Articles Posted in Aviation

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The DC Circuit denied a petition for review of the FAA's Small UAS Rule regulating certain unmanned aircraft (drones). Petitioner, a model aircraft hobbyist, contended that the rule exceeded the agency's statutory authority, was arbitrary and capricious, and had miscellaneous additional infirmities. The court held that because the challenged rule's only regulation of section 336 model aircraft was permitted by the Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, the FAA has honored the statutory safe harbor for these aircraft; section 333 of the Modernization Act permits the agency to apply the regulations of the Small UAS Rule to recreational model aircraft that do not fall within the section 336 safe harbor; the FAA did not act arbitrarily or capriciously and the court rejected plaintiff's five arguments to the contrary; and the court rejected plaintiff's contention that the FAA violated the Paperwork Reduction Act. View "Taylor v. FAA" on Justia Law

Posted in: Aviation

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The DC Circuit dismissed EPIC's petition for review of the FAA's rule promulgated under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, in which Congress directed the Secretary to consider whether certain small unmanned aircraft systems (drones) could be safely integrated into the national airspace and to establish requirements ensuring their safe operation. The court did not reach the merits of the complaint and held that EPIC failed to establish standing. In this case, because EPIC could not meet its burden to show that at least one of its members suffered the requisite injury for standing, its claim of associational standing failed. Furthermore, EPIC submitted no affidavits in support of its standing as an organization but, instead, presented only vague assertions in its brief. View "Electronic Privacy Information Center v. FAA" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit denied a petition for review of the FAA's refusal to grant petitioner, a type-one diabetic, a medical certificate required for commercial flight. In this case, petitioner had declined to provide data from a relatively new method of blood-glucose testing known as continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), and this court remanded for the FAA to explain why it needed the data. The court held that the FAA satisfied the remand order where the FAA explained that it needed the data because CGM is able to detect hypoglycemic episodes often missed by more traditional monitoring, and the FAA supported that explanation with medical studies in the administrative record. View "Friedman v. FAA" on Justia Law

Posted in: Aviation

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The DC Circuit denied a petition for review of the Secretary of Transportation's award of a foreign air carrier permit to Norwegian Air International Limited. Petitioners, four airline-employee unions, argued that the airline's business model and labor practices were not in the public interest. The court held that the unions have Article III standing to challenge the Secretary's decision. The court held, on the merits, that their petition failed because neither federal law nor international agreement required the Secretary to deny a permit on freestanding public-interest grounds where, as here, an applicant satisfied the requirements for obtaining a permit. View "Air Line Pilots Association v. Chao" on Justia Law

Posted in: Aviation

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Georgetown University and others petitioned for review of the FAA's approval of new flight paths that would bring planes closer to the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Petitioners alleged that the FAA failed to comply with environmental and historic preservation laws when assessing the noise impacts of the new departure procedures. The DC Circuit dismissed the petition as time-barred, because the FAA's December 2013 approval of the new routes, not its later publication of the route charts, qualified as the agency's final action, and because petitioners failed to challenge it within the sixty-day statutory time limit and had no "reasonable grounds" for the delay. View "Citizens Association of Georgetown v. FAA" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit denied a petition for review of the FAA's "airworthiness directive," that mandated removal of some of petitioner's engine cylinder assemblies. The court held that the FAA's conclusion that AEC63 cylinder assemblies presented a "hazardous" risk in the event of failure was supported by substantial evidence in the record. The court explained that the FAA gathered the record evidence, over a period of years, with multiple rounds of public comment, on the safety risks posed by AEC63 cylinder assemblies, and the FAA's "unsafe condition" determination was based on a proper application of the FAA 8040.4A methodology and was supported by substantial evidence in the record on cylinder assembly failures. View "Airmotive Engineering Corp. v. FAA" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit denied a petition for review of the FAA's "airworthiness directive," that mandated removal of some of petitioner's engine cylinder assemblies. The court held that the FAA's conclusion that AEC63 cylinder assemblies presented a "hazardous" risk in the event of failure was supported by substantial evidence in the record. The court explained that the FAA gathered the record evidence, over a period of years, with multiple rounds of public comment, on the safety risks posed by AEC63 cylinder assemblies, and the FAA's "unsafe condition" determination was based on a proper application of the FAA 8040.4A methodology and was supported by substantial evidence in the record on cylinder assembly failures. View "Airmotive Engineering Corp. v. FAA" on Justia Law

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The City petitioned for review of the FAA's letter, characterizing it as a final order, that addressed the noise complaints stemming from its change of flight routes in and out of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The DC Circuit held that petitioners had reasonable grounds for their delay in filing and reached the merits of their petitions. The court also held that the FAA's approval of the new flight routes was arbitrary and capricious and violated the National Historic Preservation Act because the FAA's failure to notify and provide documentation to the City of the agency’s finding of no adverse impact denied the City its right to participate in the process and object to the findings. The FAA also violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Department of Transportation Act; and the FAA's Order 1050.1E. Accordingly, the court granted the petitions for review, vacated the FAA's September 18, 2014 order implementing the new flight routes and procedures, and remanded. View "Phoenix v. Huerta" on Justia Law

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Paul Hudson and the Flyers Rights group petitioned the FAA to promulgate rules governing size limitations for aircraft seats to ensure, among other things, that passengers can safely and quickly evacuate a plane in an emergency. The Administration denied the petition, asserting that seat spacing did not affect the safety or speed of passenger evacuations. The DC Circuit granted the petition for review in part and agreed with Flyers Rights that the Administration failed to provide a plausible evidentiary basis for concluding that decreased seat sizes combined with increased passenger sizes have no effect on emergency egress. However, the court disagreed with Flyers Rights' challenge to the Administration's declination to regulate matters of physical comfort and routine health. In this case, the Administration decided that it should not address those issues at this time, making the very type of regulatory-effort and resource-allocation judgments that fell squarely within the agency's province. The court remanded to the Administration for a properly reasoned disposition of the petition's safety concerns about the adverse impact of decreased seat dimensions and increased passenger size on aircraft emergency egress. View "Flyers Rights Education Fund v. FAA" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit upheld the Department's final rule defining e-cigarette use as "smoking" for purposes of airplane travel under 49 U.S.C. 41706. The Department rested its authority for the regulation on two sections authorizing past aircraft smoking regulations, 49 U.S.C. 41706 (prohibition on "smoking" on scheduled passenger flights within, to, or from the United States) and 49 U.S.C. 41702 ("air carrier shall provide safe and adequate interstate air transportation"). The court held that a "smoking prohibition" reasonably applies to products intended to enable users to inhale and exhale nicotine; the regulation was not arbitrary; the Department acknowledged petitioners' contrary evidence and explained why the regulation was still warranted; and the Department did not impermissibly rely on new studies in the final rule, but instead included new supplementary information that expands on and confirms data in the rulemaking record. Because the court upheld the regulation under section 41706, the court need not address section 41702. View "Competitive Enterprise Institute v. DOT" on Justia Law