The NTSB Board recently released an opinion affirming an ALJ’s denial of an airman’s application for airplane multi-engine land rating for his private pilot certificate. In Petition of Beamer, the FAA denied the airman’s application based upon its inability to determine if the airman possessed the necessary qualifications to hold an airman certificate. Apparently the FAA Inspector with whom the airman took his checkride was in the FAA’s Certificate Management Office (“CMO”) for Delta Air Lines, in Atlanta, overseeing Delta’s operations under its FAA-issued operating certificate but was not in fact authorized to administer checkrides. The airman appealed the FAA’s denial and then further appealed the ALJ’s denial of his petition.
On appeal, the Board noted “that petitioner’s attempts to litigate the scope of Inspector Spych’s authority are not cognizable. It is unfortunate that petitioner was apparently led by Inspector Spych to wrongly believe that he was receiving an official, sanctioned FAA practical test, particularly so because petitioner incurred expenses to rent a multi-engine aircraft for the 2.4-hour flight portion of the practical test. Nevertheless, this is a safety proceeding, and the Administrator, as head of the regulatory agency that issues airman certificates, is entitled, solely at her discretion, to designate who is authorized to evaluate the qualifications of airman applicants on her behalf.” I guess this rules out asserting any “apparent authority” arguments against the FAA. Not surprisingly, Inspector Spych is also currently subject to an FAA personnel action.
More interestingly and to the point is a footnote to the Board’s opinion stating that “[w]e admit some dismay that petitioner has gone through all the effort involved in this proceeding, when he could have simply sought another, valid practical examination through the FAA’s local Flight Standards District Office or an authorized Designated Pilot Examiner.” I agree. Whether the airman should have known that Inspector Spych was not authorized to administer checkrides is open to debate. However,when the airman found out the inpsector was not authorized, why didn’t he just retake the checkride with a designated examiner who was authorized? What a waste of time and resources to appeal a denial when the remedy is so much quicker and easier.
I suspect that something else must have been going on that was not explained in the Board’s opinion. Maybe the airman didn’t think he could pass the checkride with another examiner. Maybe he just has too much time on his hands. Maybe he just likes arguing. Whatever the case, based upon what I personally believe to be a lack of good judgment exhibited by the airman in unduly burdening the administrative appeals process, I am happy he is not flying around multi-engine aircraft.