Boeta v. FAA, No. 15-60431 (5th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Petitioner appealed the NTSB's final decision affirming the initial decision of the ALJ which upheld the FAA's sixty day suspension of petitioner's air transport pilot certificate. The suspension order stated that petitioner, as pilot-in-command, had filed a flight plan for and operated the flight of N497RC in reduced vertical separation (RVSM) airspace, even though no operator was authorized to do so at the time. The court concluded that the NTSB did not err reversibly in rejecting (1) petitioner's assertion that the ALJ improperly limited his cross-examination of several witnesses and (2) his affirmative defense of reasonable reliance. Therefore, the court affirmed as to those determinations. However, the court held that the NTSB’s decision affirming the ALJ’s rejection of petitioner’s defense of waiver of sanction under the Aviation Safety Report (ASR) procedure was arbitrary and capricious as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court reversed as to those rulings and rendered judgment that petitioner is entitled to waiver of all sanctions - expressly including the sixty day suspension of his air transport pilot certificate - by virtue of his timely compliance with the FAA’s ASR procedure. The court remanded to the NTSB with instructions to expunge its suspension of petitioner’s certificate and to take any other steps that might be required to complete these proceedings.