We know you have questions. We have your answers.
*These responses cover most but not every scenario. If you have additional questions or want to discuss your individual case, feel free to contact Curry, Pearson & Wooten P.L.C. We are here to help you.
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I am a pilot here in Scottsdale, and I just received a letter of correction from the FAA—am I in trouble?
As a pilot, it can often feel as though the Federal Aviation Administration goes a little overboard with enforcement actions and inspections. Behind the façade of rules and punishments, however, the FAA’s primary goal is to keep aviation safe for everyone. When pilots commit gross violations and infractions, the system may be safer without that particular pilot flying for a year or more, which is why certificates are suspended or revoked. For smaller mistakes or infractions, however, different action may be more appropriate.
As a Phoenix-area pilot, you know full well how challenging our airspace can be under VFR flight rules. With expansive Class B, restricted airspace, and heavy VFR traffic going into and out of several smaller area airports, nearly everyone has been at risk of making a mistake such as missing a radio call or clipping Class B or D airspace inadvertently. When you have a small violation—or even a near violation—even the FAA understands that legal enforcement actions are too much. This is where administrative actions like warning letters or your letter of correction come into play.
Your letter probably contains information on your alleged violation, as well as steps you will need to take to ensure that you are compliant in the future. Whether it is a training course that you need to take or important logbook updates, you will be given a timeframe in which you need to complete the corrective actions and report back to the FAA. Once you are in compliance, your letter of correction will be kept in your file with the FAA for two years. If you do not comply, the FAA may choose to pursue legal enforcement such as a certificate suspension.
While administrative actions like your letter of correction have less of an impact on your certificate than a legal enforcement action, it holds equal weight and importance with the FAA. Just as with a more serious infraction, you will want to be absolutely sure that you understand what you did to receive the letter and what you will need to do to become compliant. If something is unclear, or you disagree that you committed the alleged violation, it may be wise to discuss the situation with an attorney.
The Arizona aviation attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten are experienced pilots and veteran FAA employees familiar with what is required to stay safe and compliant. If you have a question regarding an administrative action taken against you, call us now at 602-258-1000 to discuss your situation with a lawyer.
My friend recently got ramp checked by the FAA over at Falcon Field, and found that he was out of compliance with several things. What can I expect if I am ever ramp checked?
The Federal Aviation Administration has a bad reputation of trying to make pilots’ and aircraft owners’ lives miserable for the sake of misery. While most people are seldom overjoyed to see an FAA inspector out on their ramp, it is important to remember one thing: the FAA wants to keep you safe. Making sure that you are compliant is mostly to ensure that you and your aircraft are not a risk to anyone or anything.
Generally speaking, a ramp check is a fairly quick and painless process for a pilot who does not operate commercially. The inspector is basically “checking” two entities, you and your plane. The inspector will want to be sure that you have the following items with you:
- Your airman certificate;
- Your medical certificate;
- Government-issued photo ID, and
- If you are a student pilot, your logbook and proper endorsements.
As far as the plane goes, remember back to your early piloting days with endless acronyms and memory aids for everything, like ARROW? That is precisely what the inspector will look for, with the addition of a few other things:
- Airworthiness certificate;
- Aircraft registration;
- Operating handbook/flight manual;
- Weight and balance information;
- Current TAC and sectional charts for your route of flight, and
- Current AFD
Having all of your required items is not the only thing you need for a successful ramp check—you will also need a good attitude. Many pilots see an FAA inspector and immediately go on the defense, creating more tension and problems than necessary. Remember, the end goal is to make sure that you are contributing to and part of a safe aviation environment.
If you are facing an enforcement action following a ramp check and do not agree with the inspector’s findings, talk to a Phoenix aviation attorney from Curry, Pearson & Wooten today at 602-258-1000 to find out what your next move should be.
I’ve just filed for bankruptcy in Phoenix, but one of my creditors is arguing that my debt to them cannot be discharged. What does this mean for my case?
In an ideal Arizona bankruptcy case, your debts are discharged and you are protected from harassment from your creditors. For you, this is considered a good thing. For your creditors, it is understandably a bit less palatable.
Of course, while most creditors are not happy to have your debt to them discharged, they will usually let it happen without much fuss, as bankruptcy law states clearly which debts are dischargeable. In your situation, it sounds as though this particular creditor disagrees that the debt you owe them falls under the category of dischargeable debt.
You may be wondering why the creditor is objecting the discharge of this particular debt to begin with. While a common reason for discharge objection is intentional falsification of financial or tax statements, the odds are that the reason is something far less sinister. Oftentimes, in a last ditch attempt to pay bills or even get by before filing for bankruptcy, filers will charge large amounts to their credit cards or take out cash advances. If you did this within a certain window of filing for bankruptcy, your creditor will likely prevail.
In order to dispute the discharge of the debt in question, the creditor must first file an objection with the bankruptcy court. This objection must be filed no later than 60 days after your 341 meeting. This will not affect the discharge of any of your other debts. If the objection is successful, you will be required to repay your debt; if the objection fails, the debt will be discharged along with the rest.
