Plane-ly Spoken

Insightful commentary on regulation and litigation impacting the aviation industry

Dear NTSB, Thank you for proposing additional clarifications to your Form 6120.1, NTSB Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report and requesting comments on the proposed changes.  While I generally agree with the changes and clarifications you have proposed, there are several issues which you haven’t addressed.  Before pointing them out, I want to re-state something I have said before on multiple occasions . . . .. the NTSB is the world standard in aviation accident investigation.…
There can be little doubt that the FAA is no longer going to tolerate the disruptions caused by drunken and unruly passengers.  Yesterday, the FAA announced large civil penalties against another four travelers for misconduct that occurred between December 22, 2020 and February 7, 2021. In the first case, the FAA is seeking a $9,000 fine against a passenger on a December 22, 2020 Delta Air Lines flight from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  According…
As we originally reported back in 2019, the FAA has been working on a new set of rules defining an air carrier’s responsibilities to its passengers in the event of a tarmac delay.  That process has finally ended, with the publication yesterday of the new rules in the Federal Register. The primary purpose of the rulemaking was to provide guidance on how air carriers should comply with the Congressional mandates contained in Section 2308…
As we reported last month, the FAA is finally taking strong enforcement action against unruly passengers who disrupt air travel.  Today, the FAA announced three new cases involving stiff penalties against such individuals.  Not surprisingly, all three cases involved passengers who brought their own alcohol onto the plane. In the first matter, the FAA assessed a $31,750 fine against a passenger for misconduct on a January 4, 2021 jetBlue Airlines flight from Haiti to Boston,…
Thursday, May 20, 2021  |  1 pm ET While last year ended with sighs of relief and the commonly expressed sentiment that “at least 2020 is finally over,” new challenges nonetheless await the aviation industry in 2021. A new presidential administration brought a new philosophy to aviation rulemaking, enforcement and infrastructure spending. The COVID-19 vaccine is here, but new and more stringent federal mask mandates are in place for air travelers, and new COVID-19 variants are spreading…
The new unmanned aircraft rules regarding remote identification and flight over persons are finally in effect, as of April 21, 2021.  The final versions of these rules were released by the FAA on December 28, 2020, and originally had an implementation date of March 16, 2021.  However, when the Biden administration took office, they immediately put a 60-day freeze in place for all rulemaking that was conducted under the Trump administration.  All such rules had…
In a new decision, the Michigan Court of Appeals has held that when it comes to privacy and aerial surveillance, a landowner has a greatly enhanced expectation of privacy when unmanned aircraft are involved.  The decision, Long Lake Township v. Maxon, 2021 WL 1097336 (Mich. App. Mar. 13, 2021), is the first time that an appellate court has addressed these issues. The opinion arises out of an action brought by Long Lake Township (“Township”) against…
The United States Supreme Court handed down a decision yesterday that expands the reach of state courts over companies involved in interstate commerce.  While the decision, Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, No. 19-368 (March 25, 2021), involves automobiles, it will have a substantial impact on the aviation industry. Under longstanding precedent, a state or local court can only exercise jurisdiction over a company in accordance with the limits of the Fourteenth…
On January 21, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel, which mandated mask wearing on all commercial aircraft.  In addition, all domestic United States air carriers have their own rules that require passengers to wear masks while on board a plane. Despite this, there continue to be incidents where unruly passengers refuse to comply with these rules.  According to news reports, there have been hundreds…
Over the past six years, there has been growing support in Congress for stripping the Federal Aviation Administration of some of its authority over the lower levels of the national airspace system.  For example, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 mandated several studies of FAA preemption and the proper role of state, local, and tribal governments in regulating airspace use.  Given this background, the latest move by Senator Mike Lee of Utah is worth watching.…