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05

Oct,2015

PRIA: FAA Enforcement Actions And Your Aviation Career

Did you ever fall off your bike as a child and scrape your knee? If so, what did your mom do when she saw your “boo boo?” Did she pull out the Morton salt and pour it on the raw flesh? If she did, we’re sorry to hear that…but, if your mom is anything like ours, she probably just put a Band-Aid on it and sent you on your way. As an aviator, you might know by now that the FAA can sometimes be the mom that pours salt on that fresh, flesh wound. In that, when it comes to the Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) the FAA is pouring salt in our wounds all the time. The following will walk you through how PRIA works and make some suggestions as to how to avoid the FAA’s wrath.

 

PRIA requires that all air carriers operating under 14 CFR parts 121, 125, and 135, request, receive, and evaluate certain information concerning a pilot/applicant’s training, experience, qualification, and safety background, before allowing that individual to begin service as a pilot with their company. Of course, this is a good idea…we don’t need Bozo the Clown being hired to fly a 737 for Southwest just because his resume says he has 20,000 hours. Essentially, PRIA provides potential employers with confirmation from the FAA and one’s previous employers that an applicant’s qualifications are credible and accurate.

 

An airmen’s PRIA records will include files from the FAA, previous employers, and the National Driving Registry. The FAA’s file will include records containing information on your airmen certificates, current medical certificates, and type ratings. However, the frustrating part about PRIA is that the FAA’s file on you can contain career-crushing data. In that, the FAA records required to be reviewed by the hiring airline include your Enforcement Information Subsystem (EIS):

Enforcement Information Subsystem (EIS)

  • Computerized database of enforcement actions
  • Information may be accessed without pilot’s permission
  • Maintained by Flight Standards’ Information Management Section (AFS-624) in Oklahoma City

So, what’s the big deal? Well, everything is hunky-dory until the FAA decides to bring an enforcement action against you or you have an accident. Prior to 2010, records of action brought against your certificate would be expunged after 5 years. However, The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010, signed August 1, 2010, changes how PRIA works. Now, the new law requires the FAA to retain certain legal enforcement records until the agency is notified that a pilot has died. The FAA won’t be happy until we are all dead. As a result, if you are hit with a certificate suspension, your potential employers will know about it…which probably won’t make your application go straight to the top.

 

So what can you do in an effort to keep your PRIA record looking pristine? The obvious first step is to avoid doing anything that would warrant the FAA bringing an enforcement action against your certificate. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. The FAA can essentially investigate whatever they feel like investigating. Luckily, the FAA will still expunge letters warning notices and letters of correction after 2 years. Furthermore, open cases are not reported by PRIA. Once fully adjudicated and closed, both suspensions, other formal enforcement events, and revocations will become permanent entries on an airman’s EIS record, and are required to be reported by PRIA. These EIS records will remain on the PRIA report, even in cases where the airman has re-qualified, and has been issued another current and valid airman certificate.

 

Beyond that, PRIA will retain records of civil penalties. A civil penalty is basically a monetary fine issued either to an individual airman or to an air carrier. When it comes to civil penalties, air carriers are held to a higher standard. An air carrier can be subject to a penalty of up to $11,000 for a single violation. Other certificate holders such as repair stations, pilots or mechanics, can receive a penalty of up to $1,100 for each violation. Civil penalties have also become a permanent entry on an airman’s EIS record and subsequently on their PRIA report.

 

Should the FAA bring legal action against you (either in the form of a certificate action or civil penalty), the ideal modus operandi would be to adjudicate the action to its fullest. This way you can attempt to have your name cleared and your PRIA record remaining faultless. In the event of winning your enforcement action case, the “legal action” notice on your PRIA record will be expunged between 30 and 90 days. The relationship between of PRIA and enforcement actions is frustrating for airmen…such that it feels like the FAA is continuously pouring salt in the proverbial “wound.”

 

If you are the subject of an enforcement action and want to speak with an aviation attorney, call your friends at The Ison Law Group. Let us vector you through your legal turbulence… call us today with your questions at 1-855-LAW-1215.

08

Apr,2015

FAA Letter of Investigation …The FAA’s Secret Weapon

Nothing can ruin your day quite like receiving a dreaded FAA letter of investigation in the mail. If handled improperly, the FAA letter of investigation could lead to an enforcement action and possibly threaten your livelihood or FAA certificated privileges. Understanding why you received your letter of investigation and what you should do in response is critical to thwarting a possible enforcement action.
 
If the FAA has reason to believe that you (as a certificated pilot, air carrier, mechanic, repair station, etc) violated a Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR), you will likely receive a letter of investigation from a local FAA aviation safety inspector. The FAA letter of investigation can relate to the approval, denial, suspension, modification, or revocation of your certificate. The overall purpose of this letter is to give you access to information as required by the Pilot’s Bill of Rights. A letter of investigation will give you information on the nature of the investigation and that you are entitled to applicable air traffic data.
 
The two most important things to remember about your letter of investigation are that: 1) you are not required to respond to your letter of your investigation and 2) any response you submit to your letter of investigation may be used against you in an FAA enforcement action.
 
The wording of a letter of investigation tends to make you believe that you must respond within 10 days of receiving the letter. This is not true; no response is required. It is easy to want to respond to a letter of investigation, especially if you feel you’ve done nothing wrong. This is a temptation you must try and avoid. Information you give to the FAA inspector could incriminate you in a possible FAA enforcement action. Sometimes assertions made by the FAA are completely incorrect and a properly worded response can assist in making allegations disappear.
 
The best thing to do if you receive an FAA letter of investigation is to call your aviation attorneys at the Ison Law Group right away. If a response is deemed appropriate, we can help you address and explain any allegations brought against you. Your team at the Ison Law Group can help mitigate damage, minimize investigation, and help you avoid providing admissions or other evidence that could later be used against you. Let us vector your through your legal turbulence. Call us today, toll-free at 1-855-LAW-1215.

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