If you feel as though this dispute has been wrongfully filed and you have questions as to what may be next for you, Curry, Pearson & Wooten’s Phoenix bankruptcy attorneys are standing by to help. Call us now at 602-258-1000 to learn more.
I was recently coming in to land at Deer Valley Airport when I was told to call Phoenix TRACON because of a possible pilot deviation—what should I do?
While the Phoenix area does offer pilots an outstanding environment to fly thanks to unbeatable weather and airfield availability, it is also an extremely challenging place to fly in its own right. With numerous Class D and C airports and several restricted areas, as well as a very complex Class B airspace surrounding Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, it is no wonder that pilots are often informed of possible deviations.
The infamous “phone number” transmission from an air traffic controller is never one a pilot wants to receive. This is usually the very first step the FAA takes to determine if a pilot has committed an infraction that is serious enough to warrant an enforcement action on their certificate. While you are not legally required to call the number provided, if the event in question was a relatively minor one, a quick phone call may be all you need to set things straight. If you are concerned that you may have violated something more serious, you may want to hold off on calling until you speak to an aviation lawyer so that you do not further incriminate yourself.
As long as your deviation was unintentional and did not include an accident or incident, you can file a NASA Form ARC 277B. This form can provide you with immunity from enforcement action as long as you have not been found guilty of violating a FAR within the past five years. Available both online and in a print-out/mail in version, you must submit the form within 10 days of the event in question. To err on the side of caution, you may still want to have an attorney read over your report before you hit “submit” or mail it in—it can never hurt to be sure that your bases are covered.
If you have received a "number" to call and would like to discuss your options, the Phoenix aviation attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten can help guide you through the self-reporting process—call us today at 602-258-1000.
My Arizona bankruptcy case was dismissed by the court, but I am unsure why—did I do something wrong?
Filing for bankruptcy in Arizona takes a lot of time, effort, and even costs a considerable amount of money. There are seemingly endless forms that you must fill out, careful analysis of your assets and finances to be done, and many items to check off on the “to-do” list before your debts can be discharged.
Assuming that you have not committed bankruptcy fraud, which would be an automatic dismissal, there are still several small details that may have tripped up the success of your petition. One of the most common reasons that a person’s case was dismissed is that he or she failed to submit all of the required paperwork, forms, and documents to the court or the trustee. A missing tax return or pay stub could be the only thing standing between you and a solid case for bankruptcy; if this is the case, you can refile right away and include these items with a much more favorable outcome.
If you feel as though your case was dismissed before it could even get to the point of submitting paperwork, you could be right. Pre-filing credit counseling is mandatory, and if you have not completed a course—or forgot to submit the certificate of completion—your petition will be denied. Another reason cases are dismissed in the early stages is a means test failure—if you make too much money to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your case will be dismissed. If this is the case, filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy could yield better results.
Whatever the reason, if your case was dismissed because of simple errors, you will be able to refile right away. The experienced Arizona bankruptcy attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten can help you refile a more airtight case—call us today at 602-258-1000 to discuss your options with a lawyer now!
I was just involved in an aircraft incident in Phoenix, but there were only minor injuries and minimal damage to my small aircraft. Will I need to report this to the NTSB, or will I need a lawyer?
Arizona aviation incidents can be a tricky, grey area. With a full-fledged accident (remembering back to your private pilot exam, an accident results in death or serious injury and substantial aircraft damage), it is very clear that you must always immediately notify the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). What should you do if the event in question is, by definition, only an incident?
While many pilots want to err on the side of caution and report everything, it is incredibly important that you carefully evaluate what happened before discussing the event with the NTSB or Federal Aviation Administration. While we would all like to think that the FAA is “on our side” as pilots, its job is also to enforce rules and safety—sometimes at the cost of your hard-earned certifications.
The need to send a report to the NTSB depends on what exactly was involved in your incident. If the event in question involved one of the following, you will need to submit a report immediately:
- Failure or malfunction of a flight control system;
- Inability of a required flight crewmember to perform his or her normal flight duties because of illness or injury;
- In-flight fire;
- Mid-air collision with another aircraft;
- Damage to property exceeding $25,000,
- Or, if your aircraft is a turbine engine, engine component failure not involving the compressor or blades.
If your Phoenix aviation incident involved one of the above factors, you will need to speak with the NTSB, which will likely involve a follow-up conversation with an FAA inspector to make sure that the incident did not involve any FAR violations. At Curry, Pearson & Wooten, our experienced Arizona aviation accident attorneys can help prepare you for your possible investigation. Call us today at 602-258-1000 to discuss your plan of action with a knowledgeable aviation lawyer now.
I filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Scottsdale last year, but I can no longer keep up with my payment schedule—what are my options?
An Arizona Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a big financial commitment. For three to five years, you are expected to adhere strictly to a repayment plan that was designed to work with your current financial situation, including your income and current debts. What happens, then, if you lose your job or have a major medical emergency? Suddenly, the payment schedule that seemed so simple may become an unbearable burden.
