- Attorney, Counsel to AOPA
- Former FAA attorney
- Has assisted AOPA members for more than 13 years
- Pilot since 1994, owns a Cherokee 180
- PPS participants-only:
Article archives >>
Did you know that when you apply for an FAA airman certificate or rating or submit an application for a medical certificate that the FAA is “investigating” your qualifications? Most of us don’t think about the FAA application process as an “investigation” but that’s what the FAA statute says: “The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall issue an airman 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.” So, thinking about it, it makes sense to call the FAA’s review of your qualifications an investigation because the FAA is, after all, checking the information you have provided and examining whether you are entitled to be granted the certificate or rating that you seek. Still, in our aviation environment, the words “investigation by the FAA” seems almost always to imply that there is something wrong and that the FAA is looking into what you did wrong.
Why am I bringing this up? Because the language that describes what the FAA does when you submit an application probably hasn’t mattered much to you up to now. But the next time you submit an application to the FAA, you may be surprised, even alarmed, to receive written notification from the FAA that you are under investigation. You may even be required to sign an official-looking form that is meant to prove that you received that notification. I would certainly be asking about what is going on. The reason for the change is simple, and it’s good for pilots. You will now be receiving a written notification of an investigation every time you apply for a certificate, including each time you visit your AME, because of the newly enacted Pilot’s Bill of Rights. Let me explain why this is a good thing. To continue reading…
Kathy Yodice is an aviation attorney for AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services and Legal Services Plan. She’s assisted AOPA members for more than 13 years and is a former FAA attorney. Kathy owns a Cherokee 180 and has been a pilot since 1994.