The FAA and intentional falsification

How to lose everything you have worked for

It may be tempting to embellish logbook entries, adding a bit of time here or there or a practice approach for IFR currency that wasn’t in simulated or actual IMC, or logging a flight on a different day than when it actually occurred. Beware: This is extraordinarily dangerous territory, one where you can lose what you have worked hard to earn—your certificates and ratings.

The FAA takes intentional falsification very seriously because it demonstrates a lack of care, judgment, and responsibility as well as a disregard for compliance. Intentional falsification means (1) making a false representation, (2) in reference to a material fact, and (3) with knowledge of the falsity of the fact. It does not matter to the FAA whether you have a “good excuse” for doing so, or whether it was one isolated instance. Knowingly falsifying a material fact is a black and white issue from the FAA’s perspective.

Airmen who are found to have intentionally falsified records face revocation of all of their certificates and ratings. If losing all of your certificates and ratings isn’t enough, you can also face criminal prosecution with fines and imprisonment of up to five years for falsifying or concealing a material fact from the federal government!

FAA enforcement cases are filled with examples of airmen losing it all—private single-engine through ATP certificates and aircraft type ratings. If this happens to you, if you want to fly again you will have to retest to earn your certificates and ratings again, retaking your written.

Justine Harrison 

Justine A. Harrison

  • Panel attorney for AOPA's Pilot Protection Services- Legal Services Plan
  • Private pilot with instrument and multiengine ratings

Justine A. Harrison

Justine A. Harrison joined AOPA in 2019 and serves as AOPA’s general counsel and corporate secretary, leading the Legal Department and overseeing AOPA’s Legal Services Plan. She has a commercial pilot certificate and flies aircraft ranging from an AirCam experimental she co-built to a Learjet 75.

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