U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), a member of the Senate General Aviation Caucus and certified flight instructor with more than 10,000 flight hours, hailed the Senate’s unanimous passage of his bill, the Pilots’ Bill of Rights (S.1335) on Friday. Inhofe has worked to pass the legislation for the past year. His bill has 65 co-sponsors, including U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK).
Last October, the bill garnered the endorsement of pilot and actor Harrison Ford. The next month, the bill crossed an important milestone gaining its 60th co-sponsor in the Senate.
For the past few weeks, Inhofe has worked with Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, to reach a unanimous agreement on the legislation.
“This is a big victory for general aviation pilots all across the country,” said Inhofe. “Last year, I introduced this bill and presented it to the general aviation community at Oshkosh. Thanks to the efforts of so many pilots, and organizations like AOPA and EAA, we were able to get this important bill passed. Over the course of my years in Congress, I have helped an untold number of pilots facing the pressure of dealing with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This bill remedies many of the most serious deficiencies in the relationship between general aviation and the FAA, and ensures that pilots are, like everyone else, treated in a fair and equitable manner by the justice system.
“Senate passage of the Pilot’s Bill of Rights has taken the effort of a many of my colleagues in the Senate, some of whom I didn’t initially agree with. In particular I want to thank Senator Begich for joining me from the very beginning, Senators Hutchison and Rockefeller for being so willing to work through some of the more complicated aspects of the legislation, and of course Senator Reid, who reached across the aisle and has shown real leadership during this effort.”
Begich (pictured) said, “Flying is a way of life in Alaska. With six times more pilots per capita than the rest of the country, it’s important to make sure pilots are treated fairly in their dealings with the FAA. I praise Senator Inhofe for his dedicated efforts to pass this legislation.”
Rod Hightower, Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) President/CEO said, “This is a very important win for GA and protecting aviators’ rights. We especially appreciate the bipartisan support in the Senate for the measure and Sen. Inhofe’s dedicated efforts to move this bill forward.”
Craig Fuller, Aircraft Owners Pilots Association (AOPA) President said, “A year ago, Sen. Inhofe made a bold decision to introduce legislation in support of pilots’ rights when general aviation seemed to be under attack in Washington, D.C. His willingness to take a stand on behalf of pilots, and his success in bringing this measure through the Senate at a time when so much legislation is at a standstill, are powerful testaments to his commitment to protecting the freedom to fly. We applaud Sen. Inhofe’s ongoing work on behalf of general aviation so it can continue to play an important role in fostering economic development, providing personal and business transportation, and delivering services to millions of Americans.”