Articles Posted in Aviation

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Defendant Joseph Lynch, II was a first-class passenger on a flight from Philadelphia to Denver. Defendant had consumed at least six beers prior to boarding, and began behaving in a loud, unruly manner once the flight was underway. He repeatedly placed his hands on first-class flight attendant’s lower back as she was serving him beverages, which made her feel “very uncomfortable,” and she tried to move out of his reach each time. Flight attendants refused to serve defendant any more alcohol during the flight, at which point defendant became “irate” and started shouting obscenities to the cabin crew. Defendant was arrested upon landing; while in custody, he continued shouting expletives. A jury found Defendant guilty of violating 49 U.S.C. 46504, which prohibits the in-flight assault or intimidation of a flight crew member or flight attendant that interferes with his or her duties. He received a sentence of four months, followed by a three-year term of supervised release. On appeal, Defendant challenged the district court’s interpretation of the statute, the constitutionality of the statute, and the length of his sentence. After reviewing the district court’s sentencing decision, the Tenth Circuit found no evidence of error and affirmed defendant’s conviction and sentence. View "United States v. Lynch" on Justia Law

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Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust (TAIT) sought reimbursement for amounts it paid to a third-party contractor in furtherance of a noise abatement program funded primarily by grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Because its petition for review of agency action was not timely filed, The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the action. View "Tulsa Airports Improv. Trust v. FAA" on Justia Law

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At the heart of this appeal were The Boeing Company’s alleged violations of FAA regulations arising from aircraft Boeing sold or leased to the government. Three former employees of Boeing (referred to as relators) in this qui tam action, brought suit under the False Claims Act (FCA) against Boeing and one of its suppliers, Ducommun, Inc. The relators claimed Boeing falsely certified that several aircraft it sold to the government complied with all applicable Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, even though it knew parts manufactured by Ducommun and incorporated into the aircraft didn’t conform to FAA-approved designs. The district court granted Boeing’s and Ducommun’s respective motions for summary judgment on the relators’ FCA claims, finding no genuine dispute of material fact as to the falsity, scienter, and materiality elements of those claims. The district court also denied the relators’ motion to strike two FAA investigative reports, which the court then relied on in granting the motions for summary judgment. The relators then appealed. After review, the Tenth Circuit concluded the district court properly admitted the FAA reports under the Federal Rules of Evidence and the relators failed to establish the scienter element of their FCA claims. View "Smith v. Boeing Company" on Justia Law

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Defendant-Appellant Aaron Cope was convicted of one count of operating a common carrier (commercial airplane) under the influence of alcohol. On appeal, Defendant challenged his conviction based on improper venue, insufficiency of the evidence, and improper reliance on federal regulations. In 2009, Defendant was the copilot and first officer of a commercial flight from Austin, Texas to Denver, Colorado. Robert Obodzinski was the captain. Following the flight to Austin, Mr. Obodzinski invited the crew to dinner, but Defendant declined, stating that he did not feel well. Mr. Obodzinski did not see Defendant again until the next morning in the hotel lobby. Mr. Obodzinski testified that “[Mr. Cope] had a little bit of a puffy face, and his eyes were a little red, and I assumed that since he said the night before he wasn’t feeling well, that he was probably coming down with a cold.” The pilots flew from Austin to Denver that morning without incident. While in the cockpit, Mr. Obodzinski detected occasional hints of the smell of alcohol. When they arrived in Denver, Mr. Obodzinski leaned over Defendant and “took a big whiff,” concluding that the smell of alcohol was coming from Defendant Mr. Obodzinski contacted dispatch to delay the next leg of their flight, and contacted the airline's human resources officer. Defendant would later be indicted by the federal grand jury in Colorado. After a two-day bench trial, the district court convicted Mr. Cope and sentenced him to a below-guidelines sentence of six months in prison and two years of supervised release. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit concluded that the district court had sufficient evidence to find that Defendant was “under the influence of alcohol,” even if the district court relied on the FAA regulations or Republic Airways'[Defendant's employer] company policy, such reliance would have been harmless error. View "United States v. Cope" on Justia Law