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Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 – Medical Reform is Just the Start

March 11, 2015 – While aeromedical reform has been the most visible segment of the bipartisan Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 introduced in both houses of Congress late last month, plenty of other provisions provide major steps forward for the GA community. EAA had a major role in drafting these provisions, based on the feedback of our members and the organization’s advocacy efforts over the past decade.

“The aeromedical provisions of the legislation are certainly the highest priority for EAA and our members and helped it rapidly gain more than 16,000 letters of support through EAA’s Rally Congress website alone, but there’s much more in this bill for aviators,” said Doug Macnair, EAA’s vice president of government relations. “Items that have been long-standing frustrations for EAA members are addressed, making it one of the most comprehensive bills in support of general aviation in the past 20 years.” 

Among the other major provisions of the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 are:

Expands the protections of the original Pilot’s Bill of Rights to all FAA certificate holders. That means if you have an A&P or other FAA certificate, you have the same opportunity to appeal an FAA investigation issue directly to a federal district court. The FAA must also state the specific incident on which enforcement proceedings are based, provided a copy of the Enforcement Investigative Report to a covered certificate holder, and limit

 the scope of document requests to the pertinent issues being investigated, among other protections. These requirements are designed to ensure that the airman has all the information being used by the FAA in an enforcement case and thus be able to better provide an informed defense.

Limits re-examination of covered certificate holders. In other words, the FAA cannot reopen a completed investigation unless there is clear evidence of wrongdoing or unsafe behavior. The agency must also provide details as to why such a re-examination is necessary. This provision limits circumstances of double jeopardy where an airman could be in effect penalized twice for the same infraction or error.

Expedites NOTAM updates. The legislation requires NOTAMs to be maintained in a public, internet-searchable location and also requires that temporary flight restrictions be included in the NOTAM program. It will prevent enforcement action if the NOTAM is not included in the database and establishes a rating system prioritizing NOTAMs according to timeliness, importance and criticality. NOTAM availability and prioritization are crucial to ensuring that pilots have the most important and accurate information available at the time of flight.

Extends liability protection. Civil liability protection similar to that afforded to government employees would be available for all FAA designees performing duties on behalf of the agency including aviation medical examiners, designated airworthiness representatives, pilot examiners, and others. It would also provide liability protection for volunteer pilots who fly for the public benefit. Personal liability risk has a chilling effect on the willingness of individuals to serve as designees and thus, the availability of critical engineering, airworthiness, and examining resources to support general aviation operations.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) applies to contract towers. The bill requires that flight data maintained by contract towers and other FAA contractors usable in a certificate enforcement case can be subject to FOIA requests, with an exception for aviation safety action reports. Airmen need access to all of the information being used by the FAA in an enforcement case and there should be no distinction in the availability of tower tapes and other information between an FAA control tower and a contract tower or flight service facility.

“EAA spent an enormous amount of time to craft and ensure that these provisions were part of the final bill,” Macnair said. “This is an excellent piece of legislation and we encourage EAA members to urge their own congressional representatives to support it, and spread the word to other aviators to do the same.”

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