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Aviation Law Process

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Aviation Law Process

Outline a brief but complete description of each step in the prosecution and appeal of an FAA certificate action, including FAA procedural steps from Notice to the highest Federal Court; set forth defense alternatives or options and the specific time frames required of both the FAA and the certificate holder defendant during the course of the procedure.

I. FAA ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS – Certificate Actions

A. Notice of proposed certificate action

- Written notice listing alleged FAR violations and proposed action

- Pilot should file NASA report and contact defense attorney

- Pilot should respond in writing to FAA

B. Informal Conference

- Opportunity to meet with FAA attorney to discuss charges

- Charges may be dropped if pilot can prove innocence

- Suspension may be reduced to fine or remedial training

C. Order of Suspension or Revocation

- Sent by FAA via certified mail

- Pilot must file appeal with NTSB within 20 days that

letter is signed for.

- After 20 days, the order becomes final and right to appeal is lost

D. Discovery

- Provided by FAA upon request from defense

- List of witnesses and any other evidence the FAA intends to use in prosecution.

E. Hearing

- Presided over by Administrative Law Judge in or near place of violation

- This is the ONLY opportunity for defense to be heard by a judge

- Burden of proof rests on FAA, but only needs to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence.

- No jury.

- ALJ will issue a verbal decision at the end of hearing.

- ALJ may reduce severity of penalty requested by FAA, but may not increase penalty.

F. Appeal to Full Board

- Pilot certificate remains in effect throughout appeal process

- Appeal is paper appeal only, issued by both sides arguing their positions

- Appeal Judge only considers two points

1. Did the ALJ afford both sides a fair hearing?

2. Did the ALJ correctly apply the law and applicable FARs to the proven facts?

- Decision arrives in mail unannounced about 1 year later.

G. Appeal to US Court of Appeals

- Another paper appeal written by both attorneys

- Attorneys are sometimes allowed to argue before a 3 judge panel

- No new evidence is allowed in any appeal

- Decsion arrives in mail after about 2 years.

- If decision is in favor of FAA, it arrives as an order to surrender certificate.

F. Appeal to US Supreme Court

- Supreme Court has rarely heard an aviation related case

- End of Appeal Process.

II. THE NASA REPORT – Immunity from Sanctions

A. What is the purpose of the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting Program

- The purpose of the NASA report is to identify problems in the national air transportation system and to provide a sound basis for improving the system.

B. List 3 reasons for filing an ASRP Report with NASA.

- 1) You may make an important personal contribution to improving aviation safety.

- 2) You may receive immunity from sanction for an FAR violation.

- 3) You have nothing to lose by filing the report.

C. What is the time frame for filing the report?

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