Can A Pilot Be Fired For Reporting Violations Of Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs)?

Can A Pilot Be Fired For Reporting Violations Of Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs)?

Jackson Barnett
Jackson Barnett

Principal Attorney

Pilots, mechanics, dispatchers and flight attendants play a crucial role in air travel safety. They are responsible for operating aircraft in accordance with all relevant federal aviation regulations (FARs) and for ensuring the safety of passengers and crew. As such, it is important that aviation industry employees feel safe and supported in reporting any violations of these regulations that they observe.

One way that pilots report violations is through the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP).

This program allows employees to report safety concerns or violations. The FAA also has a Hotline program for reports of Aviation Safety or FAA Personnel and Facilities, which allows anyone, even if they are not an aviation industry employee, to report safety concerns to the agency directly. Additionally, some employees, particularly mechanics and pilots, prefer to report safety issues to their local Flight Standards District Offices (FSDO).

Employees typically report violations of Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) related to:

  • Potential uncertified operations by pilots, mechanics, repairmen, dispatchers and parachute riggers
  • Noncompliant aircraft maintenance
  • Illegal air charter
  • Aircraft certification and operations

 

The Aftermath Of Reporting Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) Violations
Even when a pilot, mechanic, dispatcher, flight attendant, or other aviation industry employee makes an anonymous report about potential FAR violations being committed by their employer, the employer may still be able to identify the employee who made the report. Once an employer learns of the employee who made the report, the employer may wish to retaliate against the employee, such as terminating the employee. However, some states have made it illegal for the employer.

Why is there no blanket ban on retaliation for reporting potential FAR violations?
Although aircraft operations are regulated by the FAA, a federal agency, an employee’s terms of employment are typically not governed by the FAA. Rather, terms of employment are based on both the employee’s contract with the employer and state law.

An employee’s contract is unlikely to contain any protections for the employee regarding this retaliatory action by the employer, as most employees are at-will employees. At-will employment allows you, the employee or your employer to terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason or no reason.

However, some states have made an exception to this kind of at-will employment arrangement. This exception prohibits an employer from firing an employee who refuses to violate a law – such as an FAR – or reports a violation of a law.

In states this exception applies, a pilot, mechanic, flight attendant or other aviation industry employee will be entitled to compensation if fired for reporting a violation of a FAR.

Compensation can include all or some of the following:

  • Back pay to make up for the time you were out of a job
  • Reinstatement into your job
  • Reinstatement of the employee’s seniority number
  • Additional money to compensate the employee.


If you believe you have been retaliated against for reporting a Federal Aviation Regulations violation, it’s time to Bring Aboard Barnett.

Once you reach out to
Barnett Law Offices to consult with one of our aviation attorneys, we can help clarify the options before you, including whether legal action against your employer for wrongful termination is feasible.

Call us for your consultation today at 1-800-578-5512.