulations they are subjected to under the FAA guidelines.
Let us begin with the qualifications. Commercial airline pilots are subject to rigorous physical and mental standards. For example, a person wishing to become a pilot for American Airlines must meet the following requirements: ?at least 21 years of age, be of a height to reach all necessary controls and have corrected 20/20 vision. Finally, all applicants must be legal U.S. citizens who can fully understand the English language and who have a valid FAA commercial license with an instrument rating, and all pilots must retire by the time they are 60 years of age.? Now, if you are not too tall, have good eyesight, fall within the age range and are licensed by the FAA, you can be considered for a job at American Airlines. So you can see that becoming a commercial pilot is not an easy process.
Once a pilot is in control of a plane, they take on an extreme amount of responsibility. That responsibility, however, is often times through the form of good judgments and not through the consulting of a black and white textbook or manual. What is good judgment? It is the ability to make an instant decision, which assures the safest possible continuation of the flight. But judgment may often be a series of evaluations, made over a period of minutes, hours, or even longer, that keeps you out of danger. A safe pilot consistently makes good judgments. Through education and experience, pilots can learn good judgment just as thoroughly as they learn the mechanical concepts and basic skills of flying. In fact, learning judgment is just as much an important part of flying as learning to make good takeoffs and landings.
A pilot?s main concern is getting from point A to point B as safely and easily as possible. Sometimes, however, that task is much harder than it seems because pilots are faced with many types of adversarial situations. One major enemy of any pilot, be it civilian or military, is the weather. Foul weather can come in the form of heavy wind, rain, snow and icy conditions. Not only do pilots need to be concerned with the weather in the air, they must also be thinking about their impending landing maneuvers. Will the runway be iced over or covered with an inch of rainwater? All these factors must be taken into account when pilots factor in weather conditions.
Foul weather can account for many in-flight problems. Planes that are forced to fly through intense storms often encounter severe turbulence. This was the case with an American Airlines flight that originated in New York and was bound for Puerto Rico on August 28, 1991. While airborne, the ?First Officer noticed a weather system forming in the flight path. Upon this observation, the flight crew illuminated the ?fasten seat belts? sign. At this time, the First Officer also warned the flight attendants that the aircraft would encounter some turbulence in approximately ten minutes. At no time did the flight crew warn the passengers of the turbulence ahead, nor did the pilot change the flight course to avoid the oncoming weather system. Some passengers were injured when the plane encountered the severe weather and turbulence?.
Among those injured were Khaled Abdullah, Audrey James, Eardley James, and Velma George. The plaintiffs filed lawsuits alleging that the ?pilot and flight crew negligently failed to take precautions to avoid the turbulence and negligently failed to warn the passengers of the turbulent conditions to enable the passengers to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves?. A jury trial began in August of 1995 in the District Court of the Virgin Islands, Division of Saint Croix, where the court consolidated the cases together into one. Upon conclusion of the trial, a jury found ?American Airlines liable, with no contributory negligence by the plaintiffs, and awarded the plaintiffs more than two million dollars?.
This case showed that even though the pilots turned on the ?fasten seatbelts? sign, the fact that no one directly warned the passengers to do so, entitled them to their respective settlements. American Airlines tried to appeal this case saying that FAA regulations (simply turning on the seatbelt sign) already outlined the minimum standards of air travel. Why, then should the plaintiff?s be allowed to bring a case against American Airlines saying the pilot showed aviation negligence? ?The Court, however, held that Congress intended to preempt the entire field of air safety, but allowed plaintiffs to recover damages under state or territorial remedies?. Foul weather does not only happen when the aircraft is in flight. It can create havoc for pilots on runways and can cause several hours of delay at airports nationwide. All types of aircraft are subject to bad weather, not just large commercial airplanes. On February 13, 1980, a twin-engine airplane crashed near H!
ngs, South Dakota. The plane was carrying a pilot and three passengers. The pilot, Charles M. Largent, was also the plane?s owner. He, along with business associate Louis Altringer, were on their way to California for business. The estates of Largent and Altringer brought action against the United States, alleging that the government negligently failed to warn Largent of adverse weather conditions that led to structural icing causing the plane to crash.
The government, however, claimed that it was Largent, not the Flight Service Station specialist, (an FSS is a Federal Aviation Administration air traffic facility that provides services to airmen such as weather briefings, receiving and processing flight plans, and communicating with airborne aircraft) who was negligent and ultimately responsible for the crash. The problem lay in the fact that when Largent phoned to speak to the FSS at approximately 4:16 a.m., he was not told of icy conditions reported because that warning was set to expire at 6:00 a.m. That was the same time Largent had planned to take off for California and the FSS specialist felt the ice warning would be irrelevant by then. However, approximately two minutes before Largent again called the FSS, one specialist replaced another and he too failed to mention the now expired ice warning to Largent. So, Largent and his three passengers took off, supposedly thinking that moderately fair weather lay !
f them. However, shortly after takeoff, the plane crashed and it was determined by investigators that the reason was an ice buildup on the plane, which was not fitted with de-icing equipment. ?FAA regulations mandate that the pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft?. So, keeping this in mind, the court decided that even though both FSS specialists were negligent in not telling Largent of the reported icy conditions which led to the crash, the ultimate responsibility still fell on Largent. Also, the court found that Altringer was negligent because he too could have seen the poor weather of the morning in question and therefore should have used better judgment when deciding whether or not to fly.
As mentioned earlier, pilots have an enormous amount of responsibility on them when they take the controls of a plane. Under FAA regulations, they are responsible for themselves, as well as all passengers in the plane. For this reason, groups like the Air Line Pilot?s Association (ALPA), which represents over 59,000 pilots at 49 airlines in the U.S. and Canada, are pushing for more laws governing things such as flight time for fatigued pilots. On November 20, 2000, the FAA interpreted a rule clarifying that ?16 hours is the maximum time a pilot can remain on duty, regardless of delays caused by weather, air traffic control, or maintenance?. The FAA, in concert with the ALPA, has worked together to gain strides like this one to keep airlines from forcing their pilots to fly without adequate time for rest and relaxation. FAA Deputy Chief Counsel James Whitlow wrote, If, when using the actual expected flight time [for a segment], the carrier cannot find at least eig!