FAA Defends Itself In Brinell Case

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Agency Officials Faulted...

If you have a beef with the way the FAA has treated you during an investigation, you may soon be able to have all the facts reviewed by a third party. That's part of the fallout resulting from the crash of a Cessna Citation near Branson, Mo., on Dec. 9, 1999, which killed all six on board. While the NTSB ruled pilot stress, fatigue, rainy weather and poor visibility contributed to the crash, particular focus has been placed on the two Kansas City FAA officials who were accused of harassing pilot Joe Brinell. The pilot's wife, Grace Brinell, told investigators her husband was distressed by what he perceived as FAA harassment after he responded to enforcement actions by the Flight Standards District Office against one of the College of the Ozarks' mechanics and its aircraft repair station. Joe Brinell, who was aviation director at the College of the Ozarks, flew the Citation into a wooded hillside five miles from the College of the Ozarks' airport at Point Lookout in mist and fog. In subsequent months, the agency said a review of maintenance records had prompted the FAA to re-examine Brinell's competency. The district office abandoned the effort after Brinell appealed to FAA regional headquarters in Kansas City. Two weeks before the accident, district officials asked for Brinell's pilot logbooks, saying they thought he had administered flight tests without appropriate authorization.