In yet another case in a long string of cases, the NTSB has affirmed an administrative law judge’s dismissal of an airman’s untimely appeal of an FAA order of suspension. In Administrator v. Sepulveda, the FAA sent a Notice of Proposed Certificate Action (“NPCA”) to the airman proposing to suspend the airman’s certificate. The airman did not respond to the NPCA and the FAA then issued an order suspending the airman’s certificate for forty five days. Although the airman appealed the order, he filed his appeal with the NTSB three days late. The administrative law judge subsequently granted the FAA’s motion to dismiss the airman’s appeal based upon the untimely filing.
On appeal to the full NTSB Board, the sole issue was whether the airman had shown “good cause” for his untimely filing. In rejecting the airman’s appeal, the Board stated that “[h]aving kept his father’s address as his official address on file with the FAA while he apparently was living elsewhere, he was obliged to check that address for FAA mail, especially since a Notice of Proposed Certificate Action had been sent to him. The situation that caused the delay in respondent’s becoming aware of the Order of Suspension was of respondent’s own making.”
This isn’t the first time an airman has argued that an untimely appeal was the result of the airman’s designation of his or her parents’ address for FAA purposes. It is also not the first time that the Board has rejected this argument. Although the practice of designating an official address with the FAA that may not be where the airman spends a great deal of time is fairly common, airmen who do so need to take steps to ensure that they are promptly notified of any mail from the FAA. The NTSB will not consider any delay in receiving or responding to mail from the FAA due to untimely receipt of the mail from the airman’s parents’ address supported by good cause.