Flight operationsFlight operations oversightInvestigation procedures

Investigation procedures

To investigate an aviation violation, the background of the case must be carefully
examined. Information about the case is sought from many different sources. The person
concerned is also given an opportunity to be heard as required by law.

Commencement of an investigation

Investigation of an aviation violation may be initiated for many different reasons. For example, findings made during an inspection or notifications from private persons, air traffic control, other authorities or aviators may result in an investigation.

Various units of the Finnish Civil Aviation Authority continuously oversee aviation operations both regularly and on a case-by-case basis. Information resulting in an investigation may come out during a routine inspection. The Finnish Civil Aviation Authority also receives reports on violations against regulations from general public and from other authorities. Private persons usually report infringements of minimum flight altitudes, and other authorities give notifications on flying within restricted or danger areas. Moreover, occurrence reports from air traffic control or police investigation material related to aviation accidents may reveal issues that give rise to an investigation on whether aviation regulations have been violated. Quite often an investigation is started on the basis of information received from many different sources.

Obtaining evidence

After an investigation has been commenced, the Finnsih Civil Aviation Authority seeks to obtain as much information on the case as possible. The material used to determine the course of events may be rather varied: flight logs and journey log books, flight plans, licence and aircraft register data, flight progress strips from ATC, weather information, mass and fuel calculations, equipment manuals, reports from persons and organisations associated with the events etc. The person who is suspected of having violated against aviation regulations is also asked to give an explanation on the issue, reporting what happened and why. The time limit for providing an explanation is usually about two weeks.

Hearing of the person concerned

The Administrative Procedure Act (pdf, 434/2003) requires that the person concerned must be heard before making a decision which may affect the person’s rights, interests and obligations. The hearing letter states those items of regulations that the person is suspected of having violated, explains the sanctions that may be imposed and provides him/her an opportunity to present any issues that should be considered before the decision is made. The person concerned then responds by a similar letter as to the request for explanation, within a fixed time. However, the authority may decide on the issue even without a reply, after the time limit has expired. The documents concerning the hearing are delivered by mail with an advice of receipt. When collecting the documents, the recipient must prove his/her identity. The post office will inform the Finnsih Civil Aviation Authority when the letter has been collected.

As a general rule, replies to the requests for explanation and hearing letters must be sent to the Finnsih Civil Aviation Authority as a signed paper copy. However, in some cases explanations given on the telephone are considered sufficient, and e-mail messages have also been accepted.