4. Factual findings
After considering all the testimony and evidence submitted by the parties, the undersigned
judge has come to the following factual findings. The Respondent, a Part 135 operator, is, and
was at all times relevant to this case, the holder of Air Carrier Certificate No. DRFA176M.3
During the relevant time period, the Respondent was the owner operator of civil aircraft N881A,
a Cessna Model 500-S550.4
On May 10, 2014, the Respondent's employees, Leigh Crumpton and David Uttz flew the
subject aircraft on passenger-carrying flights, ultimately landing in St. Paul, Minnesota.5 During
the flight, Mr. Crumpton noticed that the temperature reading on the OAT gauge seemed to
differ by two to four degrees from the temperature provided by the plane's flight management
system ("FMS").6 Further, Mr. Crumpton noticed that the left engine air intake anti-ice system
circuit breaker popped upon landing in St. Paul.?
The subject aircraft has a "failsafe" system, which ensures the left engine bleed air valve
stays open if the circuit breaker pops, causing hot air to go in "the inlet and stater valve at all
times."8 While the aircraft would continue to have anti-ice capabilities, the engine performance
could decrease due to the continuously open air valve.9 This could, in turn, pose a hypothetical
safety hazard on a missed approach, because the engine may not have the power necessary to
execute a go-around or for the desired climb rate.10 Due to its impact on an aircraft's power, the
anti-ice system generally remains off during takeoff."
Upon landing in St. Paul, Mr. Crumpton left the keys to the aircraft with a customer service
representative at Signature TECHNICAir ("Signature"), and contacted Dan Hill, the
Respondent's Chief Pilot and CEO, to request that someone look at the popped circuit breaker as
the use of circumstantial evidence in cases involving allegations of improper repair is not unusual, given the time it
takes to discover such violations).
3 See Complaint at 1 and Answer at 1.
See Complaint at 2 and Answer at 1.
See Complaint at 2 and Answer at 1. See also Ex. J-11 at 24; Transcript Volume 1 at 47-48; and Ex. C-1 at 5.
See Ex. J-11 at 24-25 and 31; Transcript Volume 2 at 15, 18, and 30-31; and Transcript Volume 3 at 50.
7 See Ex. J-11 at 29-31 and 67; Transcript Volume 1 at 285; Transcript Volume 2 at 12-13; and Transcript Volume 3
8 See Transcript Volume 2 at 139 and 143.
See Transcript Volume 2 at 139 and 143-144.
See Transcript Volume 2 at 279-281 and 291.
11 See Transcript Volume 2 at 294.
Docket No. FAA- 2015-0643
Initial Decision, page 3
well as the OAT gauge.12 Mr. Hill agreed to have someone look at the issues.13 Mr. Crumpton
did not otherwise document his concerns on the pages within the plane's logbook.14 Although
the Respondent's general operations manual requires pilots in command to record all
discrepancies in the discrepancy log, Mr. Crumpton's decision to contact Mr. Hill was consistent
with Mr. Hill's directive to call him directly when any problems arise with an aircraft before
logging the purported discrepancy.15
On Sunday, May 11, 2014, the Respondent contacted Signature to request a mechanic look at
these issues.16 The on-call maintenance person that weekend, Thomas Thunstrom, Signature's
chief inspector, was contacted by a customer service representative regarding a service inquiry
for the subject aircraft." After contacting Mr. Thunstrom, a Signature customer service
representative then relayed to the Respondent that the weekend callout rate required a minimum
charge for four hours of work at time-and-a-half.18 The Respondent decided to instead wait until
Monday to have the aircraft serviced.'
That same day, another of the Respondent's employees, Jennifer Johnson, arrived in St. Paul
to take over as first officer for David Uttz.20 Mr. Crumpton took Ms. Johnson to the aircraft to
familiarize her with its operation because she had never flown it before.21 While inspecting the
aircraft, Mr. Crumpton told Ms. Johnson that the left engine air intake anti-ice system circuit
breaker had popped and that mechanics were going to look at the OAT gauge because he
questioned its accuracy.22 That same day, Ms. Johnson overheard a telephone conversation
between Mr. Hill and Mr. Crumpton regarding the popped circuit breaker, during which Mr. Hill
stated "it was irrelevant, that there was nothing wrong with the anti-ice system, and that it was
12 See Ex. J-11 at 31 and 44-45 and Transcript Volume 2 at 14-16 and 45. In contrast, Mr. Hill testified that Mr.
Crumpton called him Sunday, May 11, 2014, regarding the accuracy of the OAT gauge, and asked to have it looked
at since the plane would be down for a day or two (Transcript Volume 3 at 50 and 137). Regardless of the exact
day, both witnesses agreed about the content of the phone call.
