Did I Do Something Wrong ? Mandatory Occurrence Reports

From time to time in the Legal Services Plan (LSP), we get a call that goes something like this: I was cleared for take-off at a towered field. As I was accelerating down the runway, I noticed an issue that required me to abort take-off.

I advised tower, pulled off the runway, cleared the issue, and received a new take-off clearance. I took off and completed my flight without issue. A few weeks later, the FAA is calling me about the aborted take-off. Did I do something wrong? What regulation did I violate?

Aborted take-offs, in and of themselves, are not violations of any regulation. But they are events that the FAA has asked air traffic controllers to report, and they may lead to follow-up from the FAA. In FAA Order JO 7210.632A, the FAA instructs ATC employees of their obligation to report various “occurrences.” The order’s purpose is to “ensure that safety data that may benefit the [National Airspace System] are collected.”

Aborted take-offs are just one of several types of occurrences that ATC is required to report. Others include loss of separation, loss of expected communication, emergencies, and more. Some occurrences may not be associated with regulatory violations. These may include a medical emergency or an equipment malfunction. Other occurrences, however, may involve potential regulatory violations, such as entering a runway without clearance. Controllers should alert you with a Brasher warning (N12345 possible pilot deviation, advise you contact [ATC facility] at [phone number]) if the occurrence includes a possible deviation.

Any unexpected contact from the FAA can be unnerving, regardless of whether it involves a deviation. To ensure that your response does not prejudice your rights, it is a good idea to speak with LSP before you discuss any event with the FAA. 

Daniel Hassing was a trusted PPS panel attorney before officially joining AOPA. He received his bachelor’s in psychology and Spanish from the University of     Nebraska-Omaha. He obtained his Juris Doctorate from the University of   Nebraska. Daniel has also earned his private pilot license.

 In his spare time, Daniel enjoys spending time with his wife, their daughter, and  their dog.  He also plays golf and guitar (poorly).  He is holding out hope that  his Nebraska Cornhuskers will have a good season this year but, as has been the case for the past 20 years, is prepared for crushing disappointment.

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