If you are under investigation by the FAA or otherwise involved in an FAA enforcement action, you may be wondering: “what is a FAA Notice of Proposed Certificate Action?” Quite simply, the FAA Notice of Proposed Certificate Action is the document which could ultimately become the complaint in an action to either suspend or revoke your airman certificate. To better understand the FAA Notice of Proposed Certificate Action, you must look at the enforcement process as a whole.
When an airman or operator within the National Airspace System violates a Federal Aviation Regulation and the FAA finds out about it, the FAA will begin an investigation into the incident. Typically, to initiate an investigation, a FAA inspector from the nearest FSDO will send the airman or operator what is known as a Letter of Investigation. The Letter of Investigation is discussed in greater length in other blogs. However, the Letter of Investigation is typically a document which tells the airman or operator that there was an incident on a certain date and that the FAA has initiated an investigation into that incident. Typically, the Letter of Investigation will invite the airman or operator to provide a statement, which will go into the EIR or investigative dossier. Generally, whether an airman or operator should respond to a Letter of Investigation is determined on a case-by-case basis; however, what with the FAA’s new Compliance Philosophy, it may be in your best interest to talk with the FAA about the incident. Whether or not you respond to a Letter of Investigation is something you should discuss with your aviation attorney.
The FAA Notice of Proposed Certificate Action is the next “important” document which you will receive after the Letter of Investigation.
Unless there is an emergency, the investigative process can last for several months. During this time, the FAA inspector is usually gathering documents, recording witness statements, and otherwise collecting evidence for a potential prosecution against your airman certificate. Once the FAA inspector turns all this evidence over to the FAA attorney with his or her opinion on the case, the FAA attorney will issue what is known as the FAA Notice of Proposed Certificate Action. Essentially, this document will summarize the information collected by the FAA inspector and included in the EIR or investigative dossier. As such, the document will detail the facts of the incident in question in a numerical fashion and then ultimately state what Federal Aviation Regulations the FAA believes the airman or operator has allegedly violated.
Upon receiving this document, it is imperative that you take action. If you have not retained an aviation attorney at this point or at least had a consultation with an aviation attorney, now is the time to do so. In that, the FAA Notice of Proposed Certificate Action is a time sensitive document. The FAA typically gives airmen 15 days to respond to a Notice of Proposed Certificate Action from the date of receipt– if no response is received within the 15 days, the airman will acquiesce to the FAA’s proposal of either certificate suspension or revocation. So, it is important that you respond to this Notice in a timely manner.
The Notice of Proposed Certificate Action begins the appeal process. In that, an airman has 4 options for response to the Notice. The airman can surrender his or her certificate (almost never a good idea); the airman can submit evidence which will show that the violation did not occur (again, almost never a good idea); the airman can request an informal conference with the FAA attorney (almost always a good idea) (discussed in greater detail in another blog); the airman can request that the proposed action be issued so that the airman can appeal to the NTSB full board (almost never a good idea). When giving your response to the Notice, it is typically good practice to request a copy of the EIR or investigative dossier.
If you have received a Notice of Proposed Certificate Action from the FAA, it is not too late to call an aviation attorney at The Ison Law Firm. This document is time sensitive and how you respond could potentially determine the fate of your airman certificate. Your FAA Enforcement Attorney at The Ison Law Firm is standing by to vector you through legal turbulence…855-FAA-1215!