L-39 low pass
On 6th November 2008, Riggs flew an Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros, a Soviet-era, Czech-built military jet trainer, too close to State Beach. The pilot of the aircraft was convicted for several counts which include; operating an aircraft in a reckless manner thus violating the laws that have been set up by FAA. He also violated the policies that are set up by the state of California where he carried out his activities. The pilot of the jet disregarded federal aviation regulations by flying too low along the shoreline thus endangering the lives of other people on the ground. Riggs also performed aerial display which he did not have permission from the concerned authorities to do so. The aircraft crashed and killed two experienced pilots in which Riggs was acting as the Director of the alleged aviation-themed movie they were shooting. The Federal Aviation Administration is responsible for setting aircraft certification standards and ensuring that manufacturers and suppliers meet those standards, conducting safety oversight of pilot training and general aviation operations, and safely integrating aircraft and equipment into the national airspace (Dillingham, 2013).This essay analyzes the L-39 low pass accident, specifics of the event, laws that were violated, and enforcement actions after the completion of the investigation and the legal arguments that were presented.
The event occurred when a jet raced along the shore at less than 100 feet thus creating a wake on the ocean and the lifeguard in Tower. The Federal Aviation Administration requires that a jet should race over one thousand feet over populated areas so as to ensure that the lives of those people on the ground are not in danger in case of an emergency. Federal Aviation Administration regulations set out the minimum operating altitudes for different kinds of aircraft that operate in the airspace of the USA to ensure the safety in case of emergency landing. Generally, outside of takeoff and landing, the law that has been crafted by FAA dictates that aircrafts must be operated at an altitude that allows the aircrafts to easily land during emergencies without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface. In crowded areas, the regulations dictate that an aircraft must operate one thousand feet above the highest obstacle. The minimum operating altitude over non-congested areas is five hundred feet above the surface; in addition, an aircraft may not be operated closer than five hundred feet to any person or structure(Dolan and Thompson 2013).These set of laws are meant to ensure that those people on the ground are safe in case of an emergency landing.
Riggs was flying a jet as low as fifty feet above the ground in an effort to promote a movie that his company was shooting. His actions violated the policies that have been put in place by FAA on the ideal altitude that one can fly a jet in crowded and sparsely populated areas. A group of people paid for a flight package which was to be forty five minutes long and at the end each participant was to be given a video clip of the flight. Most of the victims stated that they were taken to Van Nuys Airport where they were briefed that there could be four flights; in which two flights could happen before lunch and the other two after lunch when the aircrafts have been refueled. The accident occurred during the third flight when the jet developed mechanical problems leading to the death of two people.
After thorough investigation by the concerned stakeholders, it was discovered that Riggs violated laws that have been put in place by FAA due to his reckless actions. He was arrested, held for sixty days and later charged with flying too low over the Santa Monica pier and violating the laws of the US by not requesting for permission as required by the law to conduct an Ariel display. FAA is responsible for granting permission to carry out aerial display and taking films (Rule, 2015). Riggs was a producer of a company that was promoting a movie that his company wanted to produce. FAA is mandated to establish regulations addressing flight dispatch procedures, pilot training standards, and safety technologies and to collect detailed data on safety records (Federal Civil Aviation Programs, 2013).
Riggs violated some of the provisions that are found in the federal aviation act and was thus ordered to a pay six thousand dollars as a fine in court. He was also ordered to clean beaches for sixty days as a deterrent to his reckless actions that led to the destruction of property. Riggs was also asked to surrender his license for engaging in activities that violated the laws and policies of FAA. A court in California overturned the withdrawal of the license to a suspension for some few months. The license of Riggs was reinstated few months later on where he continued with his illegal activities till his death in a crash in 2012. It is evident that at the time of the crash, Riggs was using his jet to offer services that he was not permitted to offer by FAA, for instance, carrying passengers.
Dillingham, G. L. (2013). Is the Federal Aviation Administration Making Sufficient Progress on Safety Initiatives? Congressional Digest, 92(6), 13-19.
Dolan, A. M., & Thompson II, R. M. (2013). Integration of drones into domestic airspace: selected legal issues. Current Politics and Economics of the United States, Canada and Mexico, 15(1), 107.
Federal Civil Aviation Programs: Overview of FAA and DOT Airline and Airport Programs. (2013). Congressional Digest, 92(6), 2-32.
Rule, T. A. (2015). Airspace in an Age of Drones. Available at SSRN 2482567.