Pilots' Bill of Rights Gets Senate Thumbs Up

Legislation strengthens pilot safeguards.

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Capital

The Senate on Friday unanimously passed the Pilots' Bill of Rights first introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) last summer, granting what the senator called "a big victory for general aviation pilots all across the country."

The new legislation includes a number of provisions aimed at bolstering safeguards for pilots, including one that requires the FAA to grant pilots under investigation access to all evidence against them and one that allows pilots to fight enforcement actions in federal court.

The bill also requires that the FAA initiate a Notam improvement program aimed at streamlining and simplifying the current system, and also mandates that the Government Accountability Office review the FAA’s current medical certification process.

Leadership at several pilot advocacy groups, including AOPA and EAA, spoke out in praise of the bill, which was cosponsored by 65 senators and received the lobbying support of pilot and actor Harrison Ford.

Senator Inhofe introduced the bill in mid 2011 following an October 2010 incident in which he landed his Cessna 340 on a closed runway at Port Isabel-Cameron County Airport in Texas. There were large Xs as well as individuals on the runway at the time of the landing, which resulted in an FAA enforcement action. Inhofe was also investigated for taking off from a taxiway a few days later.