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Check Your Sources

When responding to inquiries to AOPA’s Legal Services Plan or writing legal articles, AOPA’s attorneys (myself included) often reference FAA guidance documents, statutes, regulations, and caselaw. If you have ever wondered how AOPA’s attorneys find this information or would like to conduct your own research, you may be interested to know that there is no secret vault of information requiring a bar-card (i.e., license to practice law) to access. Rather, a large majority of these resources are publicly available. Below are some of commonly accessed and publicly available resources to which we often refer (in no particular order):

  • Title 49 of the United States Code – the laws pertaining to air commerce and safety, and airport development and noise
  • Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations – often referred to as the Federal Aviation Regulations or FARs
  • 49 C.F.R. Part 830 – the NTSB regulations pertaining to the reporting of aircraft accidents and certain serious incidents
  • FAA Legal Interpretation & Chief Counsel Opinions – opinions and legal interpretations concerning FAR applicability straight from the FAA Office of the Chief Counsel
  • FAA Advisory Circulars – FAA guidance to the aviation community which often includes methods, procedures, and practices acceptable to the FAA for complying with regulations and other requirements
  • FAA Orders & Notices – FAA Orders include guidance for FAA employees and contractors, federally obligated airports, and certificate holders, while FAA Notices advise the aviation community of changes to FAA guidance and policy
  • FAA Order 8900.1 – the Aviation Safety Inspector (ASI) handbook which provides guidance for how ASIs do their jobs—also known as the ASI “bible”
  • FAA Dynamic Regulatory System (DRS) – a “new and improved” conglomeration of regulatory guidance material from the FAA Office of Aviation Safety
  • NTSB Opinions and Orders – administrative caselaw from the NTSB concerning air safety proceedings, including actions to amend, modify, suspend, or revoke a certificate and review of certificate denials
  • FAA Civil Penalty Appeals – administrative caselaw from the FAA concerning civil penalties against persons other than pilots, flight engineers, mechanics, or repairmen
photos of AOPA employee Ian Arendt

Ian Arendt

Ian Arendt is an in-house attorney with AOPA’s Legal Services Plan. He provides initial consultations to aircraft owners and pilots facing aviation related legal issues through the LSP. Ian is a private pilot and aircraft owner. The AOPA Legal Services plan is offered as part of AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services.

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