TFR trouble: What you need to know
When a Blackhawk helicopter or F-16 is off your wing, the last thing you’re thinking about is what the FAA is going to do once you get on the ground. That thought won’t likely cross your mind until you’re safe on the ground and have stopped shaking.
Then reality sets in, and you realize that you violated a temporary flight restriction (TFR). The FAA will be asking for your certificate. So what do you do?
In the case of a TFR violation, the FAA must go after your certificate, at least for a temporary suspension. But you have rights, stressed AOPA Legal Counsel John Yodice.
The FAA must send you a notice of proposed certificate action. Then you will have the opportunity to meet informally with an FAA lawyer (Yodice recommends you take one as well). You’ll have a chance to explain what happened. Let’s say, for example, flight service told you there were no TFRs along your route of flight. Often, the case can be settled through this conference.
If it isn’t resolved, the FAA will issue an order to suspend or revoke your certificate. You can appeal that order to the NTSB and, in most cases, continue flying while the case is being heard. (Only in emergency cases can the FAA immediately ground you.) Even after an unfavorable decision, you can appeal your case to higher levels.
With the prevalence of pop-up TFRs, pilots can no longer say, “It can’t happen to me.” That’s why it is important to be protected. Through the AOPA Legal Services Plan (LSP), you have access to aviation attorneys.
“You get a lawyer for so little money,” Yodice said. As low as $29 a year for private pilots.
The LSP lawyers can help in other areas too and provide advice if you’re faced with an action like a request for a 709 check.
What if you are requested to take a 709 check? Yodice recommends that you get some flight instruction in the area you will be tested and get the instructor to sign your logbook. Then, show that endorsement to the FAA inspector before your 709 check.
“This shows that you have a very positive attitude, a compliant attitude, a safety attitude,” Yodice said, explaining that the inspector would look upon you more favorably.
For more information on FARs and FAA enforcement, see the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s SafetyCast “Regulations: What every pilot should know.”
August 12, 2008