A bill introduced by Senator James Inhofe, who in October 2010 landed on a closed runway, scattering workers, will now allow pilots easier access to evidence against them if faced with disciplinary action by the FAA -- if President Obama signs it. The bill has passed both the House and Senate and awaits the president's attention and official signature. "If a person is going to be accused of something," Inhofe told the Washington Post, "he has to know what he's being accused of." In Inhofe's case, the accusation may have seemed clear to the workers who said they watched the Senator's Cessna 340 as it "hopscotched" over them while landing. But Inhofe, who ultimately received a remedial training order from the FAA, found flaws in the system. AOPA, EAA, and Harrison Ford (the actor is a pilot and general aviation advocate) stand behind the bill.
AOPA President Craig Fuller called Inhofe's decision to introduce the legislation "bold" at a time that general aviation "seemed to be under attack in Washington." That and the bill's progress through Congress were "powerful testaments to Inhofe's commitment to protecting the freedom to fly," Fuller said. "We applaud Sen. Inhofe's ongoing work on behalf of general aviation." EAA's Rod Hightower called the bill's progress "a very important win for GA and protecting aviators' rights." Hightower noted his appreciation for the bipartisan support the Senate managed in passing the bill. Two years ago, the workers who fled Inhofe's plane had this to say: (Click to listen (MP3)). Inhofe later told his story to AVweb; (click to listen). Details in the bill include improvements to the NOTAM system. It also 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.