May 8, 2013
Hon. Michael Huerta
800 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20591
Hon. Ray LaHood
Secretary of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Secretary LaHood and Administrator Huerta:
Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. Section 46109 and 5 U.S.C. Section 553, 554, FlyersRights.org, the Aviation Consumer Action Project and the undersigned hereby petition the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation to permit them to be named as intervener parties in the proceedings concerning any relief from the FAA grounding order of the Boeing 787 of January 2013 due to battery failures and fires, and for any related proceedings dealing with the ETOPS certification of this airliner. We also are requesting that an ad hoc advisory committee be appointed of independent battery experts and that a docket be opened to allow public comment on the battery fix proposed by Boeing to resolve the high failure rate and fires in its 787 Dreamliner airliner.
FlyersRights.org is the largest non-profit airline passenger organization with over 25,000 member supporters, many of whom are frequent fliers who would be directly affected as passengers by the safety or lack thereof of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It advocates for the rights and interests of airline passengers, publishes a weekly online newsletter and operates an emergency telephone hotline for airline passengers and a confidential tips hotline. It was founded in 2007 by Kate Hanni after she was stranded on the tarmac with 10,000 others by American Airlines for many hours and ultimately led to the adoption of the 3 hour rule by the DOT and passenger rights legislation contained in the 2012 FAA Reauthorization Act. It receives no funding from the airline industry.
The Aviation Consumer Action Project (ACAP) is a non-profit corporation founded in 1971 to act as a voice for air travelers on national aviation issues, especially safety and consumer rights. It has been a principal advocate for truth in scheduling, lost baggage and bumping compensation, medical kits on airliners, realistic emergency evacuation testing, smoking ban, airline competition, and strengthening of aviation security. Its activities include public education, publication of consumer guides and research reports, testimony before legislative committees, and serving on national advisory committees (FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (1997-present, FAA/TSA Aviation Security Advisory Committee (1997-2007), ASHRAE Committee on Cabin Air Quality), representation of aviation consumer interests in rulemaking comments and litigation.
I am president of the FlyersRights.org since 2012 and have been executive director of ACAP since 1997, am a frequent air traveler. As an attorney I have concentrated on representing airline passenger interests for over 20 years.
As set forth in the enclosed memorandum with exhibits containing expert opinions, the FAA and DOT should limit any relief from the grounding of the Boeing 787 due of battery failures and fires to at most flying within 2 hours of the nearest airport, pending comprehensive testing of its proposed battery fix and a period of at least 24 months of trouble free operations. This position is supported by substantial independent expert opinion, prior experience with the lithium ion batteries and prior certification decisions and precedents by US and other regulatory authorities.
Our proposed actions are both urgent and necessary considering the large financial and reputational stakes for Boeing and the US aviation industry, the serious public hazard posed by 787 battery failures, the extraordinary delegations of authority granted to Boeing by the FAA to test and certify its 787 batteries and the lack of robust testing or safe operation experience with the 787 lithium ion batteries.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and for your full and careful consideration of this petition.
Paul S. Hudson
Cc: Susan Kurland, Assistant DOT Secretary for Aviation
Hon. Deborah Hersman, Chairwoman, NTSB
Calvin Scovil, DOT Inspector General