The FAA Is Revoking My License

Have you recently said those words: “the FAA is revoking my license?” Unfortunately, what with the FAA’s new “compliance philosophy,” the majority of the enforcement actions coming from the FAA are emergency revocations…which means that instead of giving you an opportunity to respond to the allegations prior to issuing a revocation order, the FAA is immediately revoking your pilot license. Make no mistake, however, when the FAA revokes your certificate immediately (or pursuant to an “emergency,”) you still have an opportunity to appeal such an order to the National Transportation Safety Board.


Currently, there seems to be an influx of such “emergency” orders – a lot of people are saying “the FAA is revoking my license.” The reason for that is likely that the FAA’s “compliance philosophy” seemingly thwarts enforcement actions where there are actions or behavior that is for the most part not intentional or reckless. As such, when an airman violates the FARs intentionally (although perhaps unknowingly in some cases) or recklessly, the FAA does not have to comply with their new “kinder, gentler” policies. For example, when an airman fails to report a DUI conviction or administrative action to the FAA via 14 C.F.R. §61.15 or DUI conviction, DUI arrest, or administrative action via the FAA medical application, the FAA deems those actions “intentional” and outside the scope of the “compliance philosophy.” So, if your question is “why is the FAA revoking my license,” the answer is that likely you’ve taken an action which is intentional or reckless and is otherwise in violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations.


If you are saying “the FAA is revoking my license,” it is time to immediately call a FAA defense attorney at The Ison Law Firm. It’s possible that your right to an appeal will exhaust if you do not act quickly. Your aviation attorney at The Ison Law Firm can competently and efficiently address your defense and assist you in the appeal process going forward. Call your FAA attorney at The Ison Law Firm today!

FAA Hotline Complaints

Did you know that the FAA via FAA hotline complaints allows anyone to file a complaint with the FAA if he or she thinks that you (a certificated airman, air carrier, or otherwise) has violated a Federal Aviation Regulation or have otherwise jeopardized the safety of the National Airspace System? The problem with the FAA hotline complaint system is two-fold: anyone can file a complaint against a certificate holder and the reporter can remain anonymous. As you’ve probably already figured out (or have experienced in practice), the system opens the door to allowing everybody and their mother air their dirty laundry vis-à-vis FAA inquiries or investigations. While allowing concerned citizens to report legitimate safety concerns to the FAA is an important function within this safety-sensitive industry, it’s interesting to note that an inordinate amount of “false” reports are funneled through this process on a regular basis.


Typically, false FAA hotline complaints come from a person on the same airfield as the airman at issue, who has otherwise gotten their “nose out of joint” and is going to “make the other airman pay.” In other words, there are people out there that will file a report with the FAA because they know it could potentially spell trouble for an airman’s career and/or the airman’s ability to fly. What seems to be the most common form of complaint regards an airman’s qualification to hold an airman medical certificate with the FAA. For instance, one of the most egregious situations is where someone falsely claims to the FAA that an airman has a condition which would be medically disqualifying under the Federal Aviation Regulations (the airman is bi-polar; the airman has substance abuse problems, etc.). The problem with this scenario is that if the airman does not really have a disqualifying condition, it may end up being the airman’s responsibility (and financial burden) to prove otherwise. On the other hand, if the airman does have a condition which has been unreported to the FAA, such a hotline complaint can create a legitimate issue for an airman’s medical or airman certificate.


Have you received a FAA hotline complaint? If so, it is important that you represent your interests from a “damage control” perspective. In that, the FAA has both the authority and the liability to follow up on any complaints (false or not) and how you respond could possibly affect your certificate. So, if you fail to respond or otherwise provide a response which could implied guilt or lack of qualification, the FAA could use those statements or lack thereof in an action against your certificate. Your response must aim to avoid and at all costs “shut-down” an FAA inquiry.


If you’ve received a FAA hotline complaint, make sure you call on a qualified aviation attorney to guide you through the investigative process. At The Ison Law Firm, there is a FAA enforcement attorney with experience handling FAA hotline complaints, waiting to vector you through legal turbulence.