13 See Transcript Volume 2 at 16 (Judge Rawald: "And so what did Mr. Hill direct you to do in that conversation?"
Mr. Crumpton: "His comment to me is, 'I'm on it.'" Judge Rawald: "What did you think that meant when he said
`I'm on it?'" Mr. Crumpton: "That meant he's going to take care of the situation and have it looked at ...").
14 See Ex. J-11 at 31.
15 See Ex. J-11 at 31; Transcript Volume 1 at 36-37, 52-53, 289, and 341; and Transcript Volume 3 at 50-51.
Dan Hill - Mach One Air Charters - Chino CA
Unsafe operation of a private jet by Dan Hill and Mach One Air Charters(MOACI).
2 0 P
In The Matter Of:
Docket No. FAA-2015-0643
Mach One Air Charters, Inc.
Case No. 2014WP210018
Pertinent Procedural History
On November 4, 2014, the Complainant served the Respondent a Notice of Proposed Civil
Penalty in the amount of $40,000. On April 2, 2015, the Complainant served the Respondent a
Final Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty for the same amount.
On April 21, 2015, the Respondent filed a Request for Hearing. On April 28, 2015, the
Complainant timely filed its complaint, to which the Respondent filed a timely answer on May
11, 2015. The Complainant subsequently amended its complaint on June 15, 2015; the
Respondent amended its answer on October 4, 2016.
On May 28, 2015, Chief Administrative Law Judge Yoder assigned this case to an
Administrative Law Judge and then subsequently reassigned it to the undersigned judge on
March 21, 2016.
On December 2, 2016, the undersigned judge provided notice that a hearing would be held in
Riverside, CA, beginning on March 21, 2017.
Pursuant to an Order Finalizing Litigation Schedule, the parties submitted witness and
evidence lists to the undersigned judge on February 17, 2017. Based upon the submissions, on
February 24, 2017, the Complainant filed objections to the admission of five photographs and
ve videos proffered by the Respondent. The objections were overruled during a prehearing
conference on March 6, 2017.
The undersigned judge conducted a hearing from March 21 to 23, 2017, in Riverside, CA.
Lisa Toscano appeared on behalf of the Complainant; Steven Graff appeared on behalf of the
The parties submitted written posthearing briefs pursuant to 14 C.F.R. § 13.231(c) on May
Based upon the evidence presented at the hearing and the applicable law, the undersigned
judge has come to the following decision.
2. Summary of Complainant's Allegations
The Complainant alleges that on May 10, 2014, the Respondent discovered that the outside
air temperature ("OAT") gauge was unreliable and noticed that the circuit breaker for the left
engine air intake anti-ice system popped on civil aircraft N881A. Despite obtaining maintenance
for the aircraft, the Respondent allegedly failed to repair the equipment, in violation of 14 C.F.R.
§§ 91.405(a) and 135.413(a). The Complainant further alleges the OAT gauge was inoperable
and the circuit breaker could not be reset, resulting in the aircraft being unairworthy.
On May 12, 2014, the Respondent allegedly operated civil aircraft N881A on a flight from
St. Paul, MN, to Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling, IL, and then, on May 13, 2014, the
Respondent flew the same aircraft from Wheeling, IL, to Houston, TX. Before these flights, the
Respondent allegedly failed to repair either of the mechanical problems or obtain approval to
return the aircraft to service, thereby violating 14 C.F.R. §§ 91.7(a), 91.407(a), 135.25(a)(2), and
(a). Finally, the complaint alleges the operation of the aircraft in this linairworthy
condition was careless or reckless so as to endanger the life or property of another, in violation of
14 C.F.R. § 91.13(a).
For these alleged violations, the Complainant seeks a civil penalty of $40,000.
3. Standard of Proof
The pertinent regulations at 14 C.F.R. § 13.224(a) and (c) place the burden of proof on the
agency, except in the case of an affirmative defense, at which time the burden shifts to the party
asserting the affirmative defense. In accordance with 14 C.F.R. § 13.223, the burden of proof in
a civil penalty action is a "preponderance of reliable, probative, and substantial evidence."
Because circumstantial evidence can be reliable, probative, and substantial,1 a party may use
circumstantial evidence to sustain its burden of proof.2
1 See In re America West Airlines, FAA Order No. 96-3 at 31 (Decision and Order, Feb. 13, 1996) (referring to
certain circumstantial evidence as "strong").
See In re Continental Airlines, Inc., FAA Order No. 90-12 at 20 (Decision and Order, Apr. 25, 1990). See also In
re Florida Propeller & Accessories, Inc., FAA Order No. 97-32 at 7 (Decision and Order, Oct. 8, 1997) (noting that
Docket No. FAA- 2015-0643
Initial Decision, page 2