Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Float Rating and FAA Certificate Action

I waited a year to tell THIS story :-)

I had a great time getting my float rating.  I flew this Supercub out of Laughlin, NV/Bullhead City, AZ down the Colorado river, landing and taking off all day.  It really was fun, in shorts and Tevas, 85F with the door open, wading through the warm water... :-)

The reason (other than I'd always wanted one) that I got the rating is because the FiddleAssAssociation wanted me to redo the checkrides for my Commercial and my Multi. They had retroactively de-certified the examiner I took those rides with and sent re-ride (the so-called "709") letters for 559 certificates, affecting hundreds of students. My letter said I had to surrender my license or redo them within 30 days or the FAA would pursue legal action against my certificate. 

My certified letter did not say this, but I looked the actual action up in the Federal Register and it offered the option of obtaining another rating, from a different examiner, in lieu of the re-rides.  

I called the FAA every day for 4 days without a callback or being able to talk to the Inspector in charge.  Apparently I was on a deadline but they were not. On the fifth day I told the receptionist that I'd get a call back that day or I was going to my US Senator and the FAA Regional director, which did the trick.  In about 5 minutes the FAA guy in charge called me back and confirmed that a float rating would protect my Commercial license and my Multiengine rating from "legal action". 

The FAA Inspector in charge said he needed to know which examiner I would be riding with so I provided the FAA with his name, the ride date, etc., and was told that as soon as I emailed them a copy of my temporary certificate, they would issue a letter saying there would be no action against my license.  The FAA guy was really pleasant, helpful and seemed to be overworked and stuck in the middle of the entire mess - which originated at the District level, not with the local office.  There were only two guys assigned to managing 559 certificate actions on a 30 day deadline. 

The float rating was about 4 days faster and $5000 cheaper than taking the other rides. So... did the ride, got the rating, had a great time. :-)  

1.  Coming out of Bullhead City at 0630, going 15 over the speed limit because I had a long way to go, I got pulled over. AZ has a crazy law: 
Officer "I can give you a 200 dollar 4 point ticket for speeding or an 80 dollar no point ticket for 'wasting finite resources'. "
Me "Do I get to choose?"
Officer "No, I get to choose but you HAVE been very cooperative."

2.  Subsequent to emailing a photo of my temp certificate to the FAA Officer in charge and being assured I would get a letter that said the entire thing had gone away... the FAA permanently suspended the examiner I'd taken the float ride with.  The same guy that they had pre-approved me to use.  Anecdotally, they suspended most of the Examiners at several big flight schools in AZ, NV and FL.

So I sweated that for about a month, and then received the letter saying this was all behind me. So it's all OK in the end.

But I'm still not a big fan of the FAA.  To put it mildly.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

AK to AZ 2013

Since Jake does a much better job than I, I'll just defer to him again...