6/96, Complaint To FAA For Emerg Order Revocating Valujet's Operating Certificate


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION
WASHINGTON, D.C.

DANNY H. BELL; JENNIFER L. BELL; RICHARD H. BELL, Individually and as Heirs of the Estate of TERRI BELL;
B. JACK WATKINS; D. ANN WATKINS; and
J. CHAD JONES, Individually and on Behalf of HOPE MEDEIROS, a Minor;
TAMI SCHRAMM; JERRY W. JONES, Individually, and as Heirs of the Estate of JUDY MEDEIROS; and
ANNETTE NEWELL, Individually, and on Behalf of HOPE MEDEIROS, a Minor,
and as Heirs of the Estate of ROBERT MEDEIROS;
Complainants,

v.

VALUJET AIRLINES, INC.,
Respondent.

Docket No. ___________

COMPLAINT SEEKING EMERGENCY ORDER REVOCATING VALUJET'S AIR CARRIER
OPERATING CERTIFICATE

COME NOW Complainants, Danny H. Bell, Jennifer L. Bell, Richard H. Bell, Individually, and as Heirs of the Estate of Terri Bell, B. Jack Watkins, D. Ann Watkins; J. Chad Jones, Individually and on Behalf of Hope Medeiros, a Minor, Tami Schramm, Jerry W. Jones, Individually, and as Heirs of the Estate of Judy Medeiros; and Annette Newell, Individually and on Behalf of Hope Medeiros, a Minor, and as Heirs of the Estate of Robert Medeiros, complaining of ValuJet Airlines, Inc. ("ValuJet"), 1800 Phoenix Blvd., Suite 126, Atlanta, Georgia, 30349, and alleging as follows:

1. Complainants are survivors of Terri Bell, Judy Medeiros and Robert Medeiros, passengers killed in the crash of ValuJet Flight 592 on May 11, 1996. See generally NTSB Preliminary Report, DCA96MA054.

2. This Complaint is brought to the Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA"), in accordance with Special Federal Aviation Regulation 72, Section 13.5, based on information discovered during the investigation of the crash of ValuJet 592, as well as in FAA memoranda, correspondence, reports, and publically reported statements of government officials. Months before the crash of ValuJet 592, the FAA expressed concern that ValuJet was not meeting its duty to provide service with the highest possible degree of safety as required by section 44702 of Public Law 103-272. ValuJet continues to operate and maintain its aircraft in an unsafe manner. See FAA Aircraft Maintenance Division (AFS-300) report dated February 14, 1996; FAA letter of February 29, 1996, to ValuJet President Lewis Jordan; preliminary draft report, FAA's ValuJet "Special Emphasis Program," dated May 6, 1996 (cited in Washington Post, June 11, 1996).

3. The Complainants allege that ValuJet is the holder of an Air Carrier Operating Certificate number VJ6A465W issued by the FAA and is subject to the Federal Aviation Regulations ("FAR") promulgated by the FAA.

4. ValuJet violated and continues to violate FAR 121.105 by failing to show that competent personnel and adequate facilities and equipment (including spare parts, supplies, and materials) are available at such points along the certificate holder's route as are necessary for the proper servicing, maintenance, and preventive maintenance of airplanes and auxiliary equipment. See FAA Aircraft Maintenance Division (AFS- 300) report, dated February 14, 1966; preliminary draft report, FAA's ValuJet "Special Emphasis Program," dated May 6, 1996 (cited in Washington Post, June 11, 1996).

5. ValuJet violated and continues to violate FAR 121.363(a)(1) and (2) by failing to insure "the airworthiness of its aircraft," and "the performance of maintenance . . . of its aircraft" in accordance with its manual and the FAR's. See FAA Aircraft Maintenance Division (AFS-300) report, dated February 14, 1996; FAA letter to ValuJet President Lewis Jordan, dated February 29, 1996.

