President Obama Signs Pilot's Bill of Rights
August 3, 2012 - The nation's aviators received expanded due process protection today as President Obama signed the Pilot's Bill of Rights, which passed Congress last week.
"We are very pleased for all aviators now that the Pilot's Bill of Rights has been signed into law," EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower said. "The legislation safeguards the rights of those who fly and improves information availability in a number of areas. We appreciate all the efforts by those in Congress and elsewhere to make this a reality."
The measure, originally sponsored by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), passed the U.S House of Representatives on July 23, the opening day of EAA AirVenture. EAA and AOPA helped craft the issues that became key provisions of the bill and also gathered bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for the measure.
"It was heavy lifting," Sen. Inhofe said. "It took me a year and half."
The bill languished in the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation during that time without a hearing. The unlikely hero for the measure was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).
"If it hadn't been for Harry Reid, we wouldn't have been able to do it," Inhofe allowed. "He said, 'Inhofe, you've always been fair with me.' And we have a great relationship."
So Sen. Reid agreed to move the bill to the Senate floor under expedited procedures, bypassing the commerce committee.
According to Inhofe, several other officeholders, in addition to Sen. Reid, deserve credit for their support and assistance. Those individuals include Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas).
In the House, Inhofe credits Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Indiana), Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Illinois), Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri), Rep. John Mica (R-Florida), Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wisconsin), Rep. Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia), and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tennessee) for their support and assistance.
"The last holdout in terms of justice, of being guilty until proven innocent, is being hit in some kind of allegation by an examiner of the FAA and then not knowing what you did wrong," Sen. Inhofe said in summing up the need for a Pilot's Bill of Rights.
One portion of the PBOR makes significant changes to the enforcement procedures used against pilots by the FAA. Another portion addresses the medical certification process, while the bill also involves improving how the FAA disseminates the information in notices to airmen-or NOTAMs.