What Are Your Rights?

Public Law 112-153, better known as the Pilot’s Bill of Rights (“PBR”), was signed into law on August 3, 2012, over nine years ago. Among other things, the PBR provides airmen with certain rights and access to information when subject to an investigation by the FAA.

Unfortunately, many airmen (and even some FAA Aviation Safety Inspectors) are still unfamiliar with this groundbreaking legislation, leading them to sacrifice their rights without knowing they are available.

Specifically, the PBR grants an airman subject to an investigation relating to the approval, denial, suspension, modification, or revocation of an airman certificate with the right to receive timely, written notification of such an investigation. This notification must also inform the airman of the rights granted to him or her under the PBR. So, what are your rights if investigated by the FAA?

  1. You have the right to be informed of the nature of the FAA’s investigation against you.
  2. You cannot be required to provide an oral or written response to the FAA concerning an investigation.
  3. The FAA cannot take any action or draw an adverse inference against you for declining to respond to an investigation.
  4. If you choose to provide a response, any information provided to the FAA may be used against you.
  5. When an investigation concludes, the releasable portions of the FAA’s investigative report must be made available to you.
  6. You are entitled to timely access to air traffic data in the possession of the FAA which would facilitate your ability to productively participate in a proceeding relating to the FAA’s investigation.

There is an exception to the notification requirement—if the FAA determines that providing the notification could threaten the integrity of the investigation, no notification is required. However, even in this rare case, your rights still apply.

If you need help responding to an FAA investigation, AOPA’s Legal Services Plan can be reached at 800-872-2672.

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.
Topics: Accident

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