Copsey v. National Transp. Safety Bd.

Decision Date10 May 1993
Docket NumberNo. 92-9502,92-9502
Citation993 F.2d 736
PartiesHarry G. COPSEY, Petitioner, v. NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD, and Federal Aviation Administration, Respondents.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit

J. Scott Hamilton, Louisville, CO, for petitioner.

Edmund J. Averman, III (Peter J. Lynch, with him on the brief), Federal Aviation Admin., Washington, DC, for respondents.

Before EBEL and McWILLIAMS, Circuit Judges, and OWEN, District Judge. *

OWEN, Senior District Judge.

Petitioner Harry C. Copsey, an airline transport pilot, appeals the sixty-day suspension of his pilot's certificate by the National Transportation Safety Board ("NTSB") for violations of Federal Aviation Regulations ("FAR"): 1) operating an aircraft on a commercial cargo-carrying flight from Colorado to New Mexico when one of the plane's propeller blades was so damaged as to make the plane unairworthy and 2) failing to enter that condition promptly in the aircraft's maintenance log record.

Copsey had flown his twin-engine cargo plane into the Colorado Springs airport on the evening of February 22, 1988. While he was taxiing to the parking area, a propeller blade hit a cable, and was somewhat damaged. Copsey was not aware of this, but it was called to his attention the next day as he prepared to take off for Albuquerque. The damaged propeller blade, according to the mechanic's testimony, "had the tip, maybe one inch of it, maybe an inch and a half, two inches of it gone, jaggedly broken off or torn off, really, and it had a gouge in the blade, itself." Copsey was advised not to fly the plane in that condition, but he flew it to Albuquerque anyway. Upon arrival, in a routine surveillance, a Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") inspector noticed what he called "quite obvious" damage. At the hearing, the inspector testified that the damage was "significant" and "[t]he fact that it was gouged and torn could only indicate that it was not a question of would it fatigue. It was just a question of how long it would take in operation for that to propogate [sic] and result in a failure of the blade." He further stated that, according to numerous investigation reports, "the significance of a portion of the blade or the entire blade departing the propeller is the fact that a tremendous imbalance--considering the rotational speed of the propeller, ... results, which in many cases will simply tear the engine from its mounts, and it will depart the aircraft." Another inspector who had observed the damage to Copsey's propeller testified that if a propeller has such a nick in it, "the prop can break off in that area, and if you break the propeller off at that area, in some cases that engine will come right out of the airplane." The propeller was taken to a repair facility for repair, but was there determined to be damaged beyond repair.

At the subsequent hearing before an NTSB administrative law judge, in addition to extensive first-hand factual evidence, competent expert testimony was received to the effect that this damage to the propeller was such as to render it--and accordingly the aircraft--unairworthy 1 before take-off at Colorado Springs, and that the flight should not have been undertaken and the fact of damage immediately noted in the log.

On the record before him, which included Copsey's testimony, the FAA Administrator entered an order suspending Copsey's pilot certificate for sixty days.

Copsey appealed the said order to an Administrative Law Judge, who reduced the period of suspension from sixty days to fifteen days, and then waived imposition of the reduced suspension stating that Copsey had timely filed a report and that the violation was not intentional. The full Board, however, reinstated the sixty day suspension, finding that the violation of FAR § 135.65(b) (requiring the immediate entering of all mechanical irregularities arising during flight time into the aircraft maintenance log) was intentional. The Board also concluded that although Copsey may not have been aware of the damage until he inspected the propeller before his takeoff on February 23, and hence could not be held responsible for not having logged the irregularity the day before, nevertheless he should have logged it before the February 23 flight. The Board found that Copsey chose to disregard the evidence that the propeller damage caused the plane to be unairworthy, and that his takeoff was an intentional violation of FAR § 91.29(a) (prohibiting operation of an aircraft in an...

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7 cases
  • Goetz v. U.S., 98-1155-JTM.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Kansas
    • May 23, 2000
    ...An agency's findings of fact are conclusive when they are supported by substantial evidence in the record. Copsey v. National Transp. Safety Bd., 993 F.2d 736, 738 (10th Cir.1993); see also Rapp, 52 F.3d at 1515 ("Evidence is substantial under the APA if it is enough to justify, if the tria......
  • Gojet Airlines, LLC v. Fed. Aviation Admin.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
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    ...certificate approved for that model aircraft and must be in a condition for safe operation. See14 C.F.R. § 3.5(a); Copsey v. NTSB, 993 F.2d 736, 738 n. 1 (10th Cir.1993).2 The type certificate issued for each aircraft model includes the aircraft's original design specifications and “terms r......
  • Dickson v. Kolodziejczyk
    • United States
    • Court of National Transportation Safety Board
    • October 5, 2021
    ... ... NTSB Order No. EA-5909 No. SE-30357 United States Court of National Transportation Safety Board October 5, 2021 ... Adopted ... But see, e.g. , Copsey v. NTSB , 993 F.2d ... 736, 739 (10th Cir. 1993) (a pilot's decision ... ...
  • Presidential Aviation Inc. v. Fed. Aviation Admin. Fed. Aviation Adm'r
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    ... ... of law. See Ed Taylor Const. Co. v. Occupational Safety ... &Health Rev. Comm'n, 938 F.2d 1265, 1271 (11th ... Cir ... "flyability." Copsey v. Nat'l Transp ... Safety Bd., 993 F.2d 736, 739 (10th Cir. 1993) ... ...
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