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Changes In FAA Enforcement Procedures

Mon Aug 03, 2015 4:07 am

The recent release of FAA Order 8000.373 is destined to cause some inconvenient discussions amongst pilots and certificate holders currently operating within the National Airspace System. After all, the risk of enforcement action brought against pilots is a valid and well established risk factor in day to day operations, yet the FAA is changing in some ways we may not have anticipated.


It seems as if the FAA has suddenly decided to work with pilots, rather than against them, a concept already met by severe skepticism when the FAAST Wings Program was established in the U.S. This, by many pilots, was perceived as the Camel sticking its nose into the tent. The metaphor describes the fact that some government "outreach" can be the beginning of a ultimate control and power grab. The act is often viewed as a first step towards erosion of a "system", to gain more knowledge for enforcement actions through people who naturally tend to believe that the government is really there to help.

Being a two or three time "FAA Master Wings" and "Sea Wings" holder myself, I have used some of my publishing resources to promote and foster the concept of "voluntary" training and education to become or remain safety conscious. Lets be honest, informed and educated pilots who stay humble tend to live longer. But, this act backfired when I learned that being involved with FAAST would negatively affect my opportunities to find gainful employment within the aviation industry. I learned in unmistakable terms that being involved with "those from the FAA" is a guaranteed recipe to land my CV in the "Ignore These" bin. "You're a RAT if you work with them on anything!". I changed course quickly, resigned from FAAST and started to write more about Seaplane Safety as those are the pilots I mostly dealt with.

FAA is increasingly aiming to place the decision to initiate enforcement action or not in the hands of FSDO Inspectors. Remedial training and education are viewed as more effective means to the end, than blind and harsh enforcement action, removing otherwise good pilots from their activity while at the same time overloading the system to the maximum. The very same people we have been taught to avoid at all cost will soon be deciding what constitutes an enforceable act and what doesn't. Not only will we have to change our demeanor and stand during ramp-checks, we will also find added need for cooperation and voluntary compliance with the FAA Inspectors in the field. Denying information or refusing to make statements was previously viewed as a "Miranda Style" approach to avoid going into likely expensive and often senseless litigation and to have time to mount defense. According to the new doctrine, this system isn't going to work.

Alan L Farkas in a Guest Editorial On AVweb wrote:The difficulty this presents is that for years we’ve been advising certificate holders to avoid providing any information to the FSDO investigators, and one of the hallmarks of the Pilot’s Bill of Rights was the provision of Miranda like warning to alleged violators that they need not respond to the FAA and anything they say can and will be used against them. Cases won’t be resolved at the FSDO level if certificate holders refuse to share information with the FSDO investigators. On the other hand, the first certificate holders that share information with the expectation that the FAA will employ a soft approach may be taking a big risk.

I Can't Make Up My Mind

While I generally appreciate any act that leads to less enforcement actions against pilots (I'll take the slap if my violation was incidental or unintended) I have to wonder if this is Huerta aiming to position the FAA in a better light, or if this is done simply to prepare for the FLOOD of issues which will be arising out of the agencies numbing approach to sensitive drone and UAS regulation and the consequence of realizing that the light at the end of the tunnel was in fact a freight train. Don't forget: The FAA is setting up to take regulatory responsibility for MILLIONS of private and commercial UAS operations!

Before too long they won't have the capacity to deal with pesky little General Aviation pilots barking loudly at every single NPRM. Someone is also apparently expecting a boatload of lawsuits when remotely controlled machines start crashing through people's roofs, carrying the neighbors new Amazon purchase, or in a best case scenario, a good looking Pizza. We can simply remove the drone debris from the topping and enjoy free food!

Maybe people there have realized that reduced and declining General Aviation activity is to blame for our flat accident numbers.

Its certainly not Medicals or Regulations...
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