Inhofe Introduces "Pilot's Bill Of Rights"

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Senator James Inhofe, who last October landed on a closed runway that had vehicles and people on it for which he received a remedial training order from the FAA, Wednesday introduced a bill to protect pilots from "agency overreach." Inhofe's remedial training was supplied by an instructor who he'd once taught. The bill would address items ranging from medical certification issues to Inhofe's concern that he waited four months to get voice recordings related to his episode. "I was never fully appreciative," said Inhofe, "of the feeling of desperation until it happened to me." Recordings of the manager whose workers were on the runway as Inhofe landed suggest they also might have felt desperation, but of a different sort. EAA and AOPA are among supporters of Inhofe's bill. 

AOPA president Craig Fuller said his group "applauds Senator Inhofe" for introducing the legislation and "giving the aviation community much greater certainty about the process of enforcing the regulations by which we fly." Fuller added, "We look forward to working with Senator Inhofe" in support of the bill. EAA president Rod Hightower said, "This bill addresses several inequalities that hamper the ability of aviators to even obtain the necessary information to defend themselves." EAA added its gratitude to the 24 senators who stood in support of the bill. Said Hightower, EAA "is strongly supportive" of the bill "and urges its members to rally behind the measure."

The bill requires relevant evidence to be supplied to a pilot 30 days prior to a decision to proceed with an enforcement action. It clarifies "statutory deference" as it relates to NTSB reviews of FAA actions. It "allows for federal district court review of appeals from the FAA, at the election of the appellant." It requires the FAA to improve how NOTAMs are provided with a goal of ensuring that relevant information reaches pilots. It makes privately operated flight service station communications accessible through freedom of information requests. And it requires a review of the FAA's medical certification process with an aim to cut down on misinterpretations that could lead to allegations of falsification.