The NTSB recently rejected an airman’s argument that a revocation of his airman’s certificate should be vacated because his appeal of the conviction upon which the revocation was based was pending and not yet decided. In Administrator v. Schlieve, the airman was convicted in Federal court of several drug-related felonies and sentenced to serve 160 months in prison.
The FAA then issued an emergency revocation order revoking the airman’s certificate based upon his alleged violation of FAR 61.15(a)(2)(conviction for any state or federal drug statute is grounds for suspension or revocation). Although the airman appealed the FAA’s order, Judge Mullins granted the FAA’s motion for summary judgment and affirmed the FAA’s order of revocation. The airman then appealed to the full NTSB arguing that the revocation should be vacated because the felony conviction was not final since his appeal of the conviction was still pending.
The Board rejected the airman’s argument stating that “[t]he pendency of that proceeding does not justify a delay to ours.” It also repeated its judgment in a prior case that “[T]he better result from a safety policy perspective is to reconsider the revocation action if, in fact, respondent’s conviction is overturned, not to postpone it based on a respondent’s expectation.” The Board further noted that the revocation was not a lifetime revocation under 49 U.S.C. 44710, but rather a revocation justified under 49 U.S.C. 44709 “when safety in air commerce or air transportation, and the public interest, dictate.”
The arguments raised by the airman are not novel and have been settled with the NTSB for quite some time. Also, even if the revocation was vacated, I am not sure what the airman would have accomplished. He certainly won’t be flying for another 160 months, unless the appeal of his conviction is successful, in which case any order of revocation could certainly be vacated at that point in time(although I recognize that could take several months during which time the airman would be out of prison, but not authorized to fly).
Since the airman was appearing pro-se, perhaps his appeal was simply a diversion from his daily grind in the big house. Unfortunately, precedent was against him. Maybe he will have more success appealing his felony conviction.