A recent NTSB decision resulted in a paradoxical outcome for the airman. In Administrator v. Bennett the Board was faced with an airman’s request for a stay, pending appeal, of an ALJ’s order suspending his ATP certificate for 90 days, suspending all of his other airman certificates for 60 days and revoking his medical certificate. In analyzing the airman’s request, the Board first stated its policy with respect to stays pending judicial appeals:
“We 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 this standard, the Board granted the airman’s request for a stay with respect to the suspension of his airman certificates, but denied his request for a stay of the order revoking his medical certificate. Noting the paradoxical result of its decision, the Board commented in a footnote that:
“Because of the range of sanctions imposed on respondent, across different certificates, our adherence to precedent results in respondent’s retention of pilot certifications but a loss in the ability to utilize them. We are cognizant that the practical result of our refusal to stay the revocation of respondent’s medical certificate will be that respondent likely cannot exercise the privileges of his airman certificates, suspension of which have technically been stayed. This outcome is consistent with the precedent of this Board.”
This is a good example of winning a battle, but losing the war. Unfortunately for the airman, his victory in obtaining a stay of the suspensions of his airman certificates pending his appeal is negated by the Board’s unwillingness to grant a stay of the revocation of his medical certificate. However, from a legal perspective, it is helpful to know that the Board will be consistent in the application of its policy regarding stays of orders suspending a certificate for less than 180 days, regardless of whether application of the policy results in a paradoxical outcome.
Consistency in the application of law/policy is, for the most part, a good thing, whether you agree with the law/policy or not. With consistent application, at least you know what to expect.