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.