By JIM MYERS
October 19, 2011
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe made another pitch Tuesday for his Pilots Bill of Rights measure during a closed-door meeting with actor Harrison Ford and the Senate General Aviation Caucus.
Urging others to “harass” those not yet signed onto the bill as co-sponsors, the Oklahoma Republican said later that he also used the session to share his own experience with the Federal Aviation Administration after he landed on a closed runway last year in Texas.
Inhofe said Ford not only expressed support for his legislation but added that the FAA enforcement process is the last in which a person is considered guilty until proven innocent.
Inhofe said his bill is designed to make the FAA enforcement process more fair to pilots by requiring the agency to provide all relevant evidence 30 days prior to a decision, addressing the National Transportation Safety Board’s rubber stamp approach to FAA actions and allowing for an appeals process in federal court.
So-called NOTAMs, or Notices to Airmen, would be simplified and archived in a central location, and the medical certification process would be clarified to protect pilots from abuse.
“I told them of my own experience,” said Inhofe, who again insisted that he was not at fault in the south Texas incident last year.
A veteran pilot, the senator agreed to take remedial training, and the FAA agreed not to pursue legal action.
Inhofe said his bill has 42 co-sponsors, adding that he hopes to get 17 more before pushing for a floor vote in the Senate.
Before the press was asked to leave the meeting, Ford expressed his support of general aviation.
“I’m here to learn, not to teach,” Ford said, describing the “great value” his 15 years of flying have brought to his life.
“I’m very grateful for the experience.”
The star of the highly successful “Indiana Jones” and “Star Wars” films also described the important role aviation has played in the development of the United States and expressed concern about the lack of understanding surrounding it.
In his opening remarks, Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, co-chairman of the 36-member Senate General Aviation Caucus, praised Ford for his advocacy of general aviation as well as his history of humanitarian flights to help others.
Begich also described threats facing general aviation in the U.S., including user fees, rule changes and the failure by Congress to pass a law reauthorizing the FAA.
Source: TULSA WORLD