Office of Administrative Law Judges - Processes

​​​​​​​The Ad​ministrative Law Judges conduct formal hearings and issue initial decisions on appeals by airmen filed with the Safety Board. The NTSB serves as the "court of appeals" for any airman, mechanic or mariner whenever certificate action is taken by the Federal Aviation Administration or the U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, or when civil penalties are assessed by the FAA.

​​​​​​​​​The Process​

​​​​​1st Appeal: Appeal to Judge

  • ​Appeal or petition is filed with the NTSB's Office of Administrative Law Judges.
  • Appeal/petition is assigned a docket number and is acknowledged by the office's Case Manager.
  • For appeals from orders of revocation, suspension, or assessment of civil penalty, the FAA files a copy of the order that was issued to the certificate holder/respondent with a letter that designates the order as the FAA's complaint.
  • The certificate holder/respondent then must file an answer admitting or denying each of the factual allegations stated in the complaint.
  • In all cases, including reviews of certificate denials, requests for discovery of information can be filed by both the FAA and the certificate holder/respondent or petitioner seeking review of certificate denial.
  • A hearing is set by the judge assigned to the case at an appropriate place (see 49 C.F.R. Section 821.37).
  • The hearing is held. An Initial Decision, affirming, reversing or modifying the FAA's action is issued by the judge.

​2nd Appeal: Appeal to the Full Board

  • ​​​An appeal from the judge's decision is filed with the Office of Administrative Law Judges, which sends the appeal and case record/docket to the Board's Office of General Counsel.
  • An appeal brief is filed by the appealing party.
  • A reply brief is filed by opposing party.
  • The Board issues an order affirming, modifying, or reversing the judge's decision, or remanding the case to the judge for further proceedings.
  • If the Board affirms the FAA's revocation, suspension, or civil penalty assessment, and the certificate holder intends to appeal the Board's decision to the U.S. District Court or the U.S. Court of Appeals, a stay of the Board's order may be requested.

​3rd Appeal: Petition to U.S. District Court or U.S. Court of Appeals

  • ​The party appealing the Board's decision files a petition in either the U.S. District Court (D.C. District, district in which the party resides, or district which the action in question occurred) or the U.S. Court of Appeals (D.C. Circuit or circuit in which the party resides).
  • The Board prepares a Certificate of Record to be filed with the court.