Lafayette Avionics/FAA inspector problems

Lafayette Avionics, Inc.
1632 Aviation Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47906
Phone: (765) 743-3828
Fax: (765) 743-0000
Located in Hangar #7
Purdue Airport (KLAF)
Email: josh@avionics-laf.com
Repair Station KH2R952K
Aug. 14, 2007 updated.

May 29, 2002: Proposed Civil Penaltys with 22 counts sent to Lafayette Avionics. Proposed fines on counts $15,400.00. Had AEA lawyer Jason Dickstein to represent us.

Nov 2002: Had informal hearing with FAA lawyer Eileen Weikel Johnson. The meeting ended with the FAA lawyer stating that they needed to do more investigating. We waited almost 2 years to hear from the FAA lawyer. We have tried to get the FAA lawyer to tell us what is going on but the lawyer didn't return our calls or our lawyer's calls or emails.

Aug. 2, 2004: Lawyers are now talking about manual updates and civil action.

Late 2004 we finally asked for a judicial hearing and that got some response. The FAA lawyer told our lawyer that they were going to take our repair station certificate. Our lawyer said they couldn't do that without safety of flight issues. FAA lawyer told our lawyer that they will be dropping the civil actions and fines.

January 2005: We received a letter dated January 19, 2005, stating the withdrawal of Proposed Civil penalty by taking administrative action. Still more delays and problem still not yet completely solved. Finally in 2006 our newly assigned avionics inspector gave us a letter stating that the administrative action had ended.

After spending over $20,000.00 in lawyer fees and an undetermined amount of wasted time all is OK now. My advice to any one who has an over zealous inspector is to not wait, but, hire a good aviation lawyer to put the inspector in his proper place. If anyone wants to discuss their problems call Ronald Wright at 765-743-3828.

Our Letter to Mr. Kupletz follows.

Jason Dickstein 
Admitted in DC, NY and VA 
Law Offices of Jason A. Dickstein
734 15th Street, NW
Suite 705
Washington, DC 20005
Telephone: (202) 628-6776 
Facsimile: (202) 628-8948

November 19, 2004 
By First Class Mail and
by fax to: (847) 294-7498

Perry Kupletz, Regional Counsel 
Federal Aviation Administration 
Great Lakes Region Headquarters 
O’Hare Lake Office Center 
2300 East Devon Avenue 
Des Plaines, IL 60018

Dear Mr. Kupletz; 
I am writing to you to report a very disturbing exchange between me and one of your attorneys, Eileen Weikel Johnson.

The exchange arises in the context of a civil penalty case brought against a repair station, Lafayette Avionics. We met with the FAA in 2002 for an informal conference at which we demonstrated to the FAA that each of the accusations was baseless. After that informal conference we sent letters and left phone messages asking for a resolution but received little response. Finally, in April of 2004, we sent a letter asking the FAA to issue a final order of civil penalty so that we could take the matter to a hearing.

In response to that request for a complaint, Ms. Johnson suggested that the case could be dispositioned through a settlement agreement if my client agreed to make changes to its Part 145 manuals. We received the list of changes in June and had them implemented by July. Most of these suggestions were unsupported by any regulation, but my client implemented them anyway in order to conclude this case pursuant to the settlement agreement – my client was tired of waiting for a resolution after two years.

The Inspector in this case recently implied to my client and yesterday, Ms. Johnson confirmed that she intends to issue an additional list of change demands. On the phone, I asked her what regulatory issues remain to be addressed and she gave me an example that had no regulatory support – instead she chose permissive language found in an advisory circular and cited it as if it was a regulation itself. She could not cite a single problem with my client’s manuals that reflects a failure to meet a published regulatory standard.

I insisted that she either settle the case based on our original terms (which have been fully met), or else issue the complaint associated with the case so that my client may pursue the due process to which he is legally entitled. In response, she threatened to issue an emergency order of suspension against my client unless we agree to implement her as-yet unpublished list of additional concerns. She explained that the basis of this emergency order of suspension would be my client’s failure to provide an acceptable set of Part 145 manuals. The ‘unacceptable’ portions of the manuals, though, are additional (as-yet unspecified) clauses that she and her inspector want implemented. I believe that they will bear no resemblance to any regulatory requirement because she has been unable to cite a single regulatory requirement that remains unmet through our many phone conversations since April.

There is neither a safety issue nor a regulatory violation associated with my client’s Part 145 manuals; therefore Ms. Johnson’s threat of an emergency suspension is simply blackmail – her threat, if carried out, would unjustly deprive my client of his rights under color of law with no better justification than our insistence that she permit us our day in court.

Mr. Kupletz, when an FAA attorney threatens an unsubstantiated emergency suspension in response to a respondent’s request that the norms of due process be observed, it subverts the guarantees found in the Constitution and the Administrative Procedures Act. This tarnishes the image of the government, and of the government lawyer.

We are not asking for much. All we are asking for is that the FAA make good on its settlement agreement, or, if the FAA intends to renege on this settlement agreement (as it appears to be doing) then we ask that we be permitted to bring the underlying case to a hearing.

In addition, though, I am also asking that you take steps to prevent your attorneys from threatening unfounded emergency suspensions as a negotiating ploy. Should the FAA bring an unfounded emergency suspension action against my client in retribution for our refusal to submit to the Ms. Johnson’s threats, we intend to take appropriate action to hold the government accountable for this misuse of power.

Very truly yours,

Jason Dickstein

The Withdrawl letter follows.