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the earnest efforts of the Administration and the Board, the backlog of safety cases which are carried over from year to year is increasing rather than decreasing
During the fiscal year 1946, 428 complaints seeking suspension or revocation of safety certificates were filed with the Board by the Administrator. In fiscal 1947, 881 such cases were filed, and for the first 9 mines of fiscal 1918, 660 were filed. Despite the fact that the number of such cases disposed of each year increased from an annual rate of 300 in fiscal 1945 to 760 in the current fiscal year, the backlog of such cases pending before the Board has increased from 94 on July 1, 1915, to 707 at March 31, 1918. As can be readily seen, this is approximately 1 year's work for the Board's present staff of safety hearing examiners.
Finally, there is reason to believe that there may be reluctance on the part of the enforcement officers to institute suspension and revocation proceedings in face of the size of the backlog and the period of time during which the complaint will be hanging over the head of the alleged violator, with the result that the number of suspension and revocation cases is less than might be received if the docket were reasonably current.
The foregoing figures are not, however, the whole story, for they cover only the suspension and revocation proceedings before the Board. The Administrator handles all violation cases in which only civil penalties are sought. The Administrator's figures, including all types of cases, show that 1,087 such cases were instituted in fiscal 1946, 1,788 such cases in fiscal 1947, and 2,642 in the first 10 months of fiscal 1948. Despite a great increase in the number of cases disposed of, the backlog increased from 187 pending July 1, 1945, to 922 pending on July 1, 1947. We do not have any more recent figure as to the Administrator's backlog, but the foregoing serve to indicate the scope of the problem.
This is not merely a transitory situation; it is reasonable to believe that unless an unprecedented staff expansion were to take place that the backlog is likely to increase in view of rapid rate of growth in air traffic. A few figures will serve to illustrate the expansion in civil aviation that has taken place in the past 10 years. In 1938 there was a total of 22,983 pilots of all ratings holding airman certificates. In 1941 the total was 129,947, in 1945 it had reached 220,000, and in 1947 the total was 455,000. These figures indicate an increase in the number of pilots of almost 2,000 percent since the act was passed and an increase of over 100 percent in two postwar years. The aircraft figures are equally significant. From a total of 10,814 certificated planes in 1938, the number had grown to 31,584 on June 30, 1945, and to 93,920 on June 30, 1947, a threefold increase in 2 years. It is obvious that with increases of such proportions in aircraft and persons authorized to operate them, the number of violations of applicable regulations must also increase manyfold, despite any efforts to simplify the regulations.
In terms of Board staff, the number of safety-enforcement hearing examiners on the Board's staff was 6 in fiscal 1946, 10 in fiscal 1918, and 15 were provided for in the appropriation requested of Congress for fiscal 1949.
State and Federal aviation officials have for some time recognized the need for uniformity in the regulation of safety in civil aviation and the desirability of cooperation in the enforcement of the established safety standards. However, some States have sought through the independent exercise of State legislative power to establish State regulations which the State would then have power to enforce. On the other hand, many State officials and other persons active in aviation have realized that such an independent approach tends to impose an undue burden on air commerce and, with the conviction that uniformity of regulation is essential to the progress of aviation, have sought to reach this objective of uniformity through uniform State aeronautical laws. In accordance with this approach, uniform State regulatory acts have been drafted and proposed at various times by such organizations as the American Bar Association, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, and the National Association of State Aviation Officials. However, the adoption of the uniform State aviation regulatory acts is, as a practical matter, not a satisfactory solution to the problems of uniform regulation of air safety and cooperative enforcement.
The sum total of American experience with the efforts to accomplish uniformity of regulation of any subject matter in the 48 States overwhelmingly testifies to the extreme difficulty of the task. There have been relatively few uniform State acts which have reached the statute books of the States—the uniform negotiable instruments laws and the Uniform Sales Act are two notable exceptions-and they required the efforts of a generation to accomplish their enactment. In fact, the Sales Act has not yet been adopted by all of the 48 States. It will be noted that a total of some 70 model uniform State acts have been approved during the past
50 years by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and adopted by 1 or more of the States, and of all those uniform State acts only 2 mentioned above have been enacted by a substantial number of the States. This history is readily understandable. As applied to aviation, it is not surprising that it has proved to be a difficult and largely unsuccessful task to persuade the legislatures of 48 States to agree upon a uniform aeronautical code. It would have been surprising if the opposite were true. As a matter of fact, only 4 States adopted the Uniform Aaeronautical Regulatory Act prior to its being withdrawn in 1943 by the National Conference of ('ommissioners on Uniform State Laws principally on the basis that the Federal Government had occupied the field and only 18 States are currently governed by the Uniform State Aeronautics Act.
