In a recent rulemaking1, FAA updated these regulations to fix inconsistencies and reflect changes in organizational structure and authorities. For example, the old 14 CFR § 13.29, which pertained to FAA enforcement actions involving airport security screening or checked baggage weapons violations, has been removed because the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now handles these instead of FAA.
More relevant to general aviation pilots is a change to the new § 13.5(g)' which governs what actions FAA may take if their investigation substantiates allegations of a violation. As proposed, the new § 13.5(g) (formerly § 13.5 (j)) referenced only enforcement actions. As a result of feedback from commenters, FAA noted in the Final Rule that “FAA did not intend to limit its ability to choose an appropriate response…including taking administrative or compliance action.” FAA changed the proposed language to reflect the discretion it has under its Compliance Program2 and other guidance, and the final version of § 13.5(g) reads “If the investigation substantiates the allegations set forth in the complaint, the Administrator may take action in accordance with applicable law and FAA policy.”
FAA investigations come in many shapes and sizes, but one piece of advice applies to them all: before responding to an FAA investigation, it is advisable to consult with experienced aviation counsel. AOPA’s Legal Services Plan can be reached at 800-872-2672.