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GA-Friendly Amendments Offered to Senate FAA Bill

Volunteer pilots, through the fence, vintage aircraft data

February 10, 2011 — Several amendments worthy of support from aviation enthusiasts have been offered to the Senate FAA reauthorization bill S. 223 including measures to protect volunteer pilots, authorization for through-the-fence agreements, and release of abandoned type certificate and STC data. EAA encourages members to contact their U.S. Senators to urge their support of these GA-friendly amendments.

Protecting volunteer pilots
An amendment offered by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a pilot with more than 10,000 flight hours and a member of the Senate General Aviation Caucus, would give liability protection for nonprofit, charitable volunteer pilot organizations that provide free transportation to people in need of specialized medical treatment.

“Volunteer pilots … step in when commercial air service is not available for middle-of-the-night organ transplant patient flights, disaster response missions evacuating special needs patients, and transport of blood or blood products in emergencies,” Inhofe said.

Inhofe’s amendment aims to close the loophole in the law that subjects pilots and the charitable organizations for which they fly to “frivolous, costly lawsuits,” Inhofe said. The amendment also provides liability protection for individual volunteer pilots over and above the liability insurance that they are currently required to carry, as well as liability protection for the referring agencies who inform their patients of charitable flight services.

“Although volunteer pilots are required to carry liability insurance, if they have an accident, the injured party can sue for any amount of money, and if that amount is higher than the liability limit on a pilot’s insurance, then the pilot is at risk of losing their personal investments, home, business, and other assets, potentially bringing them financial ruin.”

Through the Fence Authorization
Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) offered this amendment [link to Wyden Amendment.pdf] to allow the creation of through-the-fence agreements at GA airports based on local airport sponsor authorization. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the House GA Caucus, and Tom Petri (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, are working to include the same language in the House’s FAA Authorization bill.

Vintage aircraft data availability
The vintage aircraft data release legislation EAA has worked on is included in the Senate bill, and is also planned to be included in the House version. This language would authorize the FAA administrator to make available upon request engineering data for aircraft, engine, propeller, or appliance, to a person seeking to maintain the airworthiness of an aircraft. Even if the owner of record does not consent, the Administrator can release the data when determining that:

 (i) the certificate containing the requested data has been inactive for 3 or more years;
(ii) after using due diligence, the Administrator is unable to find the owner of record, or the owner of record’s heir, of the type certificate or supplemental certificate; and
(iii) making such data available will enhance aviation safety.

To ensure aircraft data remains available, the House version will add, “The administrator shall maintain engineering data in the possession of the administration relating to a type certificate or a supplemental type certificate that has been inactive for three or more years.”
Contact information for the U.S. Senate is available here.

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