Legislation designed to protect pilots from overzealous use of the FAA’s power to suspend, or even revoke, your airman certificate could come up for a vote in the U.S. Senate as early as next week. Pilots nationwide are urged to contact both their U.S. senators to urge them to vote in favor of emergency certificate revocation legislation.
Emergency certificate revocation legislation, sometimes known as the “Hoover Bill,” after the famous case of aerobatic pilot Bob Hoover, was included in the Aviation Investment and Reform Act (H.R.1000), which the U.S. House of Representatives passed last month. However, certificate revocation legislation must still gain the approval of the Senate before it becomes law.
When the Senate considers its FAA reauthorization bill (S.82), Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.)—a fellow AOPA member who is the driving force behind the emergency certificate legislation—and Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) will offer an amendment to add it to the FAA bill.
The Inhofe-Breaux amendment is a response to the FAA’s increasing use of its emergency powers to suspend or revoke airman certificates. The impact of an emergency revocation on the pilot is immediate and drastic—that pilot cannot fly an aircraft until the issue is resolved by the National Transportation Safety Board months later. The FAA has declared emergencies over alleged violations that were many years old, or involved paperwork violations that posed no immediate threat to safety. If you are hit with an emergency certificate action, you might well be found perfectly innocent—but until your case is heard and decided, you’re grounded, even if no threat to safety exists.
The Inhofe-Breaux amendment would give a pilot the right to quickly appeal the emergency nature of a certificate action to the NTSB. If the NTSB approved, the FAA could still pursue its case, but in the meantime, the pilot would keep his certificate. Groups representing general aviation, airlines, airline pilots, and the NTSB Bar Association have joined AOPA in support of the amendment.
The Senate vote on the Inhofe-Breaux amendment could come any day now. “The Senate is very unpredictable—we thought the vote was imminent the last time we asked for help from pilots on this legislation earlier this year,” according to Phil Boyer. “But where the legislative process is concerned, you must be ready for battle at any time.”
Please contact your two U.S. senators now and urge them to vote for the “Inhofe-Breaux amendment to the FAA Reauthorization bill (S.82) regarding emergency certificate revocations.” Tell them the amendment will protect the rights of pilots without threatening aviation safety.
Even if you have contacted them already, your senators need to hear from you now while the issue is on their minds. With such a close vote, aviators like you could mean the difference between victory and defeat. Please call both your senators today. You can reach them through the U.S. Capitol Switchboard, 202/224-3121. See AOPA’s Citizen’s Guide for more information, including how to find the names of your U.S. senators.
July 16, 1999