October 20, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. - During a General Aviation Caucus forum on Capitol Hill earlier this week, actor and pilot Harrison Ford endorsed General Aviation legislation by U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) known as S. 1335, the Pilot’s Bill of Rights. The endorsement followed comments by Inhofe that outlined details about the legislation and how many co-sponsors the bill currently has in the Senate. Inhofe is a member of the Senate General Aviation Caucus and a certified flight instructor with more than 10,000 flight hours.
“I appreciated the opportunity to speak with Harrison Ford and other Senators interested in General Aviation about my bill,” said Inhofe of the meeting. “I have been in Harrison’s audience for so many years, it is hard to believe that he was in mine. The bill currently has 43 co-sponsors in the Senate, so we only need seventeen more to reach that 60 vote threshold. With the help of Harrison Ford and so many others, I am confident we will get this done. I really appreciate his support for my legislation.”
“I’m grateful [for the Pilot’s Bill of Rights],” Ford said. “It seems [like] a real justice issue that the behavior of the FAA should match the standard that we face everywhere else for justice. It’s the one area of our lives where it’s not. You are guilty until you prove yourself innocent, and that must not be the case. So, I support fully that. So, thank you. God speed.”
Video of Harrison Ford’s comments can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hce9QHtwz10
The full video can be found on the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) website: http://www.aopa.org/aopalive/
Pictures of the forum with Harrison Ford can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/3wbwsgl
Details about the Pilot’s Bill of Rights
Ø Requires that in an FAA enforcement action against a pilot, the FAA must grant the pilot all relevant evidence 30 days prior to a decision to proceed with an enforcement action. This is currently not done and often leaves the pilot grossly uninformed of his violation and recourse.
Ø Clarifies statutory deference as it relates to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reviews of FAA actions. Too often the NTSB rubber stamps a decision of the FAA, giving wide latitude to the FAA and making the appeals process meaningless.
Ø Allows for federal district court review of appeals from the FAA, at the election of the appellant.
Ø Requires the FAA undertake a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) Improvement Program, requiring simplification and archival of NOTAMs in a central location. The process by which NOTAMs are provided by the FAA has long needed revision. This will ensure that the most relevant information reaches the pilot. Currently, FAA makes pilots responsible for knowledge of pre-flight conditions. Non-profit general aviation groups will make up an advisory panel.
Ø Makes flight service station communications available to all airmen. Currently, the FAA contracts with Lockheed Martin to run its flight service stations. If a request is made for flight service station briefings or other flight service information under FOIA, it is denied to the requestor because Lockheed Martin is not the government, per se. However, they are performing an inherently governmental function and this information should be available to pilots who need it to defend themselves in an enforcement proceeding.
Ø The FAA’s medical certification process has long been known to present a multitude of problems for pilots seeking an airman certificate. The bill requires a review of the FAA’s medical certification process and forms, to provide greater clarity in the questions and reduce the instances of misinterpretation that have, in the past, lead to allegations of intentional falsification against pilots. Non-profit general aviation groups will make up an advisory panel.