Certificate Actions

Some practical observations on the Pilots Bill of Rights

You may have read my previous article (online at AviationPros.com) dealing with the Pilots Bill of Rights, which, as we all should know by now, covers all certificated airmen. There seems to be an interesting interaction and commingling of these subjects along with the current controversial IA renewal policy changes by FAA regarding compliance with the “actively engaged” regulatory requirement on March 31 of this year. You will be reading this after the fact but nonetheless you should be aware of the problem that can arise in the future.

Miranda warning?

For example, before you were issued your IA renewal, you will have signed a document titled “Pilots Bill of Rights Written Notification of Investigation” (Reference FAA Notice 8900.195). You no doubt were sent a copy to be submitted with your 8610-1 before March 31st. It is titled “Pilots” simply because it is the language of the statute.

In my previous article I have suggested that this document is tantamount to a “Miranda” warning, that I am confident you all have heard law enforcement people use it when they have an alleged criminal “in custody.” You know: “You have a right to remain silent, anything you say can be taken down and used against you, you have a right to a lawyer, and one will be provided to you, etc.”

You must sign the attachment that acknowledges your receipt of the “Written Notification” and that you received written notification of your rights under the Pilots Bill of Rights. This document is required by the statute and is incorporated into the IA renewal process. You should also note that it is used and must be submitted with all applications for any airmen certificate. In the case of pilots, it is used when applying for a rating of any kind, and it is also required when you apply for your medical certificate as well.

The FAA is required to include the form as a result of the Bill of Rights statute being implemented. It is required to tell you clearly that any information you submit to the FAA (the 8610-1 for your IA renewal or the 8500-10 medical certificate for pilots among others) will be investigated. They are telling you they are going to investigate your qualifications to perform the function that you are applying for. You are issued your certificate if the so-called investigation shows you are qualified and physically able to safely perform the duties associated with your application.

The reason for this document, among others, is to deny you the use of an ignorance defense and of course to tell you that they are going to investigate you and that anything you say in your application can be used against you. This seems clear to most without this form, but it is designed to prevent defense of a technical nature to any certificate action by the FAA that has to do with any sanctions against your certificate. Keep in mind also that criminal charges (18 USC 1001) can be brought as well as civil certificate actions, as was recently seen in the case of a falsified medical certificate in the case of a pilot. (FAA vs. Stanmore Cooper). (SCUS).

This is really nothing new. All of us in the certificate defense business make it clear to clients that anything they say or write to the FAA can and will be used against them in any action, civil or criminal. This has always been the rule. However, many certificate holders are not aware of this. They still think that FAA will be the same caring and concerned group we were familiar with some years back.

Actively engaged

FAA Policy Statement: It is problematic to list every situation that could be considered actively engaged and that approach may (inadvertently) exclude situations where an ASI would determine, meets the regulatory requirements.”

Furthermore, as indicated in FAA policy statement in the Federal Register, “FAA values the substantive nature of experience rather than a strict quantity formula …”

What this means is quite clear, the intent is to include as many people as possible who have something to contribute to aviation safety.

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