The U.S. Senate shortly is expected to begin consideration of a Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 (PBOR 2) measure that would ease third-class medical requirements for recreational pilots and increase pilot protections. The measure, introduced by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.), essentially mirrors the legislation crafted by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). Manchin and Boozman are offering the measure to the Senate version of the highway reauthorization bill, H.R.22, that has been under debate this week.
General aviation groups, including AOPA and EAA, have been urging their members to lobby Congress for support. Their appeals come as the Air Line Pilots Association wrote Congress objecting to the third-class medical reform aspect, saying it cold permit “medically unfit pilots unfettered access to the national airspace.”ALPA said it supported other aspects of PBOR 2 and hoped to work with Congress on a compromise. EAAChairman Jack Pelton called the ALPA stance “most disappointing and utterly out of step with the rest of the general aviation and airline pilot community.”
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta last week told attendees at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., that the FAA is still working the issue but does not yet have a proposal. “I know this is frustrating to hear; it is frustrating to report,” he said, adding the agency is coordinating closely with Congress. “There is a lot of interest in Congress to provide us the authority to change the medical certification requirement.”
While a vote looks promising on PBOR 2 in the Senate, the House and Senate remain far apart on the highway reauthorization bill. The Senate yesterday voted 64-29 to add an amendment to reauthorize the Ex-Im bank. That measure has drawn objections from House leaders, who yesterday said they will refuse to consider the Senate highway bill. This makes a short-term extension likely. Such an extension is not expected to include amendments such as Ex-Im or PBOR 2.