Sen. Inhofe Calls for Improved Protections for Pilots

The Fairness for Pilots Act would “enhance” the current Pilot’s Bill of Rights.

Jim Inhofe fairness for pilots
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), pictured at the Farnborough Air Show in 2016, seeks to “enhance” the current Pilot’s Bill of Rights with the Fairness for Pilots Act.Jim Inhofe

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said yesterday there’s more work to be done to improve his 2012 Pilot’s Bill of Rights. The senior senator from Oklahoma, a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, the Senate General Aviation Caucus and a certified flight instructor, on Wednesday introduced S.755, the Fairness for Pilots Act, created to improve protections for GA pilots provided in the Pilot’s Bill of Rights.

“The Pilot’s Bill of Rights and the implementation of third-class medical reform have been great victories for the general aviation community,” Inhofe said. “Building on my past efforts, the Fairness for Pilots Act increases due process protections for pilots, ensures greater transparency in dealing with the FAA, and reduces the unnecessary bureaucratic barriers preventing pilots from flying.”

If the legislation becomes law, it is expected to enhance the due process rights established in the earlier bills ensuring airmen can appeal an FAA decision through a new, merit-based trial in federal court. It will also increase transparency for airmen subject to an investigation or enforcement action by requiring the agency to articulate the specific activity under investigation to parties involved and provide specific documentation relevant to its investigation.

The legislation will, according to Inhofe, “expedite updates to the Notam Improvement Program required in the first PBR, directing the FAA to include in Notams the effective duration of temporary flight restrictions. This will ensure the most relevant and important information reaches the pilot prior departure, while also mandating the FAA certify the accuracy of posted Notams.”

Finally, the Senator sees the FPA “ensuring the accessibility of flight data, such as air traffic communication tapes and radar information produced by contract towers, and flight service stations and controller training programs, which gives airmen the ability to defend themselves during an enforcement action proceeding.”

Inhofe’s legislation was quickly backed by the top industry groups. AOPA president Mark Baker said the association “supports the Fairness for Pilots Act and urges the Senate to approve this important legislation which will expand on Sen. Inhofe’s original Pilot’s Bill of Rights and provide additional protections so we can continue to enjoy the freedom to fly.”

"We greatly appreciate Sen. Inhofe's efforts on behalf of general aviation pilots with the introduction of the Fairness for Pilots Act,” said Jack Pelton, chairman and CEO of the Experimental Aircraft Association. “Today, more than ever, it's essential to recognize and preserve the rights of individuals who seek to pursue the freedom of flight.”

National Business Aviation Association president and CEO Ed Bolen said the organization “commends Sen. Inhofe for advancing this important legislation. The reforms contained in the bill will promote fairness, while reducing costs and helping preserve and foster general aviation in America."