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Pilot's Bill of Rights Action in U.S. Senate

Sen. James Inhofe, EAA member, leading effort to advance bill

June 15, 2012 - Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), a longtime EAA member and GA pilot, is continuing his efforts to bring his "Pilot's Bill of Rights" legislation to a floor vote of the full U.S. Senate. The measure, if passed, would provide pilots with expanded due process rights in case of FAA enforcement actions, as well as clarify NOTAM and medical certification procedures for general aviation.

Sen. Inhofe worked in a bipartisan manner with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) to reintroduce the bill (S.3268) with the support of 66 co-sponsors last week. The move enabled the bill to bypass a single point of opposition on the Commerce committee and be placed on the Senate's calendar for a vote, using the Senate unanimous consent procedure. Although objections from Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) blocked the unanimous consent effort, Sen. Inhofe continues to work with Sen. Reid to end debate and bring the bill to the full Senate for a vote. Sixty votes would be required to pass the bill.

EAA members are encouraged to thank their Senators who co-sponsored the bill for their support and urge them not to accept any amendments to the bill that could prevent a successful outcome.

The bipartisan bill was first introduced last July. Its language includes:

  1. Requires that in an FAA enforcement action, the FAA must grant the pilot all relevant evidence 30 days prior to a decision to proceed with an enforcement action.
  2. Clarifies statutory deference as it relates to National Transportation Safety Board reviews of FAA actions that diminish the appeals process.
  3. Introduces an option for federal district court review of appeals from the FAA.
  4. Requires a NOTAM Improvement Program, requiring simplification and centralized archiving of NOTAMs.
  5. Makes flight service station communications archives available to all pilots.
  6. Reviews the FAA's medical certification process and forms.

EAA and AOPA helped compile the legal issues and enforcement procedure background that led to the text in the bill last summer, and also helped seek co-sponsors of this important protection of pilot's rights.

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