(a) Purpose and scope of conference. At the discretion of the administrative law judge, a prehearing conference may be called prior to any hearing. Written notice of the prehearing conference shall be sent by the administrative law judge to all parties to a proceeding and to other persons who appear to have an interest in such proceeding. The purpose of such a conference is to define the issues and the scope of the proceeding, to secure statements of the positions of the parties and amendments to the pleadings, to schedule the exchange of exhibits before the date set for hearing, and to arrive at such agreements as will aid in the conduct and disposition of the proceeding. For example, consideration will be given to:
(1) Matters that the DOT decisionmaker can consider without the necessity of proof;
(2) Admissions of fact and of the genuineness of documents;
(3) Requests for documents;
(4) Admissibility of evidence;
(5) Limitation of the number of witnesses;
(6) Reducing of oral testimony to exhibit form;
(7) Procedure at the hearing; and
(8) Use of electronic media as a basis for exchange of briefs, hearing transcripts and exhibits, etc., in addition to the official record copy.
(b) Actions during prehearing conference. The administrative law judge may require a further conference, or responsive pleadings, or both. If a party refuses to produce documents requested by another party at the conference, the administrative law judge may compel the production of such documents prior to a hearing by subpoena issued in accordance with the provisions of § 302.25 as though at a hearing. Applications for the production prior to hearing of documents in the Department's possession shall be addressed to the administrative law judge, in accordance with the provisions of § 302.25(g), in the same manner as provided therein for production of documents at a hearing. The administrative law judge may also, on his or her own initiative or on motion of any party, direct any party to the proceeding (air carrier or non-air carrier) to prepare and submit exhibits setting forth studies, forecasts, or estimates on matters relevant to the issues in the proceeding.
(c) Report of prehearing conference. The administrative law judge shall issue a report of prehearing conference, defining the issues, giving an account of the results of the conference, specifying a schedule for the exchange of exhibits and rebuttal exhibits, the date of hearing, and specifying a time for the filing of objections to such report. The report shall be served upon all parties to the proceeding and any person who appeared at the conference. Objections to the report may be filed by any interested person within the time specified therein. The administrative law judge may revise his or her report in the light of the objections presented. The revised report, if any, shall be served upon the same persons as was the original report. Exceptions may be taken on the basis of any timely written objection that has not been met by a revision of the report if the exceptions are filed within the time specified in the revised report. Such report shall constitute the official account of the conference and shall control the subsequent course of the proceeding, but it may be reconsidered and modified at any time to protect the public interest or to prevent injustice.