Responding to a FAA Letter of Investigation

If you’re under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), you may have questions about responding to a FAA Letter of Investigation (“LOI”). First, what is a FAA Letter of Investigation? The FAA sends a Letter of Investigation to a certificated airman/entity (pilot, A&P mechanic, IA air carrier, repair station, etc.) when there is evidence that the airman or entity allegedly engaged in activity which may have been in violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations (“FARs”). The purpose of the LOI is two-fold, in that it puts the certificate holder on notice that an investigation has been initiated and furthermore allows the certificate holder an opportunity to provide a verbal or written statement in response to the allegation(s) brought against him or her. When a certificate holder receives a LOI, natural instinct is to send an immediate response to the FAA inspector, detailing why the allegations are false or otherwise unworthy of investigation; however, providing such a response may not be the best move to make as a certificate holder. What should your response be to a FAA LOI?


The answer to the question posed above is somewhat complex. It is important to remember, however, that a response to the FAA’s Letter of Investigation is not required. In that, failing to respond to a FAA LOI does not create a presumption of “guilt.” In the alternative, anything you do say or do in response to the Letter of Investigation can be used against you. This means that if you provide a response to the FAA which ultimately admits to some level of “guilt,” the FAA could present that as evidence in a hearing before the NTSB to show admission of “guilt.” Most importantly, however, is that your statement in response to a LOI can later be used as impeachment evidence, whereas the FAA attorney could introduce your LOI response at the NTSB hearing if that statement is contrary to a statement made later during the course of litigation. For example, in response to a FAA Letter of Investigation sent to an A&P mechanic, the mechanic hypothetically responds to the inspector with a written statement which reads: “I did not perform maintenance on the aircraft that morning, as I was late for work.” However, later on in the course of litigation, the mechanic testifies that he actually arrived at work ten minutes late or maybe evidence is produced which shows the mechanic actually did do some work on the aircraft that day. Overall, no matter what the mechanic’s intentions were in providing his response to the LOI, having a statement which is contrary to the evidence will allow the FAA to impeach the mechanic’s testimony and will ultimately speak to the mechanic’s credibility before the NTSB law judge.


As such, it is always recommended that you speak with an aviation attorney prior to responding to a FAA Letter of Investigation from the FAA. In some cases, it may be best to provide the FAA with a courtesy response, simply acknowledging receipt of the Letter. It may be determined, however, in consult with your FAA defense attorney, that a more detailed response is necessary. If you have questions about responding to a FAA Letter of Investigation, call your aviation attorney at The Ison Law Firm. The Ison Law Firm is standing by to vector you through legal turbulence.

*This article is not legal advice and should not be construed as such. If you have a legal problem, please contact a licensed attorney.

FAA Emergency Revocation for Refusal of a DOT Drug Test

If you are a person who performs flight crewmember duties under part 121, did you know that you could potentially receive a FAA emergency revocation for refusal of a DOT drug test? In that, employees who perform safety-sensitive functions for airlines and other companies certificated under part 121 are required to submit to random drug testing pursuant to their company’s anti-drug program. Most employees have completed these types of drug tests numerous times, whether it was for pre-employment screening or as a part of an airline’s random drug testing program, to the point where drug tests have become familiar process for employment with an airline. Did you know, however, that if you refuse a DOT drug test, the FAA could potentially issue an Emergency Order of Revocation and revoke not only your FAA airman medical certificate, but also your FAA airman certificates (including type ratings and add-ons)?


It is important, especially for airline pilots and those pilots employed by a part 121 company, to understand what the FAA considers a refusal to a drug test. Specifically, 49 C.F.R. 40.191 speaks to drug test refusal and states that an employee will have refused a drug test if (to name a few): 1) failure to appear for a test within a reasonable period of time; 2) failure to remain at the testing sight until the testing process is completed; 3) failure to provide a urine sample; 4) failure to allow observation of collection, in the event observation is required; 5) failure to provide a sufficient amount of specimen without a subsequent, adequate medical explanation for failure; and 6) outright failure or declining to take a required drug test. If you are subject to DOT drug tests, make sure you review the entire list of refusals under 49 C.F.R. 40.191.


