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Responding to FAA investigations

Anyone who works in the aviation industry understands the importance of maintaining compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. The FAA has the power to suspend your certificates and ratings if it finds that you have violated the law. These rules apply to professionals working in the industry, including pilots, aircraft mechanics and airfield operators, as well as anyone who buys, sells or leases an aircraft. Aviation professionals must diligently assess their exposure to investigations alleging:

  • Airspace violations
  • Altitude deviations
  • Lapses in aircraft maintenance
  • Misuse of a certification
  • Inadequate fuel reserves

What comes after an investigation depends upon the specific circumstances of your case. The FAA could follow up with A Notice of Proposed Certificate Action, a Notice of Civil Penalty or even an Emergency Order of Revocation. How you respond to these events will play a crucial role in your future dealings in the industry.

Responding to a letter of investigation

If you have received a letter of investigation (LOI) from the FAA, it is a matter to be taken very seriously. You have 10 days to respond to such a letter and to provide facts and mitigating circumstances that might bear on the situation.

It may be tempting to respond quickly to such a request, especially if you know you are in the right. This can be a mistake, however, as the slightest misstep in your response could cost you dearly in the future. The information you provide will be scrutinized carefully by FAA investigators and can be used against you in potential hearings and legal actions.

You are best served by having a knowledgeable aviation law attorney review the LOI and all communications from the FAA, and then charting the best legal course of action from there.

An ounce of prevention

Due diligence and proactive legal planning can help you avoid problems with the FAA. By having your paperwork, policies and procedures scrutinized by an experienced aviation law attorney, you can identify potential problem spots before they become full-blow liabilities.

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