Congressional proponents of the nation’s general aviation (GA) industry recently introduced new legislation to bolster legal protections for GA Pilots’ Rights Legislation nationwide, including language proposed by NBAA to ensure that pilots and other certificate holders facing FAA enforcement action have timely access to information necessary to assist them in formulating a proper defense.
U.S. Sens. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Senate version of the “Pilots Bill of Rights 2” (PBOR2) legislation, S.571, on Feb. 26. On the same day, U.S. Reps. Sam Graves (R-6-MO) and Collin Peterson (D-7-MN) introduced a companion House measure, H.R. 1062.
Last year, members of the NBAA Regulatory Issues Advisory Group joined Dick Doubrava, the association’s vice president for government affairs, and Brian Koester, NBAA’s project manager for operations, in meeting with Inhofe’s office regarding the addition of language that will ensure defendants have an opportunity to prepare a proper defense.
The resulting provision, specified in PBOR2, would require the FAA to hand over the enforcement report when serving emergency orders, and upon request in all other cases. Although the timely release of such documentation was a key requirement in the original PBOR legislation, multiple reports from the pilot community indicate the agency has not consistently released this documentation in sufficient time to enable defendants to mount a proper legal defense.
“This key provision ensures that pilots and other certificate holders facing FAA enforcement action are granted their due process under law,” noted NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, “and is keeping with the spirit and intent of the initial Pilots Bill of Rights measure in assuring that the nation’s pilot community is treated fairly during enforcement action proceedings. We are particularly pleased that our concerns in this area are reflected in this new legislation, and we look forward to doing what we can to help move these important bills into law.”
Additional provisions outline specific actions the FAA may not take, should the agency fail to provide timely notifications to individuals facing enforcement action at the start of the investigation. The PBOR2 legislation also calls for expedited action to reform the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) process, and the extension of civil liability protections afforded to government employees to aviation medical examiners and other FAA representatives in the private sector.
The new measures, which build upon the landmark Pilot’s Bill of Rights legislation signed into law in August 2012, also include language to compel the FAA to take action on oft-delayed industry calls for reform to the third-class medical requirement for general aviation (GA) pilots.
NBAA has consistently joined with other industry association in calling for this reformed certification process, which seeks to broaden access to GA aircraft while maintaining the industry’s commendable levels of safety, and spur growth throughout the nation’s GA pilot community.