6. ValuJet violated and continues to violate FAR 121.365 by failing to have a maintenance "organization adequate to perform the [maintenance] work." See FAA Aircraft Maintenance Division (AFS-300) report, dated February 14, 1996; FAA letter to ValuJet President Lewis Jordan, dated February 29, 1996; preliminary draft report, FAA's ValuJet "Special Emphasis Program," dated May 6, 1996 (cited in Washington Post, June 11, 1996).

7. ValuJet violated and continues to violate FAR 121.367(a), (b) and (c) by failing to have a sufficient maintenance inspection program to insure maintenance is performed in accordance with the certificate holder's manual, competent personnel and adequate facilities and equipment are provided for the proper performance of maintenance and each aircraft released to service is airworthy and has been properly maintained for operation. See FAA Aircraft Maintenance Division (AFS- 300) report, dated February 14, 1996; preliminary draft report, FAA's ValuJet "Special Emphasis Program," dated May 6, 1996 (cited in Washington Post, June 11, 1996).

8. ValuJet violated and continues to violate FAR 121.371(a) by failing to insure aircraft maintenance inspections are carried out by appropriately certified, properly trained, qualified and authorized personnel. See FAA letter to ValuJet President Lewis Jordan, dated February 29, 1996; preliminary draft report, FAA's ValuJet "Special Emphasis Program," dated May 6, 1996 (cited in Washington Post, June 11, 1996).

9. ValuJet violated FAR 121.373(a) by failing to "establish and maintain a system for the continuing analysis and surveillance of the performance and effectiveness of its [maintenance] inspection program." See FAA Aircraft Maintenance Division (AFS-300) report, dated February 14, 1996.

10. ValuJet violated 49 CFR Section 175.30, by accepting hazardous material in the form of oxygen generators for transportation aboard an aircraft that was not properly authorized, marked or identified. These oxygen generators had been scrapped from other ValuJet aircraft undergoing maintenance at SabreTech, Inc. in Miami, Florida. See Statement of Richard D'Arcy, ValuJet maintenance employee, dated May 19, 1996 (available on Internet); NTSB Preliminary Report Aviation DCA96MA054.

11. The Secretary of Transportation is charged with the responsibility of "assigning and maintaining safety as the highest priority in air commerce." 49 U.S.C. Section 40101(a)(1).

12. ValuJet maintenance and operations are unsafe and this pattern of unsafe operation and maintenance is ongoing. The Secretary of Transportation and FAA Administrator have failed to enforce federal statutes against ValuJet Airlines, Inc. and now appear to have placed the promotion and development of ValuJet Airlines, Inc. above the safety of the traveling public in direct contravention of the clear mandate of 49 U.S.C. Section 40101 (a)(1).

13. The Secretary of Transportation and FAA Administrator are also charged by federal statute with the responsibility of "preventing deterioration in established safety procedures, recognizing the clear intent, encouragement, and dedication of Congress to further the highest degree of safety in air transportation and air commence, and to maintain the safety that has evolved in air transportation and air commerce and has come to be expected by the traveling and shipping public." 49 U.S.C. Section 40101(a)(3).

14. The disproportionate allocation of government inspectors assigned to ValuJet in an effort to keep it flying has unreasonably and arbitrarily diverted essential safety inspection and enforcement resources away from other areas of air transportation and has allowed a deterioration of established safety procedures throughout the air transportation system in direct contravention of the clear mandate of 49 U.S.C. Section 40101 (a)(3).

15. Oxygen generators scrapped from other ValuJet aircraft at SabreTech, Inc. were improperly located into the forward cargo compartment where the fire erupted on ValuJet 592. NTSB Preliminary Report Aviation DCA96MA054. The FAA Aircraft Maintenance Division report of February 14, 1996 recommended consideration of an immediate re-certification of ValuJet based on known safety-related issues. That report focused, in part, on ValuJet's inadequate General Maintenance Manual which had conflicting provisions, violated FAR's, and significantly did not address "parts scrapping procedures."

