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Pilot's Bill of Rights Gains 60th Co-Sponsor

Happy birthday, Sen. Inhofe

Inhofe
Senator James Inhofe with his son James II and grandson James III, pictured with the senatorís RV-8 during their visit to AirVenture 2009.

November 18, 2011 – On Thursday, November 18, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) got perhaps the best present he could ask for on his 77th birthday: His Pilot’s Bill of Rights (S.1335) legislation acquired its 60th co-sponsor, which makes it filibuster-proof in the Senate. The milestone legislation, currently in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, would end “guilty-until-proven-innocent” approach by the FAA, improve the NOTAM system, correct the pilot medical certification process, and more.

“This is quite a birthday present,” said Inhofe, EAA 179992, a private pilot with more than 10,000 flight hours. “The support this bill has received, including a majority of the members of the Senate Commerce Committee, is indicative of the common sense approach to correcting problems faced by general aviation pilots.

“I look forward to this being taken up and passed in the Senate in the near future.”

According to Inhofe’s office, here are the Pilot’s Bill of Rights details:

  • Requires that in an FAA enforcement action against a pilot, the FAA must grant the pilot all relevant evidence 30 days prior to a decision to proceed with an enforcement action. This is currently not done and often leaves the pilot grossly uninformed of his violation and recourse.
  • Clarifies statutory deference as it relates to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reviews of FAA actions. Too often the NTSB rubber stamps an FAA decision, giving the FAA wide latitude and making the appeals process meaningless.
  • Allows for federal district court review of appeals from the FAA, at the election of the appellant.
  • Requires that the FAA undertake a notice to airmen (NOTAM) improvement program, requiring they be simplified as well as archived in a central location. Non-profit general aviation groups will make up an advisory panel.
  • Makes flight service station communications available to all airmen. Currently, the FAA contracts with Lockheed Martin to run its flight service stations. If a request is made for flight service station briefings or other flight service information under FOIA, it is denied to the requestor because Lockheed Martin is not the government, per se. However, it is performing an inherently governmental function and this information should be available to pilots who need it to defend themselves in an enforcement proceeding.
  • The bill requires a review of the FAA’s medical certification process and forms, to provide greater clarity in the questions and reduce the instances of misinterpretation that have, in the past, led to allegations of intentional falsification against pilots. Non-profit general aviation groups will make up an advisory panel. 

Co-sponsors of the Pilot’s Bill of Rights include:
Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
John Barrasso (R-WY)
Mark Begich (D-AK)
Roy Blunt (R-MO)
John Boozman (R-AR)
Richard Burr (R-NC)
Thomas Carper (D-DE)
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Dan Coats (R-IN)
Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Bob Corker (R-TN)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Kay Hagan (D-NC)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Dean Heller (R-NV.)
John Hoeven (R-ND)
Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Ron Johnson (R-WI)
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Mike Lee (R-UT)
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Joe Manchin (D- WV)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Benjamin Nelson (D-NE)
Rand Paul (R-KY)
Rob Portman (R-OH)
Mark Pryor (D-AR)
James Risch (R-ID)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Jon Tester (D-MT.)
John Thune (R-SD)
Pat Toomey (R-PA)
Mark Udall (D-CO)
David Vitter (R-LA)
Mark Warner (D-VA)
Roger Wicker (R-MS)

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