IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
To amend title 49, United States Code, to provide rights for pilots, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Pilot's Bill of
Federal Aviation Administration enforcement proceedings and elimination of deference
Any proceeding conducted under subpart C, D, or F of part 821 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, relating to denial, amendment, modification, suspension, or revocation of an airman certificate, shall be conducted, to the extent practicable, in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence.
Access to information
Except as provided under paragraph (3), the
Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (referred to in this
section as the
Administrator) shall provide timely, written
notification to an individual who is the subject of an investigation relating
to the approval, denial, suspension, modification, or revocation of an airman
certificate under chapter 447 of title 49, United States Code.
The notification required under paragraph (1) shall inform the individual—
of the nature of the investigation;
that an oral or written response to a Letter of Investigation from the Administrator is not required;
that no action or adverse inference can be taken against the individual for declining to respond to a Letter of Investigation from the Administrator;
that any response to a Letter of Investigation from the Administrator or to an inquiry made by a representative of the Administrator by the individual may be used as evidence against the individual;
that the releasable portions of the Administrator’s investigative report will be available to the individual; and
that the individual is entitled to access or otherwise obtain air traffic data described in paragraph (4).
The Administrator may delay timely notification under paragraph (1) if the Administrator determines that such notification may threaten the integrity of the investigation.
Access to air traffic data
FAA air traffic data
The Administrator shall provide an individual described in paragraph (1) with timely access to any air traffic data in the possession of the Federal Aviation Administration that would facilitate the individual’s ability to productively participate in a proceeding relating to an investigation described in such paragraph.
Air traffic data defined
As used in subparagraph (A), the term air traffic data includes—
relevant air traffic communication tapes;
air traffic controller statements;
investigative reports; and
any other air traffic or flight data in the Federal Aviation Administration’s possession that would facilitate the individual’s ability to productively participate in the proceeding.
Government contractor air traffic data
Any individual described in paragraph (1) is entitled to obtain any air traffic data that would facilitate the individual’s ability to productively participate in a proceeding relating to an investigation described in such paragraph from a government contractor that provides operational services to the Federal Aviation Administration, including control towers and flight service stations.
Required information from individual
The individual may obtain the information described in clause (i) by submitting a request to the Administrator that—
describes the facility at which such information is located; and
identifies the date on which such information was generated.
Provision of information to individual
If the Administrator receives a request under this subparagraph, the Administrator shall—
request the contractor to provide the requested information; and
upon receiving such information, transmitting the information to the requesting individual in a timely manner.
Except when the Administrator determines that an emergency exists under section 44709(c)(2) or 46105(c), the Administrator may not proceed against an individual that is the subject of an investigation described in paragraph (1) during the 30-day period beginning on the date on which the air traffic data required under paragraph (4) is made available to the individual.
Amendments to title 49
Section 44703(d)(2) of title 49, United
States Code, is amended by striking
but is bound by all validly adopted
interpretations of laws and regulations the Administrator carries out unless
the Board finds an interpretation is arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not
according to law.
Amendments, modifications, suspensions, and revocations of certificates
Section 44709(d)(3) of such title is
amended by striking
but is bound by all validly adopted interpretations
of laws and regulations the Administrator carries out and of written agency
policy guidance available to the public related to sanctions to be imposed
under this section unless the Board finds an interpretation is arbitrary,
capricious, or otherwise not according to law.
Revocation of airman certificates for controlled substance violations
Section 44710(d)(1) of such title is
amended by striking
but shall be bound by all validly adopted
interpretations of laws and regulations the Administrator carries out and of
written agency policy guidance available to the public related to sanctions to
be imposed under this section unless the Board finds an interpretation is
arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not according to law.
Appeal from certificate actions
Upon a decision by the National Transportation Safety Board upholding an order or a final decision by the Administrator denying an airman certificate under section 44703(d) of title 49, United States Code, or imposing a punitive civil action or an emergency order of revocation under subsections (d) and (e) of section 44709 of such title, an individual substantially affected by an order of the Board may, at the individual’s election, file an appeal in the United States district court in which the individual resides or in which the action in question occurred, or in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. If the individual substantially affected by an order of the Board elects not to file an appeal in a United States district court, the individual may file an appeal in an appropriate United States court of appeals.
