In a recent opinion, Administrator v. Giannola, the NTSB affirmed the FAA’s revocation of a student pilot’s combined student pilot/third-class medical certificate for carrying a passenger on a flight. The FAA initiated the enforcement case after it discovered that the student pilot carried his wife along on a flight in which he was acting as pilot-in-command (“PIC”). The FAA issued an emergency revocation order based upon alleged violations of FARs 61.89(a)(1)2 (student pilot prohibited from acting as PIC of an aircraft that is carrying a passenger.) and 91.13(a) (careless and reckless). In his answer to the FAA’s order/complaint, the airman admitted that he had acted as PIC on a passenger carrying flight. The ALJ then granted the FAA’s motion for summary judgment and affirmed the FAA’s revocation order.
On appeal, the airman argued that factual issues existed which precluded the ALJ’s grant of summary judgment and he further argued several affirmative defenses to the charges. The Board made short order of the airman’s arguments. First, the Board found that the airman’s admission to operating the flight in question established the FAR 61.89(a)(1)2 violation. Next, it dismissed the affirmative defenses as inappropriate attempts to justify the airman’s conduct. Finally, the Board found that, consistent with precedent, a student pilot’s operation of an aircraft with a passenger exhibits a lack of qualification, is careless and reckless and justifies revocation.
You just have to wonder, “what was the airman thinking?”