A recent NTSB opinion provides a good summary of the Board’s policy on granting a stay of sanction pending appeal. In Administrator v. Wesley, the airman requested a stay of a 180 day suspension ordered by an ALJ. Summarizing its policy on granting stays, the Board quoted an earlier opinion in which it stated “[w]e generally grant a stay when a suspension of less than six months [180 days] is affirmed, and consistently deny stays in cases involving certificate revocation because revocation incorporates a conclusion that an airman lacks the qualifications required of a certificate holder. Cases involving suspensions of six months or more are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, considering the seriousness of the violations.”
Applying its case-by-case analysis to the pending case, the Board noted that the airman “operated as PIC on four passenger-carrying flights when he did not hold the required type rating and did not have the required proficiency checks” and that he acted deliberately because “‘[h]e knew what he was doing. He was determined to do it.'”. Based upon these facts, the Board stated that “the seriousness of the violations in this case counsel against a stay.”
In reviewing this opinion, it seems to me that the Board’s supposed case-by-case analysis of suspensions of six months or more is a bit misleading. If an airman’s violation justifies a suspension of 180 days or more, the conduct is probably serious enough that the Board will deny a request for stay. Now, I haven’t done a search of past NTSB cases to see just how many stays have been granted in cases with suspensions of 180 days or greater. However, the Board cites at least three cases in its decision in which a request for such a stay was denied. My guess is that few, if any, of those requests have actually been granted. Thus, it is more likely that the case-by-case analysis in reality results in a de facto denial. But, I guess it does sound better if the Board tells us that it is reviewing the facts, rather than stating outright that requests for stays of suspensions of 180 days or greater are automatically denied.