It is nice to see that the NTSB is following the Ramaprakash line of cases delineating the timing for calculating the six months necessary for a stale complaint defense to an FAA enforcement action for a violation of FAR 61.15.
On remand from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in Ramaprakash v. Federal Aviation Administration, the NTSB’s opinion followed the D.C. Circuit and granted the airman’s motion to dismiss based upon the stale complaint rule. The Board held that “for purposes of applying our stale complaint rule in the context of certain alleged reporting violations [the FAA’s due diligence] should be judged from the point when comparison of National Driver Register (“NDR”) information and the results of an “NLETS” national database query indicated that the airman incurred an alcohol-related motor vehicle action”.
In Administrator v. Schrader, a subsequent case involving assertion of the stale complaint rule as a defense to an FAA enforcement action for an airman’s violation of FAR 61.15, the NTSB followed the Ramaprakash rulings and held that “in FAR 61.15(e) cases . . . the Administrator’s due diligence, for purposes of challenge under the stale complaint rule, shall be assessed by reference to the time when FAA personnel receive NDR information which may include information about an airman that could support a conclusion that reporting requirements had not been observed.”
These cases make it much easier to determine whether a stale complaint defense is available. They also limit some of the deference previously provided to the FAA and require greater due diligence from the FAA before it can take enforcement action against an airman for an FAR 61.15 violation.