Are You Prudent?
By Joe Hertzler
Let's take a close look at the process the FAA follows when taking enforcement action against a certificate holder. The investigative process, referred to as the FAA enforcement program, is detailed in FAA Order 2150.3A.
FAA enforcement program
When an FAA inspector is performing surveillance on an assigned certificate holder(s), part of their job is to identify regulatory violations and take enforcement action against those in violation. A certificate holder is any FAA certificated airman or agency (i.e., pilots, mechanics, repair stations, and air carriers).
Once the FAA Safety Inspector believes that a violation has occurred, the process goes something like this:
- An EIR (Enforcement Investigation Report) file is opened and given a unique number that will identify the package/violation throughout the process.
- A "Letter of Investigation" (LOI) is written and sent via certified mail to the certificate holder to make him/her aware that the FAA believes a violation has occurred. The letter is a pre-written "canned" letter that must contain certain elements. One is a request for the certificate holder to respond to the allegations. (It's important to note that any response becomes a permanent part of the investigation package. What they don't tell you is "Anything you say can and will be used against you.")
- The investigation is then completed and the evidence compiled.
- The investigating inspector makes a determination as to the "enforcement action" that should be taken based upon the findings, your response, and the guidelines of Order 2150.3A.
- The inspector will then submit the package to FAA regional council (FAA attorney) with a recommendation for action to be taken.
- Enforcement action is taken against the certificate holder. The regional council sends the certificate holder what is called "Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty," or "Notice of Proposed Certificate Action."
- The certificate holder must then choose from several options of how to respond.