Daines’ Bill to Protect Pilots Passes Senate Commerce Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Steve Daines today hailed the bipartisan passage of his measure to protect and expand protections for Montana pilots.

Daines’ bill, S. 571 the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 (PBOR 2) passed the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee today on a large bipartisan vote. It increases protections for recreational and volunteer pilots by expanding the 3rd class medical exemption for recreational pilots and broadening the protections provided in the original Pilot’s Bill of Rights signed into law in 2012. 

“I am proud to see the Committee rally around bipartisan legislation that prioritizes our robust aviation industry and expands the rights of hardworking pilots nationwide,” Daines stated.  “This bill cuts down burdensome bureaucratic regulations and institutes commonsense and necessary reforms to protect recreational and volunteer pilots. I urge Congressional leadership to quickly take up and pass this measure that supports Montana aviation.” 

The Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 will:

  • Reform FAA’s overly burdensome medical certification process by expanding an existing FAA medical standard to include more qualified, trained pilots.

  • Extend the due process rights preserved in the first Pilots Bill of Rights to all FAA certificate holders, and enhance those rights by ensuring certificate holders have the right to appeal a FAA decision through a new, merit-based trial in Federal Court.

  • Increase transparency for all FAA certificate holders subject to an investigation or enforcement action by holding FAA accountable for communicating with certificate holders. FAA is required to articulate a specific description of the incident or incidents under investigation to parties involved in the investigation, and provide specific documentation relevant to its investigation.
  • Expedite updates to the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) Improvement Program required in the first Pilot’s Bill of Rights and directs FAA to develop a prioritization system organizing NOTAMs by urgency and importance, as well as include the effective duration of temporary flight restrictions. This ensures the most relevant and important information reaches the pilot. The legislation also mandates that FAA certify the accuracy of posted NOTAMs.
  • Ensure the accessibility of flight data such as air traffic communication tapes and radar information produced by contract towers, flight service stations and controller training programs, giving certificate holders the ability to use this information to defend themselves during an enforcement action proceeding.

Daines’ efforts were applauded across Montana: 

Billings Flying Service: “Billings Flying Service, Inc. is pleased with the passing of the Pilot Bill of Rights 2. We believe it will be a phenomenal score for General Aviation. Aviation Medicals have become more difficult to obtain and to locate a qualified Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) is challenging. The restrictions to operate an aircraft have become too stringent preventing capable pilots from contributing to the industry. We look forward to these restrictions being lifted, allowing new pilots into the industry while keeping the pioneers of aviation flying.”

Montana Pilots Association President Scott Newpower: “The Montana Pilots Association and it’s many members wholeheartedly support the Pilots Bill of Rights 2. Countless millions of dollars are wasted each year by pilots all over the country on needless. The current FAA medical certification process has evolved into a costly and onerous one. More than 10 years ago the FAA recognized this when the Sport Pilot license was created, this allowed pilots to operate many kinds of aircraft without an FAA medical. In those 10 years thousands of pilots have flown tens of thousands of hours safely.  Not only does this bill reduce unnecessary costs to pilots it also saves the FAA millions of dollars a year. This money can better be spent on training, aircraft maintenance, upgrades and increased flying hours. The aviation industry contributes billions of dollars a year into the economy and this bill will help to increase that.” 

Rocky Mountain College Director of Aviation Dan Hargrove: “As the only 4-year collegiate aviation program in Montana, Rocky Mountain College supports this legislation because it is good for the entire aviation profession.  We need more people interested in flying both recreationally and professionally.  Reducing the burden to safely enter the exciting world of flight and creating common sense laws that protect pilots will reduce costs, create jobs, and help attract people to this critical profession.”