Staff Report on the Enforcement Against B&C Specialty Products:
Documentation for the Bill Bainbridge Fiasco
A follow-up to Bill Bainbridge's public complaints at EAA AirVenture 1997.
|NOTE: An actual photographic copy of this report is also available here in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). It is approximately one megabyte long and takes several minutes to download over a dial-up connection.|
U. S. Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
800 independence Ave., S W
Washington D.C. 20591
FEB 17 1998
The Honorable Sam Brownback
United States Senator
225 North Market
Wichita, Kansas 67202
Dear Senator Brownback:
Thank you for your letter on behalf of Mr. Bill Bainbridge concerning his request for a copy of a staff report prepared by Mr. Bill O'Brien of our Aircraft Maintenance Division.
Enclosed is a copy of the "Staff Report on the Enforcement Action Against Specialty Products, Inc.," as requested.
If we can be of further assistance, please contact Mr. A. Bradley Mims, Assistant Administrator for Government and Industry Affairs, at (202) 267-3277.
Thomas E. Stuckey
Acting Director, Flight Standards Service
cc: Washington Office
B&C SPECIALTY PRODUCTS, INC.
SUBJECT: REVIEW B&C COMPLAINT
TO: Leo Weston, Acting Manager, AFS-300 through Gene Fowler, Manager, AFS-340
FROM: Bill O'Brien, AFS-340
At the request of the Acting Manager of AFS-300, Mr. Leo Weston, I was asked to review the public complaint to the Administrator that occurred at the "Meet the Boss" section at Oshkosh, WI on August 2, 1997 during the EAA Convention. The complaint was raised by Mr. William Bainbridge, President of B&C Specialty Products, inc., of Newton, KS. (See Attachment 1) The complaint is as follows:
On June 24, a Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty was sent to B&C specialty products, Inc. of Newton Kansas. The Notice stated that B&C Specialty violated Section 21.303(a) of the Federal Aviation Regulations because B&C sold an non-PMA approved alternator, model L40 and regulator, model LR3-14, to Mr. Christopher LeMay, an owner of a Piper Pa- 18- 150. This violation of section 21.303(a) is based on the fact that B&C supplied the purchaser with sample copies of FAA Form 337 that showed that the L40 alternator and LR3-14 regulator was previously field approved by the FAA for other installations in type certificated aircraft. Mr. Bainbridge denies the fact that he is selling unapproved parts. (See Attachment 2, Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty.)
Review of Facts:
1. On B&C specialty products L 40 Alternator and LR3B 14 Regulator installation instructions at the bottom of the page it clearly states that this part (L 40 Alternator) is not STC'd and is sold only for amateur built aircraft only. (See Attachment 3, Alternator and Regulator installation instructions)
2. A phone call to Mr. Bainbridge, president of B&C specialty products was made on 9/15/97.1 asked if the copies of the Form 337 were sent with the invoice for the parts in question. Mr. Bainbridge stated the sample FAA Forms 337 were not sent along with the invoice for the altemator as the Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty states because the sample Form 337 were sent to a Mr. Chris LeMay, of Soldotna, AK before the alternator was shipped.. Mr. Bainbridge's statement was confirmed by a telephone conversation I had with FAA inspector Grant Chapman of the Anchorage Flight Standards District Office. I asked Mr. Bainbridge to supply me a notarized statement that the FAA Forms 337 were not part of the invoice for the items in question. He complied and FAX me on 9/16/97 a notarized statement which stated that the sample Form 337 were sent to Chris LeMay prior to the purchase of the alternator and regulator. (see Attachment 4, Notarized statement)
3. If the sample previously approved (field approval) Fonn 337s, were shipped with the alternator/regulator or invoice the Form 337 the Form 337 would not be justify the fact that this was proof that B&C Specialty was producing non PMA parts for type certificated aircraft for the following reasons:
a. Each Form 337 when Block 7 is signed and the aircraft or component part is approved for return to service the form become a matter of public record and is available to everyone.
