Senator James Inhofe (R.- Okla.) introduced legislation on Wednesday mandating changes to the FAA’s enforcement process to make it “more fair to pilots” who are often left in the dark as to what they are being investigated for and the nature of the evidence against them.
Last year Inhofe had an enforcement action leveled against him after he landed his Cessna 340 on a closed runway with workers nearby. According to Inhofe, the notam for the closed runway had never been filed and he was required to respond to the allegation before he had been able to obtain the evidence the FAA had in the case.
The bill, said Inhofe in a speech in the Senate on Tuesday, would do four things:
1. It would require the FAA to inform a pilot of the nature of the action and to provide the pilot with the evidence, including ATC recordings, at least 30 days before proceedings.
2. It would require the NTSB to stop rubber stamping appeals that pilots make to the board over FAA penalties against them. Currently, Inhofe said, a small fraction of the appeals result in the Board overturning the FAA’s findings.
3. It would create an advisory board to work with the FAA to help make the FAA’s dissemination of notams more reliable. Currently, the pilot, Inhofe said, is responsible for knowing notam information even if the FAA had not disseminated it, as was the case, the senator said, with his closed-runway landing in Texas last year.
4. Finally, the bill would create an advisory board to help the FAA establish more clear and easily interpretable medical certification standards and procedures, something that Inhofe said leads to enforcement actions against many pilots today.