FAA Enforcement Refresher

FAA Enforcement Refresher Sometimes, it’s complicated By Stephen P. Prentice March 2001 Recently, I ran into some new technicians who were not up to speed on the subject of FAA enforcement actions and what can happen when they get...


Request for trial (called appeal)
The word appeal can be somewhat confusing to people. What you are really doing is asking the Board for a hearing (trial) on your case where you can present a defense. So, the word appeal at this point simply is a request for a trial hearing before an Administrative law judge. Certificate actions are thus appealed to the NTSB (Complaint is Answered). Remember, in both certificate and civil penalty cases, you are appealing the FAA’s attempt to impose a suspension, revocation, or a fine on you.

Real first appeal
If the decision of the Administrative law judge is against you, the appeal from this "trial" is to the full Board or the FAA Administrator. Again, this happens after your "trial." As in the filing requirements for your answer to the Complaint, you must pay particular attention to the requirements for the Notice of Appeal and more importantly, get your appeal brief on file. The Board is very strict on these requirements and being one day late on the Notice of Appeal or the filing of your brief will blow you out.

Real second appeal
An appeal by the FAA or the petitioner (You), can be made to one of two US Court of Appeals — The District of Columbia Court of Appeals or the district court wherever you live. This process is usually beyond the means of the average airman and is mostly unsuccessful.

End of the line
Well, by this time, you will have expended most of your cash on legal fees and costs (absent some sort of insurance protection) and you may not have certificates or cash to even pay any fines. So much for our legal system. Furthermore, you have to know that suspension and civil penalty records at the FAA are kept on file for five years. Your revocation record, if any, is kept on file forever! If your certificates have been revoked, you can start all over after one year and work on earning all of your certificates again. Many have done so — others don’t bother.
The thing to remember is this: During the time your case is processed, you continue to exercise the privileges of your certificate. Only in emergency cases are you put out of business instantly. The usual enforcement case may drag on for several years while the process goes on. The case may also be settled at any time during the proceedings.
This is obviously a short and condensed treatment of what can be a complex subject. If you have any specific questions consult with your counselor or forward them by email and we’ll look into providing you an answer. The best approach of course, is to be careful and avoid any run in with the Feds.

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