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Inhofe Introduces Bill to Revitalize Aviation
Legislation supports aviation events and addresses pilot shortage
By Megan Esau, EAA Assistant Editor
July 25, 2018 - Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) introduced a new bill on Wednesday, the Security and Revitalizing Aviation (SARA) Act of 2018, to make general aviation more accessible and sustainable and to enhance protections for pilots.
In addressing the pilot shortage in the U.S., the SARA Act lays out a number of initiatives to help revitalize the future of general aviation.
A proposed Aircraft Pilot Education Program would make aviation careers more accessible through enabling high school students to take ground school classes and encouraging the development and sharing of an aviation curriculum.
Reforms for designated pilot examiners (DPEs), including allowing more daily checkrides and removing arbitrary geographic boundaries, would also help maintain an appropriate number of DPEs to facilitate growth of the pilot population.
The bill includes number of protections for pilots as well, such as ensuring continued due process to pilots and extending it to FAA designees, and protecting volunteer pilots from liability as long as they follow appropriate procedures.
“We greatly appreciate Sen. Inhofe bringing this legislation forward and Congress for recognizing the urgency to maintain America’s leadership in the aviation community through this bill,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA CEO and Chairman of the Board. “As EAA uses its own programs to inspire and encourage the next generation of pilots, the support of our congressional leadership will help focus on the needs and opportunities in the aviation world.”
Among the bill’s provisions is also an important measure that would require the FAA to provide air traffic control services for aviation events, such as EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and the SUN ’n FUN International Fly-In & Expo, absent of fees.
This would be a big win for EAA, which in recent years has been working hard to include language in aviation legislation that would remove fees for such services at aviation events.
Allowing for ATC fees sets a dangerous precedent for the introduction of user fees, which would have a harmful effect on general aviation fliers.