Aviation Law Articles

F.A.A. and Keeping Paperwork “Clean”

Your aircraft can be seized, taken away and even sold if it is being used for an improper purpose and/or the aircraft paperwork is incorrect. Even if your aircraft is suspected of being involved in some illegal drug activity, it is subject to seizure pursuant to the Drug Enforcement Act of 1988. Even if the owner is entirely innocent of any wrongdoing, it can take several months or more to get your aircraft released from the authorities. The owner may even be charged “storage” fees that can amount to several thousand dollars. If the aircraft has been involved in any such illegal activity, it may be lost.

Under the Act, in addition to that “crime,” the Drug Enforcement Agency can seize an aircraft if it is operated with an incorrect registration, if the aircraft is operated by a person who doesn’t have a valid pilot certificate, or just if it is operated without a valid pilot certificate and/or displays an incorrect aircraft “N” number. Besides seizure of the aircraft, the owner or operator is subject to substantial monetary fines (up to $15,000.00) and up to three years in prison.

Therefore, before an aircraft is operated, make sure it is properly registered with the F.A.A. and make sure the pilot or pilots are property certificated and carry their certificates with them. Also, make sure that there are no “suspicious” activities around the aircraft; even suspicious activities in and around an aircraft hangar have led to D.E.A. seizure, criminal allegations and hefty storage fees.
by Richard T. Miller, Specialist in Aviation Law – (818) 994-8234