16. Prior to the crash of ValuJet Flight 592, the FAA was aware of numerous continuing safety violations by ValuJet Airlines, Inc. In a February 29, 1996 letter to ValuJet Airlines, the FAA expressed concerns "that ValuJet is not meeting its duty to provide service with the highest possible degree of safety." The FAA has heretofore concealed this important information from the traveling public. The preliminary draft report, FAA's ValuJet "Special Emphasis Program," dated May 6, 1996 (cited in Washington Post, June 11, 1996) demonstrates that ValuJet's safety violations are continuing.

17. The arbitrary reduction in the number of flights by ValuJet following the crash of Flight 592 and the initiation of additional special FAA inspections, are admissions by ValuJet and the FAA that ValuJet is not "fit, willing, and able to provide the transportation authorized by the certificate," as required by 49 U.S.C. Section 41110(e)(1).

18. While negotiations are ongoing to obtain adequate maintenance support, ValuJet continues to operate aircraft maintained by the admittedly unsatisfactory contract maintenance facilities. ValuJet has publicly admitted that its maintenance practices are inadequate and is attempting to reach agreements with qualified maintenance facilities to maintain its aircraft. The preliminary draft report, FAA's ValuJet "Special Emphasis Program," dated May 6, 1996 labeled ValuJet's procedures for quality control of its maintenance facilities "inadequate." This is further admission by the FAA and ValuJet that ValuJet is not "fit, willing, and able to provide the transportation authorized by the certificate." 49 U.S.C. Section 41110(e)(1).

19. The FAA has demonstrated a pattern of inaction and non-enforcement regarding ValuJet's noncompliance with federal statutes and regulations enacted to protect the safety of the public. ValuJet has operated at the advisory or alert threshold during the majority of its brief existence as evidenced by the results of the FAA NASIP Inspection Program, with known safety related issues including the absence of adequate policies and procedures for maintenance personnel to follow. See FAA Aircraft Maintenance Division (AFS-300) report, dated February 14, 1996.

20. The FAA's authorization of continued ValuJet operations under Air Carrier Operating Certificate VJ6A465W poses a significant threat of irreparable harm by allowing unsafe air transportation and requiring the unreasonable diversion of essential FAA safety inspection and enforcement resources away from other critical areas of air transportation.

21. ValuJet, in spite of blatant violations of federal law that continue to this day, and admissions that it cannot safely perform the transportation authorized by its Air Carrier Operating Certificate, continues to fly and carry passengers, creating an immediate threat to aviation safety, endangering the lives and property of others. The crash of flight 592 and the resultant loss of 110 lives could have been prevented had the FAA followed the clear mandate of the law demanding that ValuJet be grounded until it can operate safely. Innocent passengers and unsuspecting crew members should not be placed at continued risk on ValuJet aircraft.

WHEREFORE, Complainants demand the Administrator immediately issue an Emergency Order of Revocation of ValuJet's Air Carrier Operating Certificate number VJ6A465W pursuant to Special Federal Aviation Regulation 72, Section 13.20 and require ValuJet to show cause why its authority to operate an airline in air commerce should not be permanently revoked until such time as ValuJet has demonstrated that it is fit, willing, and able to safely maintain its aircraft and provide transportation authorized by its certificate as required by law.

Respectfully submitted, On the 12th day of June, 1996

_______________________________________
JOHN HOWIE, JON KETTLES
HOWIE & SWEENEY, L.L.P.
Suite 1400, Park Place on Turtle Creek
2911 Turtle Creek Boulevard
Dallas, Texas 75219
(214) 523-8800

and

JOSEPH E. SCHMITZ, LAWRENCE H. BRINKER
PATTON BOGGS, L.L.P.
2550 M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037
(202) 457-6068

ATTORNEYS FOR COMPLAINANTS

-----
Brought to you by - The 'Lectric Law Library
The Net's Finest Legal Resource For Legal Pros & Laypeople Alike.
http://www.lectlaw.com

Google+