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Flight training amendment not included in final NDAA bill

A bipartisan provision supported by the entire general aviation community and included in the House National Defense Authorization  Act (NDAA) to address the FAA’s misguided and revised interpretation of flight training policy was not included in the final legislative package, as a tumultuous year-end flurry of activity in the Senate left many unrelated defense items on the cutting room floor.

The NDAA has been signed into law every year for 60 years, and while this year’s final NDAA package looked in doubt, House and Senate negotiators ultimately finalized a bill and sent it to President Joe Biden for signature on December 15.

At this year’s EAA AirVenture in July, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson called the LODA process a “four-letter word” and “a document drill,” and explained it was just a loophole the FAA had to close. Dickson told pilots gathered in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, that he was “not any happier about this situation than you are.”

This summer, GA leaders expressed their dismay to Dickson and to Acting FAA Chief Counsel Mark Bury about the absurdity of the FAA’s reversal of decades of interpretation of flight training.

Hearing GA’s concerns firsthand, Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Angus King (I-Maine), and John Boozman (R-Ark.), and Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) co-sponsored the Certainty for General Aviation Pilots Act of 2021 this summer. The legislation maintained the status quo of the FAA’s interpretation of flight training for the past 60 years.

Subsequently, Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii) joined Graves, the top Republican on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, in submitting an amendment to the House NDAA bill, which passed the House on September 23.

“First, let me thank our supporters on both sides of the aisle and in the House and the Senate who worked diligently to address this issue. What the FAA has done is a poster child for bureaucracy at its best,” AOPA President Mark Baker said. “To say we are disappointed that the House provision was not included in the final package is an understatement, but we will continue to work on this issue.”

“The FAA’s misguided interpretation on flight training needs a commonsense solution, and I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress and GA industry leaders until we fix this once and for all,” said Graves.

Last summer, concurrent with the effort to introduce the Certainty for General Aviation Pilots Act, AOPA rallied its membership to speak up in the name of flight safety, resulting in more than 100,000 letters to Congress urging the reversal of the FAA policy.

“Our members spoke up in tremendous numbers and spirit,” said Baker. “GA pilots know that what the FAA has done does nothing to support safety.”

Alyssa J. Miller

Eric Blinderman

Senior Director of Communications
Eric Blinderman is AOPA’s Senior Director of Communications. Eric joined AOPA in 2020 after several years at leading marketing/communications agencies in New York and is looking forward to putting his newly minted private pilot certificate to work.
Topics: Advocacy, Training and Safety, Experimental

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