My purpose is not to be critical of the States for failing to agree upon uniform State acts or in requiring a long period of time to be convinced in the few instances in which they have adopted such laws, but rather to recognize the realities of the situation confronting civil aviation. If it be assumed that uniformity is required, we believe it evident that it cannot be achieved through State action.
The facts have led to the belief by many people, including many who have had experience with efforts to enact uniform State legislation, that uniformity in air safety regulation can only be accomplished by vesting responsibility for prescribing the regulations in the Federal Government and that the problem of enforcing the regulations so prescribed can best be met by a plan whereby the States would share in this function.
This solution, involving as it does State and Federal cooperation to achieve the national goal of the fullest possible development of civil aviation, is not without precedent. As early as 1883 the Supreme Court observed with approval that the Federal Government has “from the time of its establishment
been in the habit of using, with the consent of the States, their officers, tribunals, and institutions as its agents
*" (United States v. Jones, 109 U. S. 513, 519). There are many modern examples of such cooperation. For instance, the Migratory Bird Conservation Act authorizes, under certain conditions, cooperation by State officers in enforcement of Federal regulations (16 U. S. C. 715 (p)). So does the Plant Quarantine Act (7 U. S. C. 156), and so did the 1906 Food and Drug Act (21 U. S. C. 12; repealed 52 Stat. 1059 (1938)). The use of State judicial officers and city mayors to make arrests of Federal offenders and bring them before committing magistrates is a long-standing example of this cooperation (18 U. S. C. 591, 595). The problems faced in the enforcement of the National Prohibition Act were met in part by the participation of municipal police, and such participation has been recognized by the Supreme Court (Gambine v. United States, 275 U. S. 310 (1927)). These are but a few of the many examples of State enforcement of Federal law which may be cited. It is, therefore, clear that the solution proposed by S. 2452 is not a novel one.
S. 2452 undertakes to provide legislative authorization for this type of FederalState cooperation in relation to air safety. It would permit any State courts or State agencies to exe se func ons of enforcement with respect to Federal safety regulation which are now vested exclusively in the Board, the Administrator, and the Federal courts. It apparently permits collection of civil penalties as prescribed by the Civil Aeronautics Act by a State in proceedings brought in a State court for any violation of the Federal safety regulations except those relating to operation as an air carrier. It also authorizes a State court or State agency, after notice and opportunity for hearing, to suspend for a period not exceeding 6 months any airman certificate for a violation of a Federal air-traffic rule. In addition, such court or agency is given the power to suspend, for a period not exceeding 6 months, any airworthiness certificate, airman certificate, or air agency certificate for such violations of any regulations promulgated under title VI of the act as the Board shall from time to time designate. None of the foregoing are applicable to certificated air carriers or their employees, however, for the bill furthr provides that it shall not be applicable with respect to any air carrier holding a certificate of public convenience and necessity or with respect to any act or omission of any employee thereof while acting for the carrier.
The bill also clearly extends the safety jurisdiction of the Board to include all intrastate flights and movement of aircraft upon an airport and then restricts State legislation in the field thus occupied by the Federal Government without the express consent of Congress. The bill would, therefore, prevent the States from participating in the regulation of air safety but would open the State courts to actions for the enforcement of Federal safety regulations and would authorize the State to participate as fully as it desires in the enforcement of such regulations through the establishment and staffing of an aviation agency.
The Board strongly supports the principle providing for concurrent State enforcement of Federal safety regulations. It is believed that such a program is a practical necessity over the long range to avoid the needless building up of a Federal police force of considerable numbers. It seems desirable to make provision for the inauguration of such a program so we can gain the benefit of experience in its administration and can develop the necessary techniques of cooperation before the need which it is designed to meet becomes even more pressing
The exact manner of implementing the general program of cooperative enforcement does present problems to which there is no categorical answer. Hence, while agreeing in principle with this proposed legislation, the Board has a number of suggestions which it would like to make with respect to the manner in which S. 2452 attempts to solve the problems.
Sections 1 and 2 of the bill are apparently designed to broaden the scope of the Civil Aeronautics Act by substituting the words "air navigation" as defined in the bill for the words "air commerce” wherever they appear throughout the act. Air navigation includes the operation or navigation of aircraft on any airport in the United States or in the airspace over the United States and to or from a point in the United States. This extension of the Board's jurisdiction would vest in the Board complete safety jurisdiction over intrastate as well as interstate flights. As already explained, however, the effect of this extension is not as great as it might at first appear, for the Board is already empowered to regulate such intrastate flights as affect or might endanger the safety of interstate and foreign operations and in pursuance thereof has promulgated regulations requiring airmen and airworthiness certificates for all operations within the United States.
