FAA Kind Of Admits It Was Wrong…


Arizona ADIZ “Violator” Cleared

Faced with overwhelming evidence, it seems even the FAA can admit it’s wrong … sort of. In September, AVweb brought you the strange tale of Arizona pilot Dale Mooneyham, who was facing the FAA’s wrath for alleged violations in the Washington Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on the same day that he was actually flying his G-model Mooney from Chandler, Ariz., to Tucson to visit his ailing parents. Thanks to his devotion to Mom and Dad, Mooneyham was able to assemble fuel receipts and tower tapes in a veritable mountain of evidence showing that he and his Mooney were indeed in Arizona on the day of the alleged ADIZ bust. As Mooneyham speculated, it was some kind of error that (virtually) placed his plane near Washington. Although he didn’t hear that from the FAA, they did send him a letter. After our story appeared, Mooneyham was contacted by AOPA officials offering to help. They got on the phone to contacts in the FAA and reported back to Mooneyham that an FAA staffer had transposed figures in the offending aircraft’s N-number while typing the violation report into the computer. Whoever is in charge of these things then looked up the wrong number on the FAA database to incorrectly identify Mooneyham’s plane as the offender. But there’s no hint of explanation, much less apology, in the terse, two-paragraph certified letter the FAA sent to Mooneyham in mid-October, only the finding that the alleged violation didn’t occur. It also seemed in this case the FAA was quick to accuse (enforce) but not so speedy to admit defeat (absolve). Mooneyham had the notice of violation within 10 days of the alleged incursion — the note absolving him took more than a month to arrive. Mooneyham’s next step is to request proof that his FAA records contain no reference to the alleged violation … and he may be taking bets on how long that will take.