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Old 03-18-2014, 07:24 AM   #1  
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Default Firearm misdemeanor

I have an opportunity to pursue flight school next year in either the U.S. or Europe because I am an LPR of the US and an EU citizen.

In 2010 I received a firearm misdemeanor for possession in Maryland. I was a resident of Georgia where carrying a handgun in a vehicle is not a crime and I inadvertently transported it while driving through Maryland. The records are set to be expunged January 31st, 2015.

Does this background automatically eliminate me from passing an FAA background check? I am unsure if the FAA can even see the records past the dates they are expunged.

Thank you.
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Old 03-18-2014, 10:26 AM   #2  
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They can see it. I cant speak from certainty, but I cant imagine this would block you from flight school or a pilots license as a US citizen. However, in the united states all students require a TSA endorsement. If you are not a US citizen this will need some time to go through TSA for background check. In fact they will finger print you and need few other paperwork items. Full US citizens can recieve a TSA endorsement from a CFI as long as they provide a passport and or birth certificate. No background checks needed.
Do you know what you would fall under? Dual citizens may fall under the more complicated TSA background checks.But i am not certain.
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Old 03-18-2014, 11:43 AM   #3  
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Thank you for the reply. It does provide me some comfort knowing that it may not be a red flag. In fact, if this is true then I could begin the application process before the date when the records are expunged if the FAA will see them in any case.

My status is that I am a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) or a Green Card holder. AOPA has published a guide that details the flight academy application process for non-nationals here.

I suppose it cannot hurt to apply. The worst that can happen is that I am denied a TSA endorsement because of my misdemeanor involving a firearm and that I pursue flight training in the EU instead. It would be preferable to avoid spending time and resources if I knew if the FAA has a zero tolerance policy toward criminal records involving firearm violations albeit that mine amounts to a misdemeanor.
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Old 03-18-2014, 02:50 PM   #4  
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It is likely that expunging this from state/local records will NOT remove from it the FBI database which all airlines reference when determining your eligibility for a SIDA badge.

If you want to work in the US...

1. You need to verify that this history will not prevent you from getting a SIDA badge for ten years. I think that if it's expunged you would be OK.

2. You have a problem. Airlines will be aware of this and will be very hesitant to hire a pilot (or anyone, but especially a pilot) with a history of a firearm violation. I think given the circumstances, nobody will think you're dangerous but rather committed an inadvertent technical violation. If you can make it to the interview and explain this you could probably get hired eventually. But anticipate difficulty getting an interview.

3. The conventional wisdom in this industry is don't lie about anything. When they ask "Have you ever..." that's exactly what they mean. Expunged, adjudicated, sealed, acquitted, etc does not mean it never happened. If they find out later (they often do) you will be 100% fired with very little chance of getting another airline job. Normal HR rules about what they can ask and what info they have access to don't seem to apply to airlines.
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Old 03-20-2014, 07:38 AM   #5  
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That is some good advice, thank you. At this time I am focused on beginning my training toward a CPL and the US market is more affordable. If I am prevented from receiving a SIDA badge in the US or finding work with an American company after I complete the training then I have the option of working in the EU.
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Old 03-20-2014, 07:45 AM   #6  
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No, they can't. The arrest will always be a part of your record but the expunged records do not exist unless you commit a second offense in the same jurisdiction. But, depending upon the state, you may have to go back to court to have it officially reported as dismissed even thought the local court previously expunged the record.
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Old 03-20-2014, 08:29 AM   #7  
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No, they can't. The arrest will always be a part of your record but the expunged records do not exist unless you commit a second offense in the same jurisdiction.
May not work for the FBI database. That is an intelligence/national security resource not just a law enforcement resource. I don't believe they ever delete anything.

It's an unfortunate regulatory quirk that airlines have access to that, and can apparently see information that a normal employer would not. IMO the FAA or TSA should have set policies for determining a pilot's moral fitness and should they make that determination internally, rather than allowing private companies access to the raw data.

Also private background-check companies take "snapshots" of data, and there may not be any law preventing them from keeping it forever to re-sell to employers...even after an event is expunged.

And there's always google...

Bottom line it's hard to say exactly what an airline might turn up, so read the question carefully and answer precisely. Personally I would rather not get hired by airline A but still have a shot at airline B. If you get fired for lying, airline B,C,D, etc are not going to touch you either (mesa might, but you don't want to work there is you can help it).
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Old 03-20-2014, 09:27 AM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickair7777 View Post
May not work for the FBI database. That is an intelligence/national security resource not just a law enforcement resource. I don't believe they ever delete anything.

It's an unfortunate regulatory quirk that airlines have access to that, and can apparently see information that a normal employer would not. IMO the FAA or TSA should have set policies for determining a pilot's moral fitness and should they make that determination internally, rather than allowing private companies access to the raw data...
Nice point, and while pilots suffer the system the way it works now as part of the flying game that does not mean it is necessarily fair. We all know how scary a traffic ticket gone awry makes us feel about job security, how expensive legal defense is, and how that misdemeanor we could not afford to fight when we were a teenager scuttles our chances of getting a better job now. I know of no other industry that paws through a persons past like flying does, which is good perhaps for keeping genuinely rotten people out of the cockpit but is not properly limited in scope or properly adjudicated to prevent invasive searches of the distant or irrelevant past. There should be a "morality check" of some kind the way we have now with the FBI file, but it should be run by a separate agency much the way NASA runs the self disclosure ASRS system. It should have a moving window to limit scope in time, a set of rules and guidelines, adjudication for disputes, and the ability to chase down abuses of the system.

I think we are due for a proverbial pendulum swing in the direction of pilot rights and this would be a key area to look at. Industry may even want such a reform because it could widen the eligible pilot pool by removing irrelevant, stale misdeeds from peoples' past and supply a set of standards for morally-supportable pilot eligibility.
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Old 03-20-2014, 10:36 AM   #9  
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I think we are due for a proverbial pendulum swing in the direction of pilot rights and this would be a key area to look at. Industry may even want such a reform because it could widen the eligible pilot pool by removing irrelevant, stale misdeeds from peoples' past and supply a set of standards for morally-supportable pilot eligibility.
Industry is 100% in control of these standards, they can hire (or not) anyone they like who has a medical and pilot cert..

The FAA almost never grounds a pilot for moral character, only substance-related issues.

The problem is companies take the easy (cheap) way out...where there's enough smoke, they just assume fire and move onto the next applicant rather than try to delve into the details. Admittedly it can be difficult to get to the bottom of many situations...especially since the real bad apples will almost certainly lie and prevaricate.
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Old 03-21-2014, 12:36 AM   #10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sector9 View Post
Thank you for the reply. It does provide me some comfort knowing that it may not be a red flag. In fact, if this is true then I could begin the application process before the date when the records are expunged if the FAA will see them in any case.

My status is that I am a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) or a Green Card holder. AOPA has published a guide that details the flight academy application process for non-nationals here.

I suppose it cannot hurt to apply. The worst that can happen is that I am denied a TSA endorsement because of my misdemeanor involving a firearm and that I pursue flight training in the EU instead. It would be preferable to avoid spending time and resources if I knew if the FAA has a zero tolerance policy toward criminal records involving firearm violations albeit that mine amounts to a misdemeanor.
Be prepared for the TSA approval to take forever...mine did and I had a clean background.

UK Citizen.... US LPR.
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