On August 3rd, 2012 Senator Inhofe announced that the Pilot's Bill of Rights had been officially signed into law. This bill came about because of the pressure pilots face dealing with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), something I know a little bit about. Unfortunately, dealing with the FAA can be very stressful because as pilots we are dealing with an organization that has all of the power and rights while we have few or none. As a result of the efforts of a number of the alphabet general aviation associations Sen. Inhofe was able to craft a Pilot's Bill of Rights piece of legislation which he then moved through Congress (with the help of folks like Harrison Ford - a pilot) and finally was signed into law by President Obama.
Harrison Ford Speaks Out
The Pilot's Bill of Rights Becomes LawThe Pilot's Bill of Rights has moved the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to make FAA enforcement proceedings and NTSB reviews a bit fairer for pilots. The goal was to correct the deficiencies in the relationship between general aviation pilots and the FAA to ensure pilots are treated in a fair and equitable manner by the system.
What Is In The Pilot's Bill of Rights?The Pilot's Bill of Rights contains a number of items, some of which I outline below:
- Federal district courts are allowed to review appeals of NTSB rulings which simply means a pilot gets a new trial with the introduction of evidence and a new review of the facts of the case;
- Often times the NTSB is too busy and simply rubber stamps an FAA decision which makes the FAA appeal process meaningless. To correct this the deference to the NTSB for review of FAA actions has been removed.
- The NTSB is now required to review FAA enforcement actions in conformance with the Federal Rules of Evidence and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
- The FAA is now required to give timely notice to a pilot of any enforcement action against them, and grant the pilot all relevant evidence 30 days prior to proceeding with an enforcement action.
- The FAA must tell a pilot who is the subject of an investigation in a timely manner, and advise the pilot that any response the pilot makes can be used as evidence against them.
- The new law makes contractor run flight service stations and control tower communications available to pilots.