It is important to note that simple things such as leaving the testing site or otherwise failing to go provide a specimen within a reasonable period of time can be deemed by the FAA and your company as a refusal. So what? You can just take the test again, right? Well, the answer to that question is likely, “no.” Under 14 C.F.R. §67.107(b)(2) and the corresponding regulations to second and third class medicals state that “a refusal by the holder of a certificate issued under 14 C.F.R. part 67 to submit to a drug or alcohol test required under 14 C.F.R. part 120 is a specifically disqualifying medical condition under the medical standards in 14 C.F.R. part 67.” Beyond that, under 14 C.F.R. §120.11, a refusal by the holder of a certificate issued under 14 C.F.R. part 61 to submit to a drug or alcohol test required under 14 C.F.R. part 120 is grounds for revocation of any certificate or rating issued under 14 C.F.R. part 61. As such, the regulatory scheme does not allow for “second chances.” If you refuse, then you have refused.


Nevertheless, it is important to remember that if you find yourself in a situation whereas the FAA is revoking your airman and medical certificates as a result of your employer or collecting agent deeming your sample a refusal, that you may very well have a good defense. National Transportation Safety Board case law has determined that emergency revocation orders based on drug test refusals are heavily dependent on the facts in each given case. That means you shouldn’t lie down and allow the FAA to revoke your certificates (and ultimately career) just because your test has been deemed a “refusal” – fight it with an appeal to the NTSB, as the facts in your case may surmount to a plausible and successful defense.


If you are facing an emergency order of revocation for refusal of a DOT drug test, call an aviation attorney at The Ison Law Firm to discuss your defense. Whether you are an A&P mechanic, IA mechanic, ATP or commercial rated pilot, or otherwise, you could have a great defense at hearing before the NTSB. Your FAA enforcement attorney at The Ison Law Firm is standing by to vector your through legal turbulence.

*This blog article is not legal advice, but rather observations and personal opinions; if you feel you have a legal problem, please contact a licensed attorney.

FAA Emergency Order of Revocation – Notice of Appeal

It is critical to remember that every second counts when you receive a FAA Emergency Order of Revocation. In that, if you receive a FAA Emergency Order of Revocation, you have 10 days from the date of the Order’s service to file a Notice of Appeal with the Office of Administrative Law Judges at the National Transportation Safety Board. But what is a Notice of Appeal? Essentially, a Notice of Appeal is like your way of putting your hand between two elevator doors that are closing – by putting your hand between the doors, you keep the doors from closing. Like elevator doors, the Notice of Appeal puts the FAA and NTSB on notice that you plan to put forward a defense and fight the FAA Emergency Order of Revocation.


Likely the most critical thing in filing your appeal is calculating your filing deadline correctly. Most airmen mistakenly think that they have 10 days from the date they receive their FAA Emergency Order of Revocation to file the Notice of Appeal with the NTSB – WRONG! Instead, you have 10 dates from the date listed at the top of the Order. So, if you receive a FAA Emergency Order on January 1, but the Order is dated December 31, make sure you calculate 10 days from December 31, not January 1. There are some exceptions as to when a Notice of Appeal is due, for instance if the deadline falls on a weekend or Federal holiday.


Another tip is to file your Notice of Appeal via a method which offers confirmation of delivery. In other words, make sure that if you fax your Notice of Appeal to the NTSB and FAA attorney, that you receive a confirmation fax confirming delivery of the Notice. Likewise if you send the Notice of Appeal via mail or e-mail – make sure you have some way of backing up the fact that you filed your Notice in a timely fashion.


If you have received a FAA Emergency Order of Revocation, time is of the essence. Make sure that if you have received an Emergency Order of Revocation from the FAA that you consult with an aviation attorney. Your FAA enforcement attorney at The Ison Law Firm is standing by to vector you through legal turbulence. Call for a consultation today, toll free at 855-FAA-1215.

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