Luckily, for many people, there is a solution to help you cope with your difficult new situation. If you have not received a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge within the last eight years, you may be eligible to convert your Chapter 13 bankruptcy to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
In order to convert your case, you will need to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy just as you would if you filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy from the start. You will be required to pass the Chapter 7 means test, which compares your income and expenses to your current debt. While you may not have initially passed this test, if your financial situation has changed—such as losing a job or getting divorced—you may pass when your new circumstances are considered.
Once you pass the means test, the procedure for conversion is very similar to your initial Chapter 13 filing process. You will need to attend another meeting with a bankruptcy trustee, and address any new debts you have taken on since your last filing.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your current Chapter 13 repayment plan, you do not have to continue to struggle alone. The Arizona bankruptcy attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten are available to help you find a solution to your debt. Simply call us at 602-258-1000 or toll free at 888-929-5292 to discuss your options with an experienced lawyer today.
I have just filed my petition for bankruptcy in Phoenix, and my creditors’ meeting is coming up—what can I expect?
The very early stages of any Arizona bankruptcy are always stressful. Going through your debt-to-income ratio with a fine tooth comb is harrowing enough, but when you factor in the possibility—even likelihood—of having to liquidate some of your personal property, the experience can be downright crushing. Factor in having to go to a creditors’ meeting with your bankruptcy trustee grilling you, and it is easy to see why you might be fighting off nerves and dread.
The good news is that this meeting is less of an attack zone than you are expecting. In fact, creditors rarely even attend the meeting, so it is more commonly referred to as a 341 hearing. At this hearing, you are basically verifying that you are who you claim to be, and that the petition you filed is complete and factual.
When you attend the hearing, you will be required to bring a government-issued photo ID along with your social security card or other proof of your SSN. At the meeting, a notice called the “Bankruptcy Information Sheet” will be posted for you to read prior to beginning the meeting. This short, two-page notice describe the basics of bankruptcy.
When the meeting begins, you will be sworn in, and the trustee will begin asking you straightforward questions about your petition. He or she is essentially trying to verify that everything you own and every debt you owe is listed on your petition so that your bankruptcy can go as smoothly as possible.
While this meeting may seem intimidating, it will likely be over in less than 15 minutes, unless your case is particularly complicated. As your bankruptcy lawyers, Curry, Pearson & Wooten will work with you to ensure that your petition is filed correctly, and can help prepare you for your 341 hearing. Call us at 602-258-1000 to speak with an experienced Phoenix bankruptcy attorney today.
Can I stop the foreclosure process on my home by filing for bankruptcy in Arizona?
When debts begin to pile up or you have lost your job, it can be very easy to fall behind in your mortgage payments. If you miss enough payments, your lender may initiate the foreclosure process on your home to recover payment against your debt.
That does not mean, however, that you are simply expected to throw your hands up and hand over the home that you worked so hard for. By filing for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can temporarily hold off your lenders. The automatic stay, one of the most important parts of an Arizona bankruptcy, is a protection that prevents lenders and creditors from pursuing collection of your debt for a certain amount of time.
If you are employed and make a livable wage, filing for an Arizona Chapter 13 bankruptcy will likely be your best option. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to make a three- to five-year repayment plan on your debt—including your current and unpaid mortgage payments—allowing you to remain in your home as long as you stick with your payment plan and schedule.
If you do not qualify for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may still be a viable option. While the automatic stay is temporary, it does buy you some time. Also, if you are current on your mortgage payments but have other debts, discharging the other debts in bankruptcy could allow you to continue paying your mortgage and living in your home without fear of foreclosure.
Bankruptcy is not a foolproof way to escape foreclosure, but under the right circumstances it can be a useful tool. Our Arizona bankruptcy attorneys can help ensure that you gain the maximum possible protection and benefits from your Phoenix area bankruptcy case. If you are concerned about losing your home to foreclosure, the time to act is now—call us at 602-258-1000 to speak with a lawyer today.
I am married and considering filing for bankruptcy without my spouse. How will the Arizona bankruptcy courts decide how our property will be used to pay off my creditors?
There is no doubt that being married while filing for bankruptcy makes the process more confusing and challenging. Deciding whether to file alone or jointly is a huge decision, but if only one of you is in debt, it may make the most sense to file alone.
When you do file alone, property owned by your spouse alone may be protected from creditors, but it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what property is at stake. Many married couples own things together, which makes the process even more challenging.
Arizona is a community property state, which makes filing alone a bit more confusing. In a common law state, if your name alone is on the deed, you own it—period. In a community property state, spouses typically have a 50/50 share in all property, income, and debt of the household. That means that if during your marriage your spouse bought a car and registered it in her name, Arizona community property law still sees that car as being owned by both of you. This leaves a lot of property “up for grabs” when it comes to repaying your creditors.
If your spouse came into your marriage with a lot of property, or inherited money specifically in her name, that property is likely considered separate property and will be protected from creditors. Separate property consists of:
- Property owned by you or your spouse before your marriage
- Gifts given to just one of you during your marriage
- Property or money inherited by only one of you during your marriage
While some separate property does become entangled with community property making the division more difficult, our Valley bankruptcy attorneys can help walk you through your assets to determine what may be at risk when you file. Call Curry, Pearson & Wooten today at 602-258-1000 to speak with an experienced Phoenix bankruptcy lawyer and decide your next step.