49 CFR 821.33 Stale Complaint Rule

In Administrator v. Armstrong, the NTSB relied upon its 2003 holding in Ramaprakash, restating Rule 33 which requires the FAA to provide notice of a proposed certificate action to the respondend within six months of an alleged incident or violation. The full text of the NTSB’s 2012 opinion follows.

NTSB Order No. EA-5629
at its office in Washington, D.C.
on the 18th day of May, 2012

Docket SE-19132                                        

   MICHAEL P. HUERTA,              
   Acting Administrator,                  
   Federal Aviation Administration,
1.  Background

 Respondent appeals the oral initial decision of Administrative Law Judge William R.
Mullins issued on September 27, 2011.1  By that decision, the law judge affirmed the
Administrator’s revocation of respondent’s air transport pilot (ATP) certificate, based on
1 A copy of the oral initial decision is … [downloadable at Legal.com; use back-arrow key to return to this content. Click: 5629].

Pg. 2
respondent’s alleged violation of 14 C.F.R. § 61.15(d).2  We grant respondent’s appeal.

 A.  Facts

 On July 30, 2008, the state of New Hampshire, Department of Safety, Division of Motor
Vehicles, suspended respondent’s motor vehicle driving privileges for a violation of the state’s
implied consent law.3  On January 20, 2009, respondent’s driving privileges were suspended a
second time for a violation of New Hampshire’s implied consent law.  Respondent timely
reported both driving suspensions to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in accordance
with 14 C.F.R. § 61.15(e).4  See Exhs. R-H and R-I.  In 2009, the FAA brought an enforcement
action against respondent under § 61.15(d) for the two driving suspensions.  As a result of that
action, the FAA suspended respondent’s ATP certificate for 30 days.5  Tr. at 35.

 Respondent applied for a medical certificate in August 2010.  He properly disclosed both
motor vehicle actions on his medical application.  Pursuant to policy, the FAA ran respondent’s
2 Section 61.15(d) provides:
Except for a motor vehicle action that results from the same incident or arises out
of the same factual circumstances, a motor vehicle action occurring within 3 years
of a previous motor vehicle action is grounds for:  
(1)  Denial of an application for any certificate, rating, or
authorization issued under this part for a period of up to 1 year
after the date of the last motor vehicle action; or  
(2)  Suspension or revocation of any certificate, rating, or
authorization issued under this part
3 Under state driver licensing laws, a licensed driver has given his implied consent to a field
sobriety test and/or a Breathalyzer or similar manner of determining blood alcohol concentration.
In most states, the police must have reasonable grounds for administering a sobriety test.  If the
driver refuses to comply with the police, the driver is in violation of the implied consent law for
motor vehicles.   
4 The pertinent portion of § 61.15(e) states, “[e]ach person holding a certificate issued under this
part shall provide a written report of each motor vehicle action to the FAA, Civil Aviation
Security Division … not later than 60 days after the motor vehicle action.”
5 Respondent did not appeal the 2009 FAA enforcement action to the NTSB.

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