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Pilot's Bill of Rights Passes Senate

Unanimous consent moves measure forward

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)

June 29, 2012 - The Pilot's Bill of Rights, first introduced last summer by EAA member and pilot Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), took a major step forward Friday morning when the U.S. Senate passed it via unanimous consent.

The measure (S. 3268), which had 66 co-sponsors, 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. It now goes to the House, where a similar bill has been proposed by Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), who is also an EAA member.

"This is a very important win for GA and protecting aviators' rights," said Rod Hightower, EAA president/CEO. "We especially appreciate the bipartisan support in the Senate for the measure and Sen. Inhofe's dedicated efforts to move this bill forward."

The measure, if signed into law, 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 earlier this month. 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.

"Last year, I introduced this bill and presented it to the general aviation community at Oshkosh," Sen. Inhofe said in a statement. "Thanks to the efforts of so many pilots, and organizations like AOPA and EAA, we were able to get this important bill passed. Over the course of my years in Congress, I have helped an untold number of pilots facing the pressure of dealing with the FAA. This bill remedies many of the most serious deficiencies in the relationship between general aviation and the FAA, and ensures that pilots are, like everyone else, treated in a fair and equitable manner by the justice system."

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

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