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is to protect federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially whistleblower retaliation. In a letter sent to the White House and Congress the OSC urged FAA to

strengthen oversight of air safety. According to OSC, FAA “has one of the highest rates of whistleblower filings per employee of any executive branch agency.” The letter presented statutorily mandated reports on the seven most recent FAA whistleblower disclosures. OSC cites allegations of incorrect night vision goggle retrofits for

emergency service helicopters and insufficient oversight of Delta Air Lines’ inspection and maintenance program. OSC mentions reports that Delta’s maintenance specs were not in compliance with airworthiness directives regarding the fuel tank and electrical wiring interconnection systems. The OSC also cites “sharply critical findings by FAA’s own internal watchdog unit.”

3. 767 AD Expanded

In response to additional reports of cracks in 51 fail-safe straps on 41 Model 767-200, -300, and -300F series airplanes, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an expanded airworthiness directive (AD) that supersedes the existing regulation. The new AD expands the applicability and adds an inspection for cracking in the fail-safe strap and repair or replacement if necessary. The final rule, published on May 7, becomes effective on June 11, 2012. The AD will affect an estimated 390 U.S. airplanes.

4. Cessna AD

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Cessna Model 560XL airplanes to head off the possibility of brake failure. Published May 3, the AD was prompted by reports of wheel inserts becoming loose and damaging brake assemblies, the agency says. The AD requires: inspection of the torque lug and surrounding components for damage; inspection of the bearing cup for corrosion, turned cup, or clearance that exceeds limits, and repair as applicable; measuring the torque lugs for width and replacing screws and inserts with new, improved screws and inserts; and re-identifying the wheel assemblies. Effective June 7, 2012, the AD affects an estimated 473 U.S. aircraft and could cost U.S. operators up to $3.5 million.

5.Turbomeca AD

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has adopted an airworthiness directive (AD) for all Turbomeca Arriel 2B and 2B1 turboshaft engines, prompted by the discovery of non-conformities of certain power turbine (PT) blade fir-tree roots. The AD requires removing the affected PT blades from service on or before reaching a new reduced life limit for those PT blades. The FAA says the AD is intended to prevent PT blade rupture, which could result in an uncommanded in-flight engine shutdown, forced autorotation landing or accident.

6. ACs Advisory?

A recent non-maintenance case is interesting because it deals with the status of advisory circulars (ACs). Although ACs would seem self-evidently advisory, they may enjoy “implied preemption” over state law if Congress is viewed as intending to dominate every aspect of aviation safety. AC standards can also become mandatory if they are incorporated into edicts or contain conditional language. A California appellate court in March, however, ruled that ACs are indeed advisory, at least in the context of state tort law, notwithstanding arguments of federal standards’ preemption under the Constitution’s supremacy clause. For more see Sierra Pacific Holdings, Inc. v. County of Ventura.

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