Pilot Counsel:

Your FAA mailing address

January 1, 2009

John S. Yodice owns and flies a Cessna 310 from Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK) in Maryland.

Pilots are still inadvertently suffering from failing to keep their addresses current at the FAA. And, a related recurring problem is pilots failing to pick up their mail from their addresses on record with the FAA. Many of you may appreciate this reminder from time to time.

I, too, need reminding to make this reminder. My reminder came in a recent legal decision in which a pilot lost important procedural rights because he didn’t pick up his mail at the address that was officially on record for him at the FAA. This kind of problem, and problems because pilots do not notify FAA of changes of address, keep recurring with disturbing frequency. It is surprising how often pilots change addresses.

Here are the procedural steps that led to the legal decision. The FAA issued an order revoking the pilot’s air transport pilot certificate and his first-class medical certificate. The order alleged that he failed to timely notify the FAA of a “motor vehicle action,” and the order alleged that he falsified his application for his medical certificate by not disclosing the “motor vehicle action.” The pilot denied these allegations but never had the opportunity to defend against them. That’s because the FAA sent the revocation order to his address officially on record with the FAA. The FAA sent the order not only via Federal Express overnight delivery service, but also by certified mail, and by regular mail to another address the FAA had for the pilot. And the FAA later sent a follow-up notification by e-mail. Apparently, the FAA did what it could to get the order to the pilot.

When the order eventually caught up with the pilot, he wanted to fight the revocations and disprove the allegations. He appealed to the National Transportation Safety Board (a procedural right that we have described in earlier columns). Under the board’s rules, the pilot was required to file his appeal within 10 days of the service of the FAA order. The pilot was unable to meet this deadline because he did not get actual notice until after the time for appeal had expired. The pilot filed his appeal more than a month later, after he got the actual notice, explaining that he was often away from home for extended periods of time because he was completing training for a new job and visiting friends. The FAA filed a motion to dismiss the appeal as untimely, and the NTSB, refusing to accept the pilot’s explanation, granted it. The NTSB has historically been tough on procedural deadlines, especially against pilots. The revocations were affirmed. Reason enough for keeping the FAA advised.

Another, perhaps more compelling, reason for this reminder is the loss of piloting privileges that comes from failing to notify the FAA of a change of address. Section 61.60 of the Federal Aviation Regulations requires a pilot (or flight instructor or ground instructor) to give written notification to the FAA of any change in permanent mailing address. After a 30-day grace period, if this notification is not given, the pilot may not exercise the privileges of his or her certificate until the required notification is given.

The regulation requires that a written notification of a change in permanent mailing address must be sent to the FAA, Airman Certification Branch, Post Office Box 25082, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73125. Along with your new address, include your date of birth and your airman certificate/social security number. If the mailing address includes a post office box number, then the current residential address must also be given. The FAA will not routinely issue another airman certificate with the new address printed on it. If you want another certificate, you must specifically request one, and enclose a check for $2 payable to the FAA. If you don’t, your certificate with the old address is still valid.

The FAA now allows a change of address to be made online.

A frequently asked question is whether a change of address noted on an FAA medical application form, or an FAA application form for a pilot certificate/rating, complies with FAR 61.60. As a matter of fact, the FAA does ordinarily change a pilot’s mailing address if a new one is given on such an application form. However, the FAA’s unofficial response to this question is no, changing an address on an FAA application form doesn’t satisfy the specific requirement of the regulation. So, you should technically comply with the requirement by notifying the Airman Certification Branch by letter or online. Remember, too, even if the FAA application legally constitutes the required notice (as could be argued), it would be fortuitous if your date of application falls within the 30-day grace period allowed under the rule. Think about it. For some of you, your pilot logbook could be evidence of past violations. Practically speaking, notifying the FAA of a change of address now should cure past problems