It will be noted that the proposed definition of "air navigation" would restrict the Board's existing authority over flights wholly outside the United States when connected with commerce between the United States and a foreign country. The Board suggests that this definition be amended so as to give the Board jurisdiction over United States registered aircraft at all times. Such amendment would not only preserve existing jurisdiction but would extend it to cover flights outside the country which are unconnected with direct foreign commerce. Extension of the Government's power to regulate, in the interests of safety, aircraft of United States registry, wherever they may be, appears to us to be desirable, and indeed necessary, to implement the obligation assumed by the United States by article 12 of the Chicago convention “to adopt measures to insure that every aircraft carrying its nationality mark, wherever such aircraft may be, shall comply with the rules and regulations relating to the flight and maneuver of aircraft there in force."
Objection has been voiced to the proposed substitution of "air navigation” as defined in the bill for "air commerce” in the mistaken belief that this change would in some way enlarge upon Federal economic jurisdiction and conflict with the State's present economic power over intrastate commercial operations not a part of interstate flight. The words "air commerce" do not appear in title IV of the act from which the Board's economic regulatory powers stem. Consequently, the proposed change will in no way enlarge or otherwise affect such powers. Moreover, while the Board's present safety powers are granted in terms of power over "air commerce,” the existing definition of such term goes far beyond commercial intercourse, and, as previously pointed out, the change in terms, while more clearly descriptive of existing safety powers, does not materially extend the power presently being exercised by the Board and sanctioned by the courts.
Section 3 of the bill, which would add a new section 611 to the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, presents important questions. Basic to the discussion of this whole section is the question of whether the States should be empowered to enforce the Federal regulations only through their courts, or whether State administrative agencies, when authorized by local law, should also be utilized for this purpose. The argument for allowing State agencies to act is that generally administrative officials will have more aviation knowledge than will a court and will tend to have a more intimate and close working relationship with the staffs of the Federal agencies having air-safety responsibilities. The countervailing argument is that very few of the State agencies are set up to handle problems of this character, and their prime interest is in executive rather than adjudicatory functions and activities. Consequently, the State officials may not be chosen with their qualifications to perform such a function in mind. However, it is the Board's belief that if the States are to participate in the enforcement of Federal regulations, the program should not be commenced with the idea that the States will do it improperly and that State agencies will be inept in the handling of such matters. If the State desires to enforce Federal regulations through a State agency and is prepared to implement that desire by providing appropriate machinery, it should be permitted to do so.
We have confidence that, on the whole, the States will take appropriate steps to provide for the proper administration of any functions which they assume pursuant to the authority of this bill. Nevertheless, we recognize that most States do not now have an aviation agency which is organized or equipped to handle matters of this character. Consequently, the Congress may believe it proper to make provision in the bill that responsibility for the suspension of certificates shall not be exercised through a State agency until tbe Federal agency responsible for enforcement of safety regulations has certified that the State has by legislation made appropriate provision for the functioning of such agency in respect to these matters. Provision for some such certification process, which has precedent in the Migratory Bird Act and other legislation, seems preferable to any effort by definition or otherwise to establish the specific criteria which must be met by a State agency before it is authorized to undertake the function of hearing suspension proceedings.
Section 611 (b) raises a question which is also common to 611 (c) and (d); that is, the jurisdiction of the State courts or agencies over violations occurring outside the boundaries of the State. It will be noted that section 903 (a) of the Civil Aeronautics Act provides rather specifically for venue, whereas the present bill apparently does not deal with the problem of the locations of violations coming within the jurisdiction of a particular State. It is, therefore, suggested that the bill be amended to provide that the courts or agency of any given State shall exercise such concurrent jurisdiction as is given it by the bill only with respect to any violations which occur within the borders of such State.
It is also suggested that proposed paragraph (b) requires redrafting so as to designate more clearly the “civil penalties" referred to.
Section 611 (c) would give a State agency or court the power to enforce, by suspension of the airman certificate of any violator, air traffic rules promulgated by the Board under section 601 (7) of the act, such suspension not to be in excess of 6 months. The question of the maximum length of time for which States should be authorized to impose suspension of a certificate has been the subject of considerable discussion. In this connection it will be noted that the National Association of State Aviation Officials and the National Aeronautical Association have both concurred in recommending that the period be 90 days. It is argued that provision for a maximum suspension of 90 days would prevent a State court or agency from unduly injuring the holder of an airman certificate through the imposition of too severe sanctions, either by reason of unfamiliarity with the subject matter or through local prejudice against the holder of the certificate. There is an understandable feeling that it is desirable to proceed slowly and cautiously. However, the basic purpose here is to enable the States to take appropriate actions looking toward the protection of the safety of their citizens and to enlist the aid of the States generally in relieving the Federal government of the burden of enforcemnt. A 12-month period would coincide with the maximum period for which the Board suspends certificates and would permit the State agencies to correlate their activities to conform to the punishments that the Board metes out in like cases. Such a period would assure a substantial degree of uniformity as between the Federal and State enforcement agencies in connection with suspension of airman certificates and would avoid the undesirable situation of determining whether State or Federal jurisdiction should be exercised with respect to a particular violation in terms of the penalty which might ultimately be determined to be appropriate. Accordingly, the Board recommends that the maximum period of suspension provided in the bill be changed from 6 to 12 months.
