A-63248, APRIL 17, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 919

A-63248: Apr 17, 1936

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TRANSPORTATION CHARGES - CHARTERING OF PRIVATE AIRPLANE - FORCED LANDING WHERE THE SOLE PURPOSE OF A GOVERNMENT OFFICER IN CHARTERING A PRIVATE AIRPLANE WAS TO MEET AN EMERGENCY AND SUCH PURPOSE WAS DEFEATED BY A FORCED LANDING SHORT OF DESTINATION DUE TO THE POOR MECHANICAL CONDITION OF THE PLANE. BY THE LANGUAGE USED IN THE NOTICE OF EXCEPTION APPARENTLY CONCEDES THE FACT THAT THE USE OF AIR TRANSPORTATION WAS IN THIS CASE JUSTIFIED AS AN EMERGENCY. STATED THAT HE WAS IN OKLAHOMA CITY ON AN OFFICIAL INVESTIGATION AND THAT LATE ON THE AFTERNOON OF JULY 14. HE INFORMED THE DIRECTOR THAT ALL OF THE COMMERCIAL AIRPLANES HAD PREVIOUSLY DEPARTED FROM OKLAHOMA CITY AND THE ONLY KNOWN MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION WHICH COULD BE USED WAS THE NIGHT TRAIN.

A-63248, APRIL 17, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 919

TRANSPORTATION CHARGES - CHARTERING OF PRIVATE AIRPLANE - FORCED LANDING WHERE THE SOLE PURPOSE OF A GOVERNMENT OFFICER IN CHARTERING A PRIVATE AIRPLANE WAS TO MEET AN EMERGENCY AND SUCH PURPOSE WAS DEFEATED BY A FORCED LANDING SHORT OF DESTINATION DUE TO THE POOR MECHANICAL CONDITION OF THE PLANE, THE BASIS OF PAYMENT MAY NOT BE THE EMERGENCY CONDITION BUT THE COST OF AIRPLANE TRANSPORTATION NOT TO EXCEED THE COST BY RAIL BETWEEN THE POINTS COVERED BY THE PLANE TRAVEL.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, APRIL 17, 1936:

REVIEW HAS BEEN REQUESTED OF THE ACTION OF THIS OFFICE OF NOVEMBER 9, 1935, IN DISALLOWING CREDIT IN THE ACCOUNTS OF G. F. ALLEN, CHIEF DISBURSING OFFICER, FOR $126.40 OF THE SUM OF $138 PAID TO THE AIRLINES TICKET OFFICE AS TRANSPORTATION FOR A CHARTERED PLANE FROM OKLAHOMA CITY TO SPRINGFIELD, MO. IN SUPPORT OF THE REQUEST FOR REVIEW THERE HAS BEEN FURNISHED A STATEMENT BY THE CHIEF, AUDIT SECTION, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, VERIFIED BY THE GENERAL AGENT, AS FOLLOWS:

THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, BY THE LANGUAGE USED IN THE NOTICE OF EXCEPTION APPARENTLY CONCEDES THE FACT THAT THE USE OF AIR TRANSPORTATION WAS IN THIS CASE JUSTIFIED AS AN EMERGENCY.