Emergency order pending judicial review
Subsequent to a decision by the Board to uphold an Administrator’s emergency order under section 44709(e)(2) of title 49, United States Code, and absent a stay of the enforcement of that order by the Board, the emergency order of amendment, modification, suspension, or revocation of a certificate shall remain in effect, pending the exhaustion of an appeal to a Federal district court as provided in this Act.
Standard of review
In an appeal filed under subsection (d) in a United States district court, the district court shall give full independent review of a denial, suspension, or revocation ordered by the Administrator, including substantive independent and expedited review of any decision by the Administrator to make such order effective immediately.
A United States district court’s review under paragraph (1) shall include in evidence any record of the proceeding before the Administrator and any record of the proceeding before the National Transportation Safety Board, including hearing testimony, transcripts, exhibits, decisions, and briefs submitted by the parties.
Notices to Airmen
In this section, the term NOTAM means Notices to Airmen.
Not later than 180 days after the date of
the enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation
Administration shall begin a Notice to Airmen Improvement Program (in this
section referred to as the
NOTAM Improvement Program)—
to improve the system of providing airmen with pertinent and timely information regarding the national airspace system;
to archive, in a public central location, all NOTAMs, including the original content and form of the notices, the original date of publication, and any amendments to such notices with the date of each amendment; and
to apply filters so that pilots can prioritize critical flight safety information from other airspace system information.
Goals of program
The goals of the NOTAM Improvement Program are—
to decrease the overwhelming volume of NOTAMs an airman receives when retrieving airman information prior to a flight in the national airspace system;
make the NOTAMs more specific and relevant to the airman’s route and in a format that is more useable to the airman;
to provide a full set of NOTAM results in addition to specific information requested by airmen;
to provide a document that is easily searchable; and
to provide a filtering mechanism similar to that provided by the Department of Defense Notices to Airmen.
Advice from private sector groups
The Administrator shall establish a NOTAM Improvement Panel, which shall be comprised of representatives of relevant nonprofit and not-for-profit general aviation pilot groups, to advise the Administrator in carrying out the goals of the NOTAM Improvement Program under this section.
Phase-in and completion
The improvements required by this section shall be phased in as quickly as practicable and shall be completed not later than the date that is 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act.
Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall initiate an assessment of the Federal Aviation Administration’s medical certification process and the associated medical standards and forms.
The Comptroller General shall submit a report to Congress based on the assessment required under paragraph (1) that examines—
revisions to the medical application form that would provide greater clarity and guidance to applicants;
the alignment of medical qualification policies with present-day qualified medical judgment and practices, as applied to an individual’s medically relevant circumstances; and
steps that could be taken to promote the public’s understanding of the medical requirements that determine an airman’s medical certificate eligibility.
Goals of the Federal Aviation Administration’s medical certification process
The goals of the Federal Aviation Administration’s medical certification process are—
to provide questions in the medical application form that—
are appropriate without being overly broad;
are subject to a minimum amount of misinterpretation and mistaken responses;
allow for consistent treatment and responses during the medical application process; and
avoid unnecessary allegations that an individual has intentionally falsified answers on the form;
to provide questions that elicit information that is relevant to making a determination of an individual’s medical qualifications within the standards identified in the Administrator’s regulations;
to give medical standards greater meaning by ensuring the information requested aligns with present-day medical judgment and practices; and
to ensure that—
the application of such medical standards provides an appropriate and fair evaluation of an individual’s qualifications; and
the individual understands the basis for determining medical qualifications.
Advice from private sector groups
The Administrator shall establish a panel, which shall be comprised of representatives of relevant nonprofit and not-for-profit general aviation pilot groups, aviation medical examiners, and other qualified medical experts, to advise the Administrator in carrying out the goals of the assessment required under this section.
Federal Aviation Administration response
Not later than 1 year after the issuance of the report by the Comptroller General pursuant to subsection (a)(2), the Administrator shall take appropriate actions to respond to such report.
Passed the Senate June 29, 2012.