Pilots Bill of Rights for Mechanics

There is a lot of confusion in the aviation industry currently about the Pilot’s Bill of Rights (PBR) and does this apply to anyone other than pilots? The simple answer is the name is a little misleading Pilot’s Bill of Rights, a better name would have been Airmen Bill of Rights, but it does apply to anyone that hold an U.S. FAA certificate, rating or designation. Any time you submit for an FAA airman certificate or rating or submitting an application for a medical certificate, rating change, designation or even a mechanics rating the FAA is “investigating” your qualifications? We don’t think about the FAA application process as an “investigation”, but that’s what the FAA statute indicates: “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.” You will see this statement in the Pilot Bill of Rights you will receive. So, it does make sense to call the FAA’s review of your qualifications is 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 are requesting. 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. On August 3, 2012, the Pilot’s Bill of Rights (PBR or “the Act”) Public Law 112-153 became effective, requiring the FAA provide certain written notifications to individuals who are the subject of an investigation relating to a certificate suspension, revocation, or modification action or the approval or denial of a certificate. The law also requires that the FAA make accessible to such individuals air traffic data that would facilitate the individual’s ability to productively participate in a proceeding relating to an investigation described in the Act. The PBR requires written notification of the following as applicable: • The nature of the investigation; • That oral or written response to a Letter of Investigation (LOI) from the Administrator is not required; • That no action or adverse inference can be taken against the individual for declining to respond to a LOI from the Administrator; • That any response to a LOI from the Administrator or to an inquiry made by a representative of the Administrator by the individual may be used as evidence against the individual; • That the releasable portions of the Administrator’s investigative report will be available to the individual at an appropriate time; and • Where applicable, that the individual is entitled to access or otherwise obtain air traffic data. As a Designated Mechanic Examiner (DME), I am required by procedure to have the applicant read and sign a Pilots Bill of Rights statement before I can conduct an Oral and Practical test for their Airframe and/or Powerplant ratings. This will be forward to the my local FSDO with the entire airman application package and sent on to Airman Records in Oklahoma City to be made of your permanent file. The Pilots Bill of Rights is intimidating when you first see and read it as it states: “PILOT’S BILL OF RIGHTS WRITTEN NOTIFICAITON OF INVESTIGATION”. The words “notification of investigation” I think is misleading and for this reason is scary. Simply what this means is what I stated above. Anytime you take a computer written test airman records will send you a Pilots Bill of Rights statement that indicates they have reviewed your application. It is NOT a FAA investigation just a review of an application so not to worry. The FAA now requires any time an application is submitted for a FAA certificate, rating or designation that the applicant sign a Pilots Bill of Rights. You are not under any formal investigation you are being advise you now have certain rights. Before the Pilots Bill of Rights, you were not notified when the FAA was investigating you for something now they must notify you in advance. This is a BIG change in the way the FAA does business. The FAA has several different version of the Pilot Bill of Rights depending if it is review of an application, or rating change to a test such as I would use as a DME, which is very different than the one the FAA would send you if you were under an investigation. Each PBR will read different depending on what the situation is. Application for an Airman Certificate, Rating, or Inspection Authorization (IA). Applications for airman certificates, ratings, or inspection authorizations involve FAA investigations (review) of an individual’s qualifications to hold the airman certificate, rating, or inspection authorization for which the individual has applied. Because such investigations are not for the purpose of determining whether a violation exists, the inspector does not issue an LOI and therefore only some of the written notifications under the PBR apply. Any individual who applies for an airman certificate, rating, or inspection authorization must receive and acknowledge receipt of the written notification of investigation (Appendix B) at the time of the application. The signed acknowledgment of receipt of the written notification must be retained with the individual’s application. Under the PBR, the individual subject to an investigation under the Act must be given written notification that any response to an inquiry by the FAA in connection with the investigation may be used as evidence against them. For instance, if an inspector seeks to interview an individual who the inspector knows is the subject of the investigation, but for some reason the inspector has not issued the LOI to the individual or has not yet opened an EIR (e.g., during a routine ramp inspection), the inspector must provide timely, written notification under the PBR, providing the required notification at that time would threaten the integrity of the investigation, and the inspector obtains the concurrence of Regional Counsel to invoke the exception to the notification requirements. The airman must acknowledge receipt of this notification that the FAA inspector would retain and if an EIR were later opened, the inspector would include the signed acknowledgment in the EIR. In my Inspection Authorization (IA) renewal course, I teach I cover the Pilots Bill of Right in detail and something that is NOT to be feared. Moreover, yes, it does cover us mechanics as well. Recently there has been some additional changes to the PBR, but mostly for pilots and medical certificates. There is a lot of confusion and misinformation being passed around about not signing a Pilots Bill of Rights with applications. However, the bottom line is if you DO NOT sign a Pilots Bill of Rights with your application, the FAA will not process your application for ratings or designation. This is PBR is new for us mechanics as well for the FAA in processing our applications.

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