Senate Democrats

Objection to S.3268, the Pilots’ Rights Act

During Thursday’s session, Senator Inhofe asked unanimous consent to pass S.3268, the Pilot’s Rights Act.  Senators Rockefeller and Hutchison objected to Senator Inhofe’s request.  The unofficial transcript of their remarks is below.

 

13:01:39 NSP} (MR. INHOFE) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

MR. INHOFE: MADAM PRESIDENT, IN A MOMENT I WANT TO PUT A

UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST AND BEFORE I DO, I’D LIKE TO SAY WHAT

IT’S ON SO THAT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE TIME AND THE EFFORT

THAT’S GONE INTO GETTING LEGISLATION PASSED, AND I’M REFERRING

NOW TO A — 3268. MADAM PRESIDENT, WHEN JOHN GLENN RETIRED FROM

THIS BODY THAT LEFT ME AS KIND OF THE LAST ACTIVE COMMERCIAL

PILOT. CONSEQUENTLY I END UP GETTING A LOT MORE OF THE — OH,

THE COMPLAINTS AND PROBLEMS WITHIN THE F.A.A. AND THE WAY

CASES, ACCUSATIONS ARE MADE AND ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS ARE TAKEN.

AND I’VE GONE TO BAT FOR A LOT OF THESE PEOPLE WHEN I’VE FELT

THERE IS REALLY A FAIRNESS PROBLEM. AND IT WASN’T UNTIL I HAD

AN EXPERIENCE, A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE THAT I REALIZED THE DEPTH

OF THE PROBLEM. IT’S VERY HARD FOR PEOPLE IN THIS ROOM TO

UNDERSTAND IF YOU HAVE BEEN AS I HAVE BEEN A PRIVATE PILOT, A

COMMERCIAL PILOT, A FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR FOR 55 YEARS, WHAT IT

WOULD MEAN TO HAVE THAT LICENSE TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU IF THAT

WERE MERELY AT THE WHIMS OF SOME ENFORCEMENT OFFICER IN THE

FIELD. I THINK ALL OF US KNOW WHETHER IT’S — I WAS MAYOR OF

TULSA, NOW AND THEN WE HAD POLICE OFFICERS WHO COULDN’T HANDLE

THE AUTHORITY. THIS HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. CERTAINLY IT HAPPENS

AND WE HEAR A LOT ABOUT IT WITH ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS BROUGHT

ABOUT BY THE F.A.A. SO WHAT HAPPENED TO ME AND I’LL SHARE THAT

WITH YOU, I THINK IT’S VERY IMPORTANT, I HAVE PROBABLY MORE

HOURS THAN MOST OF THE AIRLINE PILOTS HAVE AND I’M STILL VERY

ACTIVE IN AVIATION. I WAS FLYING DOWN TO THE SOUTHERN PART OF

TEXAS. THE FURTHEST SOUTH PART OF TEXAS, WAY DOWN BY

BROWNSVILLE. IT’S CAMERON COUNTY AIRPORT. IT’S PAPA INDIA LIMA

IS THE IDENTIFIER FOR IT. WITH SEVERAL PASSENGERS WITH ME, I

WAS GOING BY THE CONTROLLERS AND THIS IS WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO

DO BUT I ALWAYS DO FOR SAFETY PURPOSES. AND I WENT THROUGH THE

CORPUS CHRISTI APPROACH CONTROL AND HE HANDED ME OFF TO THE

VALLEY APPROACH CONTROL. I WAS GOING INTO A FIELD THAT WAS

UNCONTROLLED. SO THE ONLY CONTROL IS THE VALLEY APPROACH

CONTROL. AND THEY’RE WATCHING ON A SCREEN AND THEY HAVE ALL THE

INFORMATION THEY NEED TO DIRECT YOU AND AUTHORIZE YOU TO DO

THINGS. AND THEY ARE LOOKING FOR TRAFFIC AND YOU’RE SQUAWKING

SO THEY KNOW EXACTLY WHERE WE ARE, HOW HIGH WE ARE AND ALL

THESE THINGS WERE HAPPENING. AGAIN, YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT.

AND AND ON THIS DAY IN OCTOBER, A YEAR AGO OCTOBER, I DIDN’T

HAVE TO DO IT BUT I DID IT ANYMORE. WELL, AS I APPROACHED THE

WINDOWS ALWAYS OUT — THE WIND IS ALWAYS OUT OF THE SOUTH DOWN

THERE AND THE RUNWAY IS 1-3, THAT COORDINATES WITH 130 DEGREES.

AND I’D HAVE TO GO BACK AND LISTEN AGAIN TO THE VOICE RECORDER,

ABOUT A TWO OR THREE-MILE FINAL TO RUN WAY 13, THE CONTROLLER

SAID TWIN CESSNA, YOU ARE CLEARED TO LAND, RUNWAY 13. WHEN YOU

DO THIS, YOU DIRTY UP YOUR PLANE SO YOU CAN LAND. THIS HAPPENS

TO BE A PRETTY SOPHISTICATED TWIN-ENGINE PLANE, YOU LET THE

FLAPS DOWN AND GEARS DOWN AND ALL THAT STUFF. YOU GET TO THE

POINT BEYOND WHICH YOU CAN’T GO AROUND. WHEN I CAME IN TO MAKE

A LANDING, I SAW — I DIDN’T SEE AN X ON THE RUNWAY BECAUSE IT

WASN’T PROMINENT BUT NONETHELESS THERE WAS ONE THERE BUT THERE

WERE SOME WORKERS ON THE FAR EAST SIDE OF THE RUNWAY. NOW, THIS

WAS A 8,000 OR 9,000-FOOT RUN WAY, I ONLY NEED 2,000 FEET SO I

WENT OVER THE WORKERS AND LANDED. IMMEDIATELY THEY SAY THEY GOT

UPSET THAT I LANDED. AND A LOT OF PEOPLE BECAUSE I’M A MEMBER

OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE, THEY STARTED CALLING “THE NEW YORK

