COMMENTS SECTION CONTENTS SUMMARY POSTED WEEK OF 6/17/2013

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A. TRANSPORT MODE.

Aviation

  • REMARKS / National Transportation Safety Board Chair Deborah A.P. Hersman addressed the Wings Club of New York in a speech that emphasized the NTSB’s independence with respect to aviation safety as the NTSB’s role relates to the Federal Aviation Administration’s role, and states that the past 52 months’ absence of fatalities in commercial aviation “does not equal safety”. Former FAA Acting Administrator Joe del Balzo responds that Chair Hersman’s view is informed by the limits of her own professional background (U.S. Senate staffer and government official): “C]riticism is more powerful if the critic understands the capabilities of the criticized”. Comment: This tension of roles and professional backgrounds is healthy and necessary. That’s not a bromide: Even Babe Ruth needed umpires to call balls and strikes.  
  • REMARKS / After two major FAA/industry meetings and two years of formal comment-gathering, the FAA has finished its policy re-think about non-U.S. citizen trusts for ownership of aircraft on the U.S. registry (“N-registered”) as reflected in the Federal Register. Greg Cirillo, Esq. of Wiley Rein LLP has concise and excellent summary. Comment: Among various details, note that now the FAA will require filing not only of the relevant trust agreement to spell out the trustee / beneficiary relationship, but also any document that will “legally affect a relationship under that trust”.

Railroads

  • REMARKS / National Transportation Safety Board Chair Deborah A.P. Hersman on June 19, 2013 underscores NTSB’s policy priorities for rail sector safety in testimony to U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (actually, the Subcommittee with jurisdiction over surface transportation): Positive train control, operator distraction, and integrity of transportation infrastructure. Comment: Ongoing difference of opinion with U.S. Federal Railroad Administration about installation in all controlling locomotive cabs and cab car operating compartments of crash- and fire-protected inward- and outward-facing audio and image recorders.     

B. TRANSPORT POLICY TOPICS.

 Homeland Security

  • REMARKS / D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds Transportation Security Administration’s imposition of $18,000 fine on certified air carrier for its failure to implement security measures included in its security plan earlier approved by the TSA. Comment: Note  D.C. Circuit’s deference to TSA on certified air carrier’s petition for review. This is another step toward TSA as a U.S. Department of Homeland Security agency becoming more “regulatory” in character, and poses the question of whether or not TSA will be marked by “enforcement ambiguity” versus a predictable regime of sticks to supplement the carrots.    

C. AGENCY INITIATIVES.

No posts this week.

D. TOPICS BY LEGAL DISCIPLINE.

 No posts this week.

E. NOTEWORTHY CRIMINAL ENFORCEMENT, CIVIL ACTIONS or INSPECTOR GENERAL AUDITS.

No posts this week.