Senate Approves Pilots’ Rights Bill With NBAA Provisions Protecting Airmen

Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360,

Washington, DC, Dec. 15, 2015 ­– The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) commends the Senate on its approval of S.571, the Pilots’ Bill of Rights 2 (PBOR2), which includes NBAA-sponsored language that will ensure aviators facing enforcement action have an opportunity to prepare a proper defense, as well as important third-class medical reform.

The measure must also be approved by the House of Representatives before going on to President Barack Obama for his signature.

“NBAA applauds the Senate for passing this important legislation,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “We especially want to recognize the leadership of Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) in introducing the bill, and working with 70 Senate co-sponsors to achieve this important legislative victory for the general aviation community. We are pleased that this bill provides needed reforms for third-class medicals and expands the due-process rights of airmen.”

In 2014, members of the NBAA Regulatory Issues Advisory Group joined Dick Doubrava, the association’s vice president for government affairs, and Brian Koester, NBAA’s manager of operations, in drafting language for the bill that would ensure pilots have an opportunity to prepare a proper defense when time is of the essence.

The provision approved by the Senate requires the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to hand over the enforcement investigative report when serving emergency orders, and upon request in all other cases.

While the original PBOR legislation required timely release of such documentation, many pilots reported that the FAA was not consistently releasing this information in sufficient time to enable pilots to mount a proper legal defense.

“PBOR2, as approved by the Senate, requires that pilots and other certificate holders facing FAA enforcement actions are granted due process under law and treated fairly during enforcement proceedings,” said Koester. “With this bill, pilots are assured every opportunity to protect their airman certificate, which is often tied to their livelihood.”

The PBOR2 legislation also outlines specific actions the FAA may not take, should the agency fail to provide timely notifications at the start of the investigation to individuals facing enforcement action. The final House and Senate PBOR2 bills would also prohibit the FAA from moving forward with any enforcement action, should the agency fail to provide such notifications.

In another important provision, PBOR2 also requires the FAA to reform the current medical-certification process for pilots conducting operations in certain general aviation aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight up to 6,000 pounds, carrying five passengers or less and flying below 18,000 feet. NBAA has supported industry calls for this reformed certification process.   

The Senate-passed bill provides that most pilots holding a valid third class medical – either regular or special-issuance – within 10 years of the final date of enactment of the legislation would not need to take another FAA medical exam. Pilots who develop certain medical conditions – including a small list of specific cardiac, mental health or neurological conditions – will have to obtain a one-time-only FAA special-issuance medical.

Pilots without a valid medical exam in the past the 10 years, or those who have never applied for, nor received a medical certificate, will be required to undergo a one-time third class aviation medical exam. Once this is done, they will be able to fly indefinitely. After meeting any of these requirements, all pilots will be required to visit their personal physician once every four years for a medical exam.

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The association represents more than 10,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at

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