Inhofe, Duckworth Introduce Bill to Support Future of Aviation

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) introduced the Securing and Revitalizing Aviation (SARA) Act of 2018. This bipartisan legislation would empower and support the next generation of pilots and the general aviation community. 

“Across the aviation industry, we are facing an unfortunate reality—too few young Americans are starting careers in the field,” Inhofe said. “This bill will empower the next generation of needed pilots by giving young Americans access to quality aviation curriculum such as ground school—a critical first step for most careers in aviation. It further embraces needed reforms to address the substantial delays recreational and commercial pilots face in scheduling check rides, impacting their ability to obtain and maintain necessary qualifications.

“After I successfully passed legislation to enact third class medical reforms, the number of active pilots grew by over 25,000. Enacting this legislation will continue this positive trend and grow the general aviation community.”

 “The SARA Act includes a number of common-sense solutions to address many of the critical challenges facing the aviation industry,” said Duckworth. “I’m proud to join Senator Inhofe in introducing this bipartisan legislation that directly targets these problems by expanding educational opportunities for students pursuing careers in aviation, protecting volunteer pilots, and implementing safeguards that benefit the entire aviation community.”

Details of S. 3270, The SARA Act:

  • Creates the Aircraft Pilot Education Program to support the education of aircraft pilots and the aviation pilot workforce by encouraging the creation and delivery of aviation curriculum to high school students.
  • Cuts through the red tape by reviewing and rewriting existing regulations that limit the availability of pilot examiners. The lack of pilot examiners impair recreational and commercial pilots from obtaining recurring qualifications, as well as preventing flight schools from graduating students on time.
  • Embraces needed reforms to ensure new and experienced pilots have consistent access to designated pilot examiners to accommodate their recurring skills training requirements.
  • Enhances protections for the aviation community including giving NTSB the authority to review the denial of an airman medial certificate by the FAA; extending to FAA designees the existing due process protections enjoyed by pilots; and providing that an airman may voluntarily surrender an airmen medical certificate and may reapply for a certificate without an unnecessary wait period.
  • Supports proactive conservation-minded efforts by seaplane pilots to mitigate the spread of aquatic invasive species, enabling appropriate access of seaplane pilots to bodies of water.
  • Implements the Volunteer Pilot Protection Act, which qualifies volunteer pilots for limited liability protection as long as they followed appropriate procedures, have the FAA-required flight experience and maintain some amount of liability insurance.

Full text of the bill can be found here.

Statements of Support:

The bill has gained support from across the aviation industry.

"Senator Inhofe is a steadfast proponent of general aviation, and we thank him for introducing the SARA Act,” said Mark Baker, president and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. “This legislation will help rebuild the pilot workforce by introducing more young people to aviation curriculum in high school classrooms, provide pilots who volunteer their time and resources with reasonable good Samaritan protections, helps address issues the pilot community is facing with a depleted Designated Pilot Examiner workforce, addresses good environmental stewardship for seaplane pilots to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species in our nation’s lakes and rivers, and other positive provisions that will move general aviation forward. AOPA and hundreds of thousands of pilots across America support the SARA Act and urge the Senate to include this bill in the pending FAA Reauthorization.”

“We greatly appreciate Sen. Inhofe bringing this legislation forward and Congress for recognizing the urgency of maintaining America’s leadership in the aviation through this bill,” said Jack J. Pelton, CEO and chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association. “As EAA uses its own programs to inspire and encourage the next generation of pilots, the support of our congressional leadership will help focus on the needs and opportunities in the aviation world.”

“Senator Inhofe has always been a stalwart defender of general aviation and this bill exemplifies his continued commitment and leadership on behalf of all pilots,” said Matt Zucarro, president of Helicopter Association International. “In particular, the Securing and Revitalizing Aviation Act would enable more young people to consider a career in aviation, while embracing reforms so all general aviation pilots can depend on timely access to designed pilot examiners for needed recertification and skills training.”

"On behalf of NBAA, we'd like to commend Senator Jim Inhofe and Senator Tammy Duckworth on sponsoring this important legislation, the Securing and Revitalizing Aviation Act which will greatly benefit the entire aviation community,” said Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association. “We look forward to working with them and the other cosponsors of this bill in gaining prompt Senate passage.”

“We applaud Senator Inhofe for his ongoing and unwavering dedication to, and support for, the general aviation community," said Mark Kimberling, president and CEO of the National Association of State Aviation Officials. “The SARA Act addresses a broad range of issues that will—among other things—help stimulate a much-needed influx of new pilots, keep current pilots in the sky, all while enhancing general aviation safety. On behalf of the many esteemed state aviation leaders we represent, NASAO fully supports this bill and we urge the Senate to take swift action in passing this vital legislation for the betterment of the entire GA community.”

“The Allied Pilots Association enthusiastically supports this beneficial, pro-pilot legislation and we applaud Senator Inhofe for taking the lead in sponsoring this important bill,” said Capt. Dan Carey, president of the Allied Pilots Association. “It would help make a flying career more accessible for young Americans by enabling high school students to take ground school classes, and it would benefit pilots in a variety of other ways. For example, it would help address the current shortage of Designated Pilot Examiners for pilots and pilot training schools, and the legislation would also serve as a Good Samaritan Law for volunteer pilots, protecting them from liability as long as they are following appropriate procedures.

“CAPA strongly supports Senator Inhofe and Senator Duckworth for introducing this important piece of aviation safety legislation,” said Capt. Lee Collins, president of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association. “These Senators have a long record of consistent and committed efforts by ensuring the highest level of safety exists on behalf of our nation’s airline industry and airspace system.

“NJASAP is pleased to lend its support to the Securing and Revitalizing Aviation Act (SARA) of 2018,” said Pedro Leroux, president of the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots. “Sen. Inhofe has introduced a forward focused, innovative measure capable of eliminating hurdles to overdue reform and alleviating burdensome regulations for aviation stakeholders.”

“The enhanced protections the SARA Act of 2018 will to afford our members whenever an airman seeks reinstatement of a medical certificate is good public policy that will enhance safety and fair treatment of professional aviators who have dedicated their lives to the flying public,” said Captain Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association.

“Airlines for America applauds Senator Inhofe for his leadership in introducing legislation aimed at providing support for developing high school students interested in becoming pilots or aviation engineers,” said Sharon Pinkerton, senior vice president of Airlines for America. “Attracting young people to aviation careers is critical, and we share Senator Inhofe’s passion for the aviation industry.”

“With the growing demand for air service and the current pilot shortage, the need for more commercial airline pilots is unprecedented,” said Faye Malarkey Black, president of the Regional Airline Association. “The RAA commends Senator Inhofe for introducing the SARA Act, which will not only help inspire the next generation of pilots but will also advance reforms to speed the development of pilots already in the pipeline.”

The members of the Cargo Airline Association support Senator Inhofe’s Securing and Revitalizing Aviation Act as it takes important steps to address the aviation industry’s struggle to attract and retain qualified pilots that are so important to a robust pilot workforce,” said Steve Alterman, president of the Cargo Airlines Association. “We applaud Senator Inhofe for focusing on this growing challenge.”

“The SARA Act’s many parts are focused on one important objective: strengthening America’s aviation sector,” said Christian Klein, executive vice president of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association. “The legislation will help attract and train new pilots, make it easier for aviators to use their talents to serve the public good, foster public interest in flying, reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens, and strengthen due process and other protections for those involved in aviation. ARSA commends Senators Inhofe and Duckworth for their leadership and looks forward to working with them and their allies to enact SARA into law.”

“We appreciate Senator Inhofe’s strong and continued commitment to advancing the general aviation community,” said Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.