U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) took to the Senate floor on June 14 to ask for passage of his Pilots Bill of Rights legislation. The effort, however was blocked by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) and ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).
Among other things, the bill would require that the FAA notify pilots when they are under investigation, along with beginning a process to improve NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen).
Inhofe is using his own experiences to justify the bill. “It wasn't until I had a personal experience, that I realized the depth of the problem,” he said prior to Hutchison and Rockefeller blocking the bill.
The Commerce leaders said the bill could end up affecting safety. “This bill would create a process, which would be new, that could result in the federal government being unable to pursue enforcement actions because of limited resources,” said Rockefeller.
Hutchison, a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member in the late 1970s, took issue with language that would remove NTSB’s part in the appeals process when a pilot's license is revoked or suspended.
Inhofe is not alone - Democratic Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) is the bill's lone co-sponsor. Begich “strongly supports this legislation as it would ensure pilots have access to relevant information and receive fair treatment during the FAA enforcement action process,” said Begich’s press secretary, Julie Hasquet.
With the top two lawmakers in charge of aviation opposed, the bill is unlikely to be considered in the Senate anytime soon.