Monday, February 6, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

D.C. Circuit Upholds Clipping of Pilot’s Wings

(CN) - The D.C. Circuit denied the petition of a pilot whose license was suspended for flying a commercial plane without the appropriate license. Michael Charles Gorman claimed he could not have violated a regulation on cargo transportation in planes with fewer than 20 passenger seats, because the planes he used had no passenger seats.

Two FAA safety inspectors had seen Gorman's airplane displaying "Charter advertising" in March 2007. When questioned by one of the inspectors, Gorman said he did not need an Air Carrier Certificate to operate his business.

He was grounded by the FAA for one year, by an emergency order stating that each of the two aircraft Gorman operated had "a passenger-seat configuration of less than 20 seats" and a "payload capacity of less than 6,000 pounds" and his operation of the flights "constituted non-common carriage or private carriage operations, for compensation or hire," triggering the certification and operations specifications.

Gorman appealed, and a hearing was conducted by a National Transportation Safety Board administrative law judge, who denied Gorman's petition.

Judge Henderson ruled that while Gorman's planes did not have any passenger seats, the revocation of his license was appropriate because the phrase "airplanes having a passenger seat configuration of less than 20 seats" can be applied to airplanes that have zero passenger seats.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.