by
Sikkelee was killed when a Cessna aircraft he was piloting crashed after taking off from North Carolina's Transylvania County Airport. The aircraft had a Lycoming engine; Sikkelee's widow alleged the aircraft lost power due to a defect in the design of the engine and its carburetor. The FAA had issued Lycoming a type certificate for the engine, certifying that the design performs properly and satisfies federal regulations. Sikkelee’s widow brought strict liability and negligence claims against Lycoming, alleging design defect. The Third Circuit held that Sikkelee’s state-law claims are not barred based on the doctrine of field preemption. On remand, the district court concluded the claims were conflict-preempted and that Lycoming was entitled to summary judgment on Sikkelee’s strict liability and negligence claims based on Pennsylvania law. The court granted Lycoming summary judgment on Sikkelee’s claim that Lycoming violated 14 C.F.R. 21.3 by failing to notify the FAA of the alleged defect. The Third Circuit reversed in part, rejecting an argument that Sikkelee’s claims were conflict-preempted because FAA regulations made it impossible for Lycoming to unilaterally implement design changes Pennsylvania law allegedly would have required. Lycoming has not produced clear evidence that the FAA would not have allowed it to change the design set forth in the type certificate. Summary judgment on Sikkelee’s strict liability and negligence claims was inappropriate because there are genuine disputes of material fact concerning causation. Summary judgment was proper on the failure-to-notify-the-FAA claim. View "Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corp" on Justia Law

by
In 2016, commercial air pilot Sean Fitzgerald showed up for work "rip-roaring drunk." He was set to fly in the morning, so he readied the jet for take-off: he conducted a walk-around safety check before entering the cockpit, where he calibrated the altimeter, programmed the flight-management system, turned on the auxiliary power unit, and requested flight clearance from air- traffic control. Before passengers boarded, Fitzgerald’s co-pilot recognized his inebriation and alerted airline executives, who in turn notified local law enforcement. Fitzgerald was arrested and charged under 18 U.S.C. 342, which makes it a crime to operate a common carrier while intoxicated. A jury convicted Fitzgerald, and the district court sentenced him to one year and one day in prison and to three years of supervised release. On appeal, Fitzgerald contended that the actions he performed were not enough to operate the aircraft within the meaning of section 342, that the jury was wrongly instructed, and that the district court erred at his sentencing. Finding no reversible error, the Sixth Circuit affirmed Fitzgerald's conviction. View "United States v. Fitzgerald" on Justia Law

by
The DC Circuit denied Interjet's petitions for review of the Department's orders implementing a decision to not allow the airlines to give any takeoff and landing slots at Mexico City's Benito Juárez International Airport, because Interjet already had more than 300 slots at that airport. The court denied Interjet's claim that the Department's orders were arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law. Rather, the court held that the Department's decision was reasonable and consistent with its statutory mandate. In this case, the Department's orders were neither contrary to the Federal Aviation Act nor arbitrary and capricious. View "ABC Aerolineas, S.A. de C.V. v. DOT" on Justia Law

by
The anti-discrimination prohibition in the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (ACAA) is not enforceable through an implied private cause of action. The ACCA prohibits air carriers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of a physical or mental impairment. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claim against Southwest that alleged a violation of the ACCA. The panel joined the Second, Fifth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits in concluding that, in light of the ACAA's statutory structure, Congress did not intend to create a private cause of action under the ACAA. Therefore, plaintiff's claim was properly dismissed. View "Segalman v. Southwest Airlines Co." on Justia Law

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
Plaintiffs leased part of Love Field airport from the City of Dallas and constructed a six-gate airline terminal. Plaintiffs claim that the Wright Amendment Reform Act of 2006 (WARA), 120 Stat. 2011, effected a regulatory taking of their leases and a physical taking of the terminal because the statute codified a private agreement in which Dallas agreed to bar the use of plaintiffs’ gates for commercial air transit and to acquire and demolish plaintiffs’ terminal. The Claims Court found that WARA's enactment constituted a per se regulatory taking of plaintiffs’ leaseholds under Supreme Court precedent, Lucas, and a regulatory taking of the leaseholds under Penn Central, and a physical taking of the terminal. The Federal Circuit reversed. Noting the history of regulation of Love Field and limitations in place before WARA, the court stated there can be no regulatory taking because plaintiffs cannot demonstrate that their ability to use their property for commercial air passenger service pre-WARA had any value. Plaintiffs’ reasonable, investment-backed expectations are limited by the regulatory regime in place when they acquired the leases. Rejecting a claim of physical taking the court reasoned that a requirement that federal funds not be used for removal of plaintiffs’ gates explicitly distances the federal government from Dallas’ intended action. View "Love Terminal Partners, L.P. v. United States" on Justia Law

by
The Eleventh Circuit lacked jurisdiction to consider the merits of petitioners' suit challenging the FAA's interpretation of 49 U.S.C. 47133 as set forth in a 2016 letter because the letter did not constitute final agency action. Section 47133 prohibits local taxes on aviation fuel from being spent on anything but aviation. The court held that petitioners' action came too late to challenge the FAA's policy clarification issued in 2014, and it came too early to challenge an FAA enforcement action that may never happen. View "Clayton County, Georgia v. Federal Aviation Administration" on Justia Law