Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2004
Have you ever had an incident and wondered how long you would have to wait before you could stop worrying about whether the FAA was going to take any action against you? Here is a recent Federal Court of Appeals decision that deals with this question, a question that is important to many pilots and other FAA certificate holders. Specifically, how long does the FAA have to bring a legal enforcement action that would suspend or revoke an FAA certificate? How long can such a threat hang over a pilot's head? Isn't there a statute of limitations as in other areas of the law, a statute that prevents the enforcement of claims after a period of time? Statutes of limitations are a policy declaration "that it is unjust to fail to put an adversary on notice to defend within a specified period of time, and that the right to be free of stale claims in time comes to prevail over the right to prosecute them." So what is the statutory limitation that applies to FAA certificate actions? The answer, technically, is "none." According to the NTSB, the federal civil statute of limitations, which logically should apply, does not.