August 16, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
Applicants for airman certificates or ratings, inspection authorizations, and airman medical certificates will soon find a new item in the paperwork for their practical test or medical examination: a Pilot’s Bill of Rights Written Notification of Investigation from the FAA.
The notification, which must be acknowledged in writing by the applicant at the time of the application, is among the provisions of an FAA order issued Aug. 8 in response to enactment of the Pilot’s Bill of Rights law, which was signed by President Barack Obama on Aug. 3. The law guarantees pilots under investigation by the FAA expanded protection against enforcement actions through access to investigative reports, and air traffic control and flight service recordings. It also requires that the FAA provide evidence being used as the basis of enforcement at least 30 days in advance of action.
The law and some of the required notifications will apply to the application of an airman certificate, including medical certificates even though these have not been considered “investigations” by the industry. The term “investigation” as used in Title 49, US Code, Section 44703 states that the FAA Administrator “shall issue a certificate to an individual when the Administrator finds, after investigation, that the individual is qualified for, and physically able to perform the duties related to, the position to be authorized by the certificate.”
FAA Order 8900.195, titled “Requirement for Written Notification During Investigations of Airman Certificate Holders or Applicants,” provides guidance to FAA field offices and inspectors who will communicate the information to the designated pilot examiners. The order also includes a sample written notification that applicants will see when applying for certificates and ratings.
Until Oct. 1, when online application for medical certificates will become mandatory, applicants for medical certificates will be required to sign the written notification form at the time of the physical examination. After Oct. 1, the MedXpress medical application process will include a disclosure validation ascertaining that the applicant is aware of his/her rights under the Pilot’s Bill of Rights.
Although the use of the term investigation in connection with applying for airman certificates represents a departure from the accustomed process, the notification serves as a reminder to pilots to exercise caution and diligence when filling out official forms, and to seek assistance where necessary.
No other aspects of the application for airman certificates were changed.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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