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Pilot’s Bill of Rights Clears Major Hurdle in Senate, Still More Work to be Done
September 18, 2015 - With the addition of three more cosponsors, Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 (PBOR2) has reached a significant legislative milestone in the Senate. PBOR2 now has 61 cosponsors and the support it needs to clear some, but not all procedural hurdles that could prevent it from being brought up for a vote.
Though PBOR2 has the support of over 60 senators, the path to a vote on the bill is not yet clear. EAA government advocacy staff will be working over the coming weeks to continue to gather support as well as work with Senate leadership to find the best path forward for the bill in a packed legislative schedule.
Since its introduction in February by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), PBOR2 has made significant strides while facing numerous challenges. Despite overwhelming support, the bill still needs every additional cosponsor it can garner. We thank our dedicated members for their unyielding support and patience through this process. We have come very far in the past few months and now is not the time to let up. If your senator has not yet signed on to PBOR2 as a cosponsor, we encourage you to urge them to do so.
The announcement from Senator Inhofe’s office is below:
INHOFE ANNOUNCES PILOT’S BILL OF RIGHTS 2 SUPPORT SURPASSES 60 COSPONSORS
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), member of the Senate General Aviation Caucus, today announced his Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 (S.571) has surpassed 60 cosponsors in the Senate and continues to garner support from outside organizations.
On Feb. 26, Inhofe introduced the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, legislation that would expand the 3rd class medical exemption for recreational pilots and broaden the protections provided in the original Pilot’s Bill of Rights authored by Inhofe and signed into law in 2012. At the time of this release, S.571 had 61 cosponsors, surpassing a filibuster-proof majority on Thursday when Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) signed on to the legislation.
“I appreciate the significant bipartisan support for the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, and I am committed to seeing this legislation to the finish line during the 114th Congress,” said Inhofe. “The Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 was authored by and for the general aviation community, and it is their persistency with their elected officials that has resulted in more than a majority of the Senate supporting this legislation. Together, we have been able to build off the success of the original Pilot’s Bill of Rights, and this second edition will continue to improve and streamline the antiquated regulatory system faced by GA pilots and industry alike.
The 61 cosponsors include: U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), David Cassidy (R-La.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Thad Cochran (R- Miss.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jeff Flake (R-Ari.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Heidi Heitkamp (D-Mont.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Angus King (I-Maine), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.), John McCain (R-Ari.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Jeanne Shaheen (R-N.H.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), David Vitter (R-La.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
During Senate consideration of the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act (H.R. 22), Sen. Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) introduced the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 as amendment to the legislation. During this time, the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 garnered new support from 12 aviation organizations:
“General aviation has been losing an average of 6,000 pilots per year over the past 10 years, and this critically important amendment includes provisions that will allow general aviation to grow and prosper while affording important protections to pilots and aircraft operators.”
The Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 has also received the following additional statements of support since its introduction:
“On behalf of the 2,700-plus pilots represented by the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP), I write today to express our support for your legislation, the Pilots Bill of Rights 2 (PBR2). As co-chairs of the Congressional Pilots Caucus, you continue to keep issues that affect professional and recreational pilots at the forefront of the Congressional consciousness. Your work on PBR2, which is highlighted by efforts to extend the due process rights of all certificate holders facing FAA investigation or enforcement action as well as enhancing the Notice to Airmen Improvement Program, is a perfect example of your proactive leadership on behalf of the pilot community,” said Pedro Leroux, president of the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP).
“We sincerely appreciate Sen. Inhofe for his support of our nation’s professional pilots. Our career security is vulnerable to a wide range of factors frequently beyond our control. This bill would provide necessary balance to administrative proceedings and other venues in which pilots face potential certificate denial, suspension or revocation,” said Capt. Keith Wilson, president of the Allied Pilots Association.
“Time and again, Sen. Inhofe has served as a tireless advocate for professional pilots. He understands the unique challenges that pilots face, with S.571 providing yet another example of his thoughtful pragmatism. We urge Sen. Inhofe’s fellow lawmakers to approve this legislation promptly,” said Capt. Paul Jackson, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association.
Details about the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2:
- Reforms FAA’s overly burdensome medical certification process by expanding an existing FAA medical standard to include more qualified, trained pilots.
- Extends the due process rights preserved in the first PBOR to individual FAA certificate holders, and enhances those rights by ensuring certificate holders have the right to appeal a FAA decision through a new, merit-based trial in Federal Court.
- Increases transparency for all FAA certificate holders subject to an investigation or enforcement action by holding FAA accountable for communicating with certificate holders. FAA is required to articulate a specific description of the incident or incidents under investigation to parties involved in the investigation, and provide specific documentation relevant to its investigation.
- Expedites updates to the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) Improvement Program required in the first Pilot’s Bill of Rights and directs FAA to include the effective duration of temporary flight restrictions. This ensures the most relevant and important information reaches the pilot. The legislation also mandates that FAA certify the accuracy of posted NOTAMs.
- Ensures the accessibility of flight data such as air traffic communication tapes and radar information produced by contract towers, flight service stations and controller training programs, giving certificate holders the ability to use this information to defend themselves during an enforcement action proceeding.
- Extends liability protection to individuals designated by FAA, such as aviation medical examiners, pilot examiners or designated airworthiness representatives. This provision provides the protections enjoyed by federal employees to individuals performing a uniquely federal function, ensuring everyone has access to medical professionals and designees to sign off on check rides and the flightworthiness of experimental aircraft.
- Acts as a Good Samaritan Law for volunteer aviation pilots, protecting pilots from liability as long as they are following appropriate procedures. This is an important consideration for non-profit organizations dependent on volunteers that provide non-cost transportation for the public benefit.