Pilots bill of rights okayed
The Pilots Bill of Rights was signed into law by the President on Aug. 3 and went into effect immediately.
The bill was introduced at last year's EAA AirVenture, passed the Senate unanimously then was approved by the House by a voice vote.
The bill requires the FAA to provide pilots with timely notice of actions that might affect their license. Pilots may also appeal FAA decisions in federal court if a first appeal to the National Transportation Safety Board fails.
The bill also clarifies what information the FAA must provide pilots when the agency issues orders that deny, amend, modify, suspend or revoke a license.
The agency would also be required to improve its program for notifying pilots of changes or events that could affect their flight plans, such as closed runways.
AOPA wasted no time in commending President Obama for signing the bill.
The pilots organization noted that, in addition to previously mentioned benefits for aviators, the legislation guarantees pilots under investigation by the FAA expanded protection against enforcement actions via access to investigative reports, air traffic control and flight service recordings. It also requires the FAA to provide the evidence being used as the basis of enforcement at least 30 days in advance of action.
The legislation, championed by Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Mark Begich (D-Alas.), co-chair of the Senate General Aviation Caucus, passed the Senate unanimously on June 29. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), co-chair of the House GA Caucus, and GA Caucus member Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) shepherded the measure through the House, which passed on July 23.
"This law is good news for pilots," said AOPA President Craig Fuller. "Having access to all available information, including FAA data, is critical for pilots who find themselves under investigation or whose certificates may be in jeopardy. We are pleased that the President signed this measure and commend Senator Inhofe and all of the bill's supporters for taking action to protect the freedom to fly."
AOPA and the EAA have long supported this bill and its effort to improve communication between GA and the FAA. In addition to improved enforcement measures, the bill will call for an advisory committee to reanalyze the notice to airmen (notam) procedures, as well as a committee to review medical certification.
Pilots will also, for the first time, be able to appeal decisions in federal courts and the National Transportation Safety Board is given greater oversight in reviewing enforcement cases.
As we reported last month, the bill's writer was Sen. Inhofe, a CFI who was ordered by the FAA to take remedial flying lessons after he landed his plane on a closed runway marked with a giant "X." Inhofe said later he didn't see the workers and trucks on the runway until it was too late to safely abort the landing.
The FAA didn't post a notice online warning pilots of the runway closure until days after the incident, he said.
Moral, if you're a government agency, don't try to embarrass a U.S. Senator.
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