b. The sample Form 337 that B&C provided were not altered in any way. Such as deletion of the Block 1&2 information so the new purchaser could list his name and aircraft information in Block I and 2 of the Form 337. (See Attachment 5)
c. Any previously approved Form 337 can be used as "acceptable data" in accordance with FAA Order 8300.10, Volume 2, Chapter I, page 1-1, paragraph 5-9 to forth the basis for a Field Approval for a major repair or major alteration such as the installation of a non-PMA approved alternator. This is a long standing FAA policy. (See Attachment 6)
d. The B&C alternator installation was field approved on 4/27/97 by the FAA Anchorage FSDO, FAA airworthiness inspector, Mr. Grant Chapman (See Attachment 7).
1. I can find no evidence that B&C Specialty offered his products as a PMA approved part for TC products. In fact B&C went out of their way to print a warning on their installation instructions that the alternator and regulator were only to be used on amateur built aircraft. FAR section 21.303(a) was not violated by B&C.
2. The fact that "previously field approved Form 337" are used as acceptable data to form a bases for field approval has been FAA policy for at least the last 20 years (e.g. Tundra Tire Installations).
3. The alternator installation was granted a Field Approval by the FAA which in fact did "approve" the part. If the FAA field office did not approve the installation then the alternator installation would be considered an unapproved installation and would be a violation of section 21.303,
4 I have discuss this matter with Mr. Ken Reilly of AVR-20 SUPs Branch on 9/15/97 and he agreed that a violation of section 21.303 (a) did not take place.
5. On 9/15/971 called Mr. John Curry, of ACE -7 the lawyer who is handling this EIR (97CE 430010) He told me that this enforcement action was cleared at the highest levels in Washington (Carey Terasaki, and Peter Lynch of AGC-200). I told him out of courtesy that I will recommend that the violation be dropped due to insufficient grounds to prove a violation of 21.303 occurred . He got upset and said that Flight Standards does not have the right to interpret the rules only GC does and a complaint to the administrator at Oshkosh does not mean that the entire enforcement action should be question. I again told him that this was a courtesy call and that it was my intent, based on my review, was to recommend the violation be dropped Mr. Curry said this matter should be settled in court because there was no existing court decision was on the books. I said it would be a little tough on a small business man to pay 20 to 30 thousand dollars in legal fees to find out he was tight. Mr. Curry said that's how the system works. I ended the conversation politely.
6. The reason more and more owners of older T.C. aircraft are turning to amateur-built and ultralight manufacturers for replacement parts is due to the fact that many of the TC manufacturers who built aircraft from 1930-1970 time frame no longer support these older aircraft or are no longer in business. New or rebuilt 40 amp generators which were originally installed on the PA 18 aircraft are no longer made or available. The FAA Field approval process provides a method to keep the older aircraft in the General Aviation Fleet airworthy.
7. Safety and the airworthiness of the B&C Specialty alteration to the PA-18 are not an issue in the FAA enforcement action against B&C Specialty..
8. There are many products being sold for installation on aircraft that meet no specific FAA approval. For example tires, batteries, seals, tail skis, etc.
I recommend that the FAA Administrator or her representative request General Council to cancel the violation proceedings against B&C Specialty for the following reasons:
1. FAA case is based on the fact that the sample Forms 337 were sent along with the invoice which would prove that B&C Specialty intent was to sell un-approved parts to Type Certificated aircraft.
2. Mr. Brainbridge signed a notarized statement that the sample Form 337 were sent prior to Mr. LeMay purchasing the alternator/regulator from B&C Specialty.
3. Mr. Grant Chapman, FAA inspector who field approved the B&C Specialty installation on Mr. LeMay aircraft confirms Mr. Brainbridge statement in item #2.
4. Providing sample previously approved Form 337 to the local FAA inspector to show a bases for approved data is not only a sound practice authorized in FAA Order 8300.10 but is actively encouraged by the FAA field inspectors
5. The B&C Specialty Alternator Regulator installation was field approved by the FAA on 4/27/97. Which "approved" the alternator and regulator for the TC aircraft.