In early July, the U.S. Senate introduced legislation, co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 23 senators, that will act as a bill of rights for pilots. The measure seeks to establish due process rights for pilots undergoing FAA enforcement actions and a clearer set of procedures for NOTAMs and medical certification.
The bill is based largely on the work of the EAA and AOPA in compiling background data and seeking co-sponsors. According to EAA President and CEO Rod Hightower, “EAA supports any legislative actions that enhance pilots’ opportunities for legal due process in FAA enforcement cases.”
The legislation as introduced includes several new protections for pilots and seeks to simplify two areas of much consternation among pilots, medical certification and NOTAMs by establishing centralized archives of simplified NOTAMs, archiving flight service station communications and instituting a thorough review of the medical certification process and forms. Under the bill, the FAA would be required to provide the pilot with all relevant evidence 30 days before the decision for the enforcement action to proceed. It would also further clarify the roles of the NTSB and federal district courts in appeals.
The entire text of the bill is available on Senator Inhofe’s website (http://inhofe.senate.gov/public/) and the senator will host a forum on the bill at EAA AirVenture on Saturday, July 30, in Forum Pavilion 11.
This initiative is important for pilots of any level because one simple mistake is all it takes to get on the FAAs bad side. This is not to say that they are out to get you, but the protections included in this bill will go a long way toward providing a clear path of appeal in the unlikely event of an enforcement action. The added benefits of simplified NOTAMs and medical certification paperwork will really help protect pilots as these two areas are some of the most problematic.