Pilots' Bill Of Rights Passes Senate

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Senator James Inhofe, who gained personal experience with FAA enforcement tactics and rules in 2010, is celebrating the passage by the Senate of his Pilots' Bill of Rights. In October 2010, Inhofe landed on a closed runway in Texas that had vehicles and people on it. He received a remedial training order from the FAA. Difficulties he said he experienced while attempting to gather information about the incident led him in 2011 to introduce a bill to protect pilots from "agency overreach." He explained the rationale for the action in a podcast last year. The bill includes protections for pilots who become the subject of FAA enforcement proceedings and also requires the FAA to take actions regarding NOTAMs and the agency's medical certification process.

Regarding NOTAMs, the bill requires that the FAA undertake a NOTAM Improvement Program. That program requires simplification and archival of NOTAMs in a central location. The idea is to ensure pilots can easily acquire the most relevant information through the system. Regarding medicals, the bill requires that the GAO review the FAA's process and forms with the goal of creating greater clarity in the questions and fewer allegations of intentional falsification against pilots. The effort will accept advice from an advisory panel made up of "non-profit general aviation groups." Details about the pilots' bill of rights include requirements that the FAA grant a pilot relevant evidence 30 days before deciding to proceed with an enforcement action. It also allows pilots to seek Federal district court review of appeals from the NTSB. That means pilots can introduce evidence and get "a new review of the facts." The effort earned the support of EAA and AOPA.