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Federal Administrative Proceedings

The administrative proceedings before the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are generally regulated by Congress through express provisions.  Pursuant to 49 USCS § 46101, a person can file a complaint about another person in writing, with the administrator of FAA, with respect to the violation of regulations for aviation safety.  Upon receiving the complaint, the administrator shall investigate the complaint to find out whether there is any reasonable ground for investigation.  If the administrator is of the opinion that the complaint does not state facts that warrant an investigation or action, then the administrator will dismiss the complaint without a hearing.  In cases where the administrator finds that there is ground for investigation, the administrator shall after serving notice and giving an opportunity for hearing, issue an order compelling compliance with the regulations on aviation safety.

Congress has further provided that the proceedings before the administrator must be conducted in a manner that is conducive to justice and the proper dispatch of business.  The service of notice and process in any proceeding before the administrator must be made either by personal service, on a designated agent, or by certified or registered mail to the person to be served or on the designated agent of the person.  The date of service made by certified or registered mail is generally the date of mailing.  However, if an air carrier or foreign air carrier does not have a designated agent, then service may be made by posting the notice, process, or action in the office of the administrator[i].

Generally, a person may appear and be heard before the administrator in person or by an attorney.  However in cases where the administrator has a pecuniary interest in the complaint, the administrator will not participate in such proceedings.  The proceedings before the administrator must be recorded and it will be open to the public on the request of an interested party for perusal.  But, if the administrator is of the opinion that the proceedings require secrecy because of national defense, then the proceedings will not be open for perusal[ii].

While conducting a proceeding or investigation, the administrator can:

•        subpoena witnesses to give testimony by deposition and to produce records;

•        administer oaths;

•        examine witnesses; and

•        receive evidence at a place in the U.S. where the administrator designates.

Any order passed by the administrator will be served on the parties to the proceeding and the persons affected by the order.  Generally, such order shall include the findings of fact on which the order is based[iii].  The order passed by the administrator is enforced by bringing a civil action against a person in a district court of the U.S.  Such actions must be brought in the judicial district in which the person carries on his/her business or where the violation occurred[iv].

[i] 49 USCS § 46103.

[ii] 49 USCS § 46102.

[iii] 49 USCS § 46105.

[iv] 49 USCS § 46106.

Inside Federal Administrative Proceedings