WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a member of the Senate General Aviation Caucus and certified flight instructor with more than 11,000 flight hours, today introduced S. 571, the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 (PBOR 2), legislation to expand the 3rd class medical exemption for recreational pilots and broaden the protections provided in the original Pilot’s Bill of Rights authored by Inhofe and signed into law in 2012. Original co-sponsors of PBOR 2 include Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Angus King (I-Maine) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) Congressman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) introduced today the House companion legislation, H.R. 1062.
“The first Pilot’s Bill of Rights was a victory for the aviation community and made possible by the support of pilots and industry leaders across the nation,” Inhofe said. “Since being signed into law, more issues facing the general aviation (GA) community have surfaced. The Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 addresses these concerns and builds on the success of my previous legislation. Among the provisions included in the bill are an expansion of the 3rd class medical exemption and a significant improvement to the due process rights of pilots facing enforcement actions from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). I am proud to work with great organizations like AOPA, EAA and GAMA on this legislation, as well as have the strong bipartisan support of my colleagues in Congress. I will be working to shepherd this law through Congress so that it can be swiftly enacted into law.”
“As a pilot myself and as Co-Chairman of the General Aviation Caucus, it has always been a top priority of mine to address the unique challenges faced by the general aviation sector and to reduce the unnecessary bureaucratic barriers that prevent pilots from flying,” Manchin said. “I am proud to support this bipartisan legislation that includes important reforms for the general aviation community and expands the rights of our pilots and industry leaders nationwide.”
President of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Mark Baker said, “The introduction of the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 is great news for the general aviation community and we are grateful to Sen. Inhofe for putting forward this legislation that would do so much to help grow and support general aviation activity. Pilots have already waited too long for medical reform, so we’re particularly pleased to see it included in this important measure. We will actively work with Congress to build support for this legislation that is so vital to the future of GA and the 1.1 million jobs that depend on it.”
Chairman of the Board for the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Jack Pelton said, “Sen. Inhofe and the other bipartisan co-sponsors in the Senate and House understand the importance of providing for the fair and equitable treatment of all airmen by introducing the second Pilot’s Bill of Rights, and we appreciate their work to move these important measures forward. Aeromedical reform is an urgent need that is overwhelmingly supported by our members and other recreational pilots. We also strongly support the common-sense provisions ensuring due process for airmen in enforcement cases and liability protections for designees conducting important aviation safety activities once exclusively handled by the federal government.”
General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) President and CEO Pete Bunce said, “I applaud Sen. Inhofe for his bipartisan leadership in introducing the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2. This legislation includes much-needed, common-sense reforms for the general aviation community. It is critically important that the third-class medical issue is resolved quickly, and this bill sends a clear message to the bureaucracy to get it done. Additionally, in this time of rapid communications technology, it is unacceptable that the NOTAM system remains broken—this bill will help to fix it. Finally, the liability protections offered to volunteer pilots in this bill are extremely important to the nation as general aviation continues to provide transportation for cancer patients, wounded veterans, and other citizens requiring assistance to access needed medical care.”
In August 2014, Inhofe released a draft of the PBOR 2 legislation to the public and requested feedback to improve the language. At the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in convention, Inhofe also hosted a public forum to solicit input for the legislation. He received over 400 comments through his website from the general aviation community, which were read and considered in crafting the final legislation introduced today.
Details about the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2:
- Reforms FAA’s overly burdensome medical certification process by expanding an existing FAA medical standard to include more qualified, trained pilots.
- Extends the due process rights preserved in the first PBOR to all FAA certificate holders, and enhances those rights by ensuring certificate holders have the right to appeal a FAA decision through a new, merit-based trial in Federal Court.
- Increases transparency for all FAA certificate holders subject to an investigation or enforcement action by holding FAA accountable for communicating with certificate holders. FAA is required to articulate a specific description of the incident or incidents under investigation to parties involved in the investigation, and provide specific documentation relevant to its investigation.
- Expedites updates to the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) Improvement Program required in the first Pilot’s Bill of Rights and directs FAA to develop a prioritization system organizing NOTAMs by urgency and importance, as well as include the effective duration of temporary flight restrictions. This ensures the most relevant and important information reaches the pilot. The legislation also mandates that FAA certify the accuracy of posted NOTAMs.
- Ensures the accessibility of flight data such as air traffic communication tapes and radar information produced by contract towers, flight service stations and controller training programs, giving certificate holders the ability to use this information to defend themselves during an enforcement action proceeding.
- Extends liability protection to individuals designated by FAA, such as aviation medical examiners, pilot examiners or designated airworthiness representatives. This provision provides the protections enjoyed by federal employees to individuals performing a uniquely federal function, ensuring everyone has access to medical professionals and designees to sign off on check rides and the flightworthiness of experimental aircraft.
- Acts as a Good Samaritan Law for volunteer aviation pilots, protecting pilots from liability as long as they are following appropriate procedures. This is an important consideration for non-profit organizations dependent on volunteers that provide non-cost transportation for the public benefit.