PRIA Guidance for Part 135 Operators

  • ON Mar 06, 2018
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  • BY Anthony Ison
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  • IN Pilot Law

PRIA guidance for Part 135 operators can be difficult to come by. While the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) provides official PRIA guidance to Part 135 carriers in their PRIA advisory circular (AC-120-68), that “guidance” oftentimes requires an understanding of other regulatory cannons, industry practice, and the FAA’s legal interpretation of PRIA. So, while the advisory circular does provide some PRIA guidance for Part 135 operators, it doesn’t necessarily put all the pieces of the puzzle together for the Part 135 start-up company (or existing Part 135 company that is auditing their PRIA processes). Don’t be mistaken, the FAA’s advisory circular is the foundational PRIA guidance for Part 135 operators – it just doesn’t provide a practical system for PRIA processes for Part 135 operators.

What are some important considerations for Part 135 operators that are either creating or recreating their PRIA processing system? First, Part 135 operators should keep in mind that they should always have a rigid “system” in place for responding to PRIA requests from outside air carriers and for requesting PRIA documents from outside air carriers. This means that every request should have the same process – from start to finish. For example, a startup Part 135 carrier can’t afford to miss the 30-day response period for providing records to an outside carrier and ultimately get hit with a civil penalty from the FAA. Having an individual or department that is consistent in its PRIA process can help alleviate oversight and potentially those civil penalties. Second, Part 135 operators should develop a “review” element to their PRIA processing in order to prevent “personnel records” from carelessly floating into an airman’s PRIA records. Including personnel records in an airman’s PRIA records and worse yet, sending personnel records to an outside carrier, can potentially produce scorn/liability from both the airman and the FAA. A definitive process, developed by a clear understanding of PRIA and industry practice can help prevent these types of errors.

All Part 135 carriers should make an attempt to streamline their PRIA response and request processes to ensure accuracy and regularity. In doing so, the Part 135 carrier will make great strides in preventing liability. If you are a Part 135 company and require assistance with developing a PRIA process, call The Pilot Lawyer at The Ison Law Firm; your PRIA attorney is standing by to vector you through legal turbulence.

PRIA: FAA Enforcement Actions And Your Aviation Career

  • ON Oct 05, 2015
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  • BY Christopher Ison
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  • IN Pilot Law

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.