MR. HAROLD NATHAN, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, IN DISCUSSING THIS MATTER WITH THIS OFFICE SEVERAL MONTHS AGO, STATED THAT HE WAS IN OKLAHOMA CITY ON AN OFFICIAL INVESTIGATION AND THAT LATE ON THE AFTERNOON OF JULY 14, HE RECEIVED TELEPHONIC INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE DIRECTOR AT WASHINGTON TO PROCEED IMMEDIATELY TO ST. LOUIS, MO., IN CONNECTION WITH AN EMERGENCY INVESTIGATION. HE INFORMED THE DIRECTOR THAT ALL OF THE COMMERCIAL AIRPLANES HAD PREVIOUSLY DEPARTED FROM OKLAHOMA CITY AND THE ONLY KNOWN MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION WHICH COULD BE USED WAS THE NIGHT TRAIN. HE WAS INSTRUCTED BY THE DIRECTOR TO CHARTER A PRIVATELY- OWNED PLANE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROCEEDING TO ST. LOUIS. HE THEN INQUIRED AS TO PERSONALLY-OWNED AIRPLANES WHICH MIGHT BE AVAILABLE, AND WAS FINALLY SUCCESSFUL IN OBTAINING THE PLANE ACTUALLY USED. HE STATES FURTHER THAT THE "CRATE WAS A BUNCH OF JUNK" AND THAT IT MADE TWO UNSUCCESSFUL ATTEMPTS TO TAKE OFF FROM THE GROUND BEFORE ACTUALLY SUCCEEDING. AS STATED BEFORE, THE PLANE MADE A FORCED LANDING AT SPRINGFIELD, AND MR. NATHAN PROCEEDED FROM THAT POINT TO ST. LOUIS BY RAILROAD, WHICH WAS THE ONLY MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION.

THE FACT THAT THE PLANE WHICH WAS CHARTERED DID NOT COMPLETE THE TRIP HAS NO CONNECTION WITH THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN OKLAHOMA CITY AND SPRINGFIELD, MO., BY RAILROAD, INCLUDING PULLMAN. THE CARRIER IN THIS INSTANCE WAS NOT A PARTY TO ANY AGREEMENT WITH THE GOVERNMENT WHEREBY IT WOULD HONOR GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS IN AMOUNTS EQUAL TO RAIL AND PULLMAN AS IS THE CASE OF PRACTICALLY ALL COMMERCIAL AIRLINES.

THE UNDERSTANDING THAT MR. NATHAN HAD WITH THE PILOT OF THE PRIVATELY OWNED PLANE WAS THAT THE TRIP WAS TO COST $235.00. IT IS THE CONTENTION OF THE CARRIER AND THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION THAT THE CARRIER IS ENTITLED TO PORTIONATE AMOUNT OF THAT ORIGINALLY AGREED UPON FOR THAT PORTION OF THE TRANSPORTATION ACTUALLY FURNISHED. THIS OFFICE BELIEVES THAT THE SETTLEMENT ON A QUANTUM MERUIT BASIS IS PROPER.

ACCEPTING AS ESTABLISHED AN EMERGENCY WHICH MIGHT HAVE JUSTIFIED PAYMENT FOR THE EXTRAORDINARY SERVICE FOR WHICH THE AIRPLANE WAS ENGAGED, HAD THE OBJECT FOR WHICH ENGAGED BEEN ACCOMPLISHED, SUCH EMERGENCY NECESSITATED A TRIP BY AIRPLANE BETWEEN OKLAHOMA CITY AND ST. LOUIS, MO., AND THE PLANE WAS CHARTERED FOR THE ENTIRE TRIP. BY REASON OF A FORCED LANDING AT SPRINGFIELD, DUE APPARENTLY TO THE POOR MECHANICAL CONDITION OF THE AIRPLANE, THE OBJECT FOR WHICH CHARTERED WAS NOT ACCOMPLISHED, AND THEREFORE THE AGREEMENT FOR THE CHARTER WAS BREACHED AND PAYMENT COULD ONLY BE MADE UPON A QUANTUM MERUIT BASIS FOR THE SERVICE ACTUALLY RENDERED. THE SOLE PURPOSE IN CHARTERING THE AIRPLANE WAS TO MEET AN EMERGENCY, AND SUCH PURPOSE WAS DEFEATED BY THE BREACH OF THE CARRIER'S AGREEMENT. IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES THE BASIS OF PAYMENT CANNOT BE CONSIDERED THE EMERGENCY CONDITION AND AS IN THE ABSENCE OF AN EMERGENCY THE COST OF AIRPLANE TRANSPORTATION MAY NOT EXCEED THE COST BY RAIL, RAIL FARE BETWEEN OKLAHOMA CITY AND SPRINGFIELD, MO., WAS THE UTMOST FOR WHICH CREDIT COULD BE ALLOWED.