It will also be noted that section 611 (c) authorizes a State court or agency without prior notice to defendant to suspend an airman certificate for a period not exceeding 30 days, provided that prior to the termination of such period the alleged violator shall be given an opportunity for hearing. While the power thus given to the State is an extremely broad one, it is believed that it is appropriate if the State is to take a full part in enforcement of safety regulations and if the necessity for any State regulations is to be completely negated.
Section 611 (a) would authorize any State court or agency to suspend for a period not exceeding 6 months any airworthiness certificate, airman certificate, or air agency certificate for such violations of safety regulations as the Board
shall from time to time designate. The effect of this provision is to permit the Board to expand and delineate by regulation the jurisdiction of the State courts and agencies. Such a concept appears not only to be a highly novel one but in the form in which it appears in the bill does not set forth any standard for the guidance of Board action in making any such designation. It is, therefore, suggested that if the committee feels that this is a desirable power to vest in the Board, it is highly desirable, and perhaps even constitutionally necessary, that the legislation specify appropriate standards for its administration. If, however, the committee were to decide to limit the State's jurisdiction over certificates to suspensions of an airman's certificate for violation of the air traffic rules, it is believed that the same considerations would require that proposed paragraph 611 (b) be similarly limited so that the State's authority to impose civil penalties be coextensive with its certificate suspension powers.
Section 611 (h) of the bill makes inapplicable the power therein previously granted to State courts and agencies as against air carriers and employees of air carriers where the air carrier holds a certificate of public convenience and necessity. It is not believed that the requirement of holding a certificate of public convenience and necessity is a desirable or proper one for determining when no State jurisdiction shall exist, in view of the fact that a large number of the air carriers that are legally operating today do not operate pursuant to certificates of public convenience and necessity but do so under letters of registration issued by the Board pursuant to sections 292.1 and 292.5 of the economic regulations. However, the act requires, and every such air carrier holds, an air carrier operating certificate issued by the Administrator under section 604 of the act. The possession of such an operating certificate would appear to be the sound basis for determining exemption from State jurisdiction. It is also clear that the States should not be given jurisdiction over violations by foreign air carriers. It is, therefore, believed that this paragraph should be amended to exempt from the provisions of the bill an air carrier or any employee thereof where that air carrier holds an air carrier operating certificate and also to exempt any foreign air carrier operating pursuant to a foreign air carrier permit.
Section 4 of the proposed bill amends title 8 of the act to provide for the nniform regulation of safety in air navigation. In this regard, the_bill is specifically preempting the field of safety regulation on behalf of the Federal Government and prohibits the several States or political subdivisions thereof from imposing, without specific authorization from Congress, any prohibition or requirement relating to the same subject matter as in the provision of title IV of the Civil Aeronautics Act. This provision would prevent the States from requiring pilots or aircraft to have State safety certificates, or otherwise from imposing intrastate operations different or higher requirements than those imposed by the Federal Government. As a matter of policy, the Board deems it unwise to permit States to burden aviation with duplicating and unnecessary regulations and hence in principle is in favor of the Federal Government occupying the field of safety regulation to the exclusion of the States. The Board, however, has had little occasion actually to experience the effects of such State regulation as exists today. It is believed that a much more accurate picture of the problems it poses, and that evidence of any burdens resulting from such additional requirements as do exist, should be obtained from those who have had occasion to come into direct contact with State regulation.
The Board does not feel that exclusive Federal regulatory authority requires that the States should be prohibited from imposing criminal sanctions for serious and willful misconduct in the operation of aircraft. Nor does it believe that State sanctions for such misconduct contravene the policy embodied in the present act that mere violations of aeronautical regulations shall be enforced on a civil rather than a criminal basis. Legislation which would authorize the States to impose criminal sanctions should, however, be carefully drawn to prevent a State from establishing, for example, a separate State air traffic system on the basis of criminal sanctions. The Board would also recommend that the States be authorized to impose a registration fee, as distinct from a safety license, on aircraft owned by its residents. Such fees are a normal source of revenue for the State, and the proceeds might well be used to defray, at least in part, the expense entailed in enforcing the Federal regulations.
It is clear that any system which envisages the enforcement by one group of regulations issued by another calls for the closest type of cooperation between the organizations involved and that no program such as that contemplated by section 2452 could be successful unless the States were to participate in the formation of the regulations they were asked to enforce. The