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 Law
The 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.
Sen. Inhofe On The Pilot's Bill of Rights
More Changes In The Pilot's Bill of Rights
The FAA must undertake a NOTAM improvement program making it simpler and archiving NOTAMs in a central location. This will ensure that relevant, timely information is made available to all pilots. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) is required to review the FAA's medical certification process and forms with the goal of clarifying questions to eliminate charges of intential falsification against pilots.
An Improvement For Pilots?
Yes, certainly an improvement; however, the NTSB refuses to give up its practice of assuming that all FAA allegations are true for emergency enforcement appeals. Despite pleas from general aviation groups, and while admitting that this assumption of the truth of FAA allegations is fundamentally unfair challenging an emergency revocation of a pilot certificate should not provide an opportunity to challenge this determination and delay its implementation.
While the Pilot's Bill of Rights certainly addresses some of the problems between the general aviation community and the FAA, more work remains to be done. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. In the meantime keep your wings straight and level Hersch! Please share "Pilot's Bill of Rights" with your friends using the buttons below. Thanks!
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7+
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