Podcast: Inhofe — Broad Political Support for Pilot's Bill of Rights
File Size 7.6 MB / Running Time 16:31
Sen. James Inhofe told AVweb this week that his recently introduced bill to give pilots a fairer shake when confronted with an FAA enforcement action is already enjoying wide support in the U.S. Senate, with some 25 co-sponsors and the possibility of more. (See the full list of co-sponsors at right.) Moreover, says Inhofe, on the House side, aviation caucus chairman Sam Graves may also consider a House version of the bill — although he hasn't done so yet, according to spokesman Jason Klindt.
In this detailed podcast, Inhofe explained that not only will his bill give pilots access to more information sooner when faced with an FAA enforcement case, but it will also require the FAA to investigate the NOTAMs system and to consider recommendations from an advisory panel consisting of pilots and airspace users. Inhofe told us that a significant complaint in enforcement appeals is that the NTSB follows procedural deference and rarely overturns an FAA decision. His bill, if passed, would allow a pilot to file an appeal directly with a district court, bypassing the NTSB.
Although Inhofe told us his own recent enforcement case didn't prompt his bill, he says he learned from the experience. Recall that last fall Inhofe landed his Cessna 340 on a closed runway in Port Isabel, Texas, prompting angry complaints from a work crew doing repairs on the runway. Following the incident, Inhofe was quoted as saying that "no one checks NOTAMS," but he now insists that he did check prior to the flight and that no NOTAM for the closed runway was in the system. When asked about the closed runway marking and the presence of clearly visible work crews, Inhofe said when we realized the crews were on the runway, he was already committed to land and couldn't execute a go-around. In lieu of certificate suspension, Inhofe was directed by the FAA to undergo additional training.