Forever Hold Your Peace: The Advantages of Silence

DyerMattProfessional-768x960An admission, by its very nature, carries an enormous amount of credibility and weight, with investigators, as well as FAA attorneys, and administrative judges  in later proceedings. Admissions are as close to silver bullets as legal evidence gets because they can carry multiple elements of the offense or violation the authority needs to prove.

Matthew Dyer is an attorney with Furey, Donovan, Tracy & Daly, P.C. in Bristol, CT. He primarily focuses on criminal law matters and counsels members of AOPA’s Legal Services Plan on a variety of FAA Enforcement, accident, and tax matters. Matthew is also a private pilot working on his instrument rating.

It’s a pilot’s worst nightmare—

a loss of control anda damaged plane. Worse, damaged people:friends, family, business associates. Adrenalinerushes, fear and guilt set in, and we turn to thenearest authority figure to re-establish orderamidst the chaos. Depending on the size, natureand damage caused in and by the accident, theseauthority figures even seek us out. And as thosekind individuals from the FAA approach, ourinstincts to speak tend to take over. But, just aswhen we are behind the yoke, our instinct can be,and often is, wrong.

49 C.F.R. 830.2 and 830.5 require reporting accidents and serious incidents to the NTSB. Reporting To the FAA in the context of manned aircraft accidents or incidents, however, is never required unless that pilot has deviated from the rules during an in-flight emergency and the FAA specifically requests a written report under 14 C.F.R. 91.3.  Certain Unmanned Aircraft Systems accidents are reportable to the FAA under § 107.9.