Dec. 18, 2015


(R-AR), a successful businessman and lifelong resident of Arkansas, has represented the state in Congress since 2001, first as the U.S. representative from the 3rd District, then as a member of the U.S. Senate since 2011. Raised in Fort Smith, he completed his pre-optometry requirements at the University of Arkansas then graduated from the Southern College of Optometry in 1977. The same year Sen. Boozman co-founded a family business with his brother that would ultimately become a major provider of eye care. He currently serves on five Senate committees in the 114th Congress, including Appropriations; Veterans Affairs; Rules; Environment and Public Works; and Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. He has been a longtime supporter of general aviation, having been one of the founding members of the House GA Caucus. He now serves as co-chair of the Senate GA Caucus.

Why did you decide to be a leader of the Senate GA Caucus?

In Arkansas, general aviation airports generate more than $500 million annually in economic activity, and nearly 10,000 Arkansans work in aviation and aerospace manufacturing, many of them in the general aviation sector. Many of my colleagues have similar success with GA in their states. General aviation in the United States is truly one of the keys to our global competitiveness. The industry gives our businesses a tremendous advantage. As we debate FAA reauthorization and other important issues, the interests and concerns of all stakeholders, including the diverse GA sector, must be carefully considered. That’s why I am proud to work with Senator Joe Manchin to promote GA and share its importance with our colleagues.

You also have demonstrated your support for GA by advocating funding of smaller airports.

I have directly advocated for many Arkansas airports and have supported investments in GA airports across the country, including more than $20 million in federal grants for updates and expansion at more than 40 airports in Arkansas this year alone. These investments will improve economic development in our state, as GA is an important contributor to long-term growth and job creation. These airports provide aviation jobs and access for business, emergency response and medical flights, as well as air tours and air cargo operations.

What led you to introduce a bill to reform third-class medical standards?

Thousands of pilots, including many from Arkansas, have asked the FAA to expand the light sport aircraft medical exemption to cover additional small aircraft. That’s why Senators Joe Donnelly, Jerry Moran, Pat Roberts, Kelly Ayotte, Jim Inhofe and I introduced the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act. Rep. Todd Rokita is leading on this issue in the House of Representatives. Our provisions were also included in the bipartisan Pilots Bill of Rights II authored by Senator Inhofe.

We want to require the FAA to reform general aviation medical standards to maintain safety while supporting capable pilots and sustaining economic growth in the industry. The FAA has stalled and is doing too little to address this issue, which is so important to the pilot community. As long as the FAA continues to delay, we will push for a legislative solution that would ensure safety and eliminate burdens that are unnecessary.

Why is the Pilots Bill of Rights 2 important?

The Pilots Bill of Rights 2 includes the third-class medical provisions. Over the last decade, approximately 60,000 pilots left the industry, many due to the costly and time-consuming process of obtaining a thirdclass medical certificate. We’ve got to stop needlessly grounding so many pilots.

In addition to addressing the third-class medical standards, the Pilots Bill of Rights 2 will provide other needed reforms. In particular, this legislation will extend due-process protections to all FAA certificate holders and will make sure that pilots have a fair appeals process in the judicial system. The legislation will also increase transparency so that FAA certificate holders who are subject to an investigation or enforcement action have access to important and relevant information that the FAA possesses.


This article originally appeared in the September/October issue of Business Aviation Insider.