TIMES” AND “THE WASHINGTON POST” AND ALL — THEY JUST HAD A

WONDERFUL TIME WITH THIS. AND SO I STARTED LOOKING AT IT AND

TALKING TO THE PEOPLE WHO DO THE ENFORCEMENT ACTION, AND I HAVE

TO SAY THAT THEY WERE GOOD BUT THEY WERE RESPONDING TO A LOT OF

HYSTERICAL PEOPLE WHO QUITE FRANKLY DIDN’T LIKE ME. AND SO THEY

CAME WITH AN ENFORCEMENT ACTION AGAINST ME WHICH MERELY WAS TO

TO GO AROUND THE PATTERN WITH A — WITH A — A DPRIEMPLET

FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR AND SO I DID THIS WITH ONE, I’M ALSO A FLIGHT

INSTRUCTOR AND I HAD GIVEN HIM HIS LICENSE, AS A MATTER OF

FACT. SO I WENT THROUGH THIS PROCEDURE AND EVERYTHING WAS FINE.

HOWEVER, THE PROBLEM WAS THIS: I WAS DENIED ACCESS TO THE

INFORMATION THAT THEY WERE GOING TO USE AGAINST ME. AND WHEN I

TOLD THEM THAT I WAS CLEARED TO LAND BY A CONTROLLER, IT TOOK

ME, A UNITED STATES SENATOR, FOUR MONTHS TO GET THE VOICE

RECORDING TO PROVE THAT I WAS RIGHT. SECONDLY, THERE’S A THING

CALLED NOTICE TO AIRMEN. NOTAMS ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE BE

PUBLISHED, AND YOU LOOK THROUGH YOUR RESOURCES, AS I ALWAYS DO,

TO SEE IF THERE ARE NOTAMS ON THE RUNWAYS. WHEN I GO ON

WEEKENDS, I’LL NORMALLY FLY — OH, GOSH I’LL BE AT FIVE OR SIX

DIFFERENT TOWNS BUT I LOOK UP THE NOTAMS. I HAD DONE THAT. NONE

AT CAMERON COUNTY AIRPORT, WE CHECKED AFTERWARDS, WE NEVER

COULD FIND ANY, NO ONE SAYS THERE WERE NOTAMS NOW. NUMBER ONE,

WAS CLEARED TO LAND, AND NO NOTAMS THAT WERE PUBLISHED. WHAT

THEY COULD HAVE DONE IS TAKE MY LICENSE AWAY. AND IT DOESN’T

MEAN MUCH TO PEOPLE LISTENING RIGHT NOW BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT

PILOTS. BUT IT MEANS A LOT TO THE 400,000 MEMBERS OF THE AOPA

WHO ARE WATCHING US RIGHT NOW, AND TO THE 175,000 PILOTS,

GENERAL AVIATION PILOTS WITH THE EAA, EXPERIMENTAL AIRCRAFT

ASSOCIATION WHO ARE WATCHING US RIGHT NOW. THEY KNOW THAT THEY

COULD AT THE WHIMS OF ONE BUREAUCRAT COULD LOSE THEIR LICENSE.

SO ANYWAY, I CAME BACK AND DRAFTED LEGISLATION AND I HAVE TO

SAY THIS WAS WAY BACK IN A YEAR AGO NOW, JULY 6 OF 2011,

INTRODUCED A BILL WITH 25 COSPONSORS THAT WOULD CORRECT — DO

THREE THINGS VERY SIMPLY. NUMBER ONE, IT WOULD LET THE ACCUSED

HAVE ACCESS TO ALL RELEVANT EVIDENCE WITHIN 30 DAYS PRIOR TO A

DECISION TO PROCEED WITH AN ENFORCEMENT ACTION. NUMBER TWO, IT

WOULD ALLOW THE — THE ACCUSED TO GO HAVE ACCESS TO THE FEDERAL

COURTS, AS IT IS RIGHT NOW, THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY

BOARD, IT GOES TO THEM, THEY RUBBER STAMP WHATEVER THE F.A.A.

DOES IN FISCAL YEAR 10 THERE WERE 61 APPEALS AND OF THAT ONLY

FIVE WERE REVERSED. OF THE 24 PETITIONS IN 2010, SEEKING REVIEW

FOR EMERGENCY DETERMINATIONS, ONLY ONE, ONLY ONE WAS GRANTED.

AND 23 WERE DENIED. IT’S A RUBBER STAMP. ASK ANY PILOT THAT YOU

CAN FIND AND THEY’LL TELL YOU THAT’S WHAT IT IS. AND SO THIS

WAY THEY WOULD HAVE ACCESS TO THE FEDERAL COURT SYSTEM. IT’S

NOT GOING TO HAPPEN BECAUSE I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT INSPECTOR IN

THE FIELD, ENFORCEMENT OFFICER IN THE FIELD IS NOT GOING TO PUT

HIS REPUTATION ON THE LINE TO — TO KNOWING THAT SOMEONE IS

GOING TO BE LOOKING AND A SENSE OF FAIRNESS. THE DISTRICT COURT

DOESN’T HAVE TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT PILOTING AN AIRPLANE. IT’S

JUST A FAIRNESS ISSUE AND IN MY CASE THEY WOULD HAVE LOOKED AT

THIS AND SAID WAIT A MINUTE YOU WERE CLEARED TO LAND BY THE

F.A.A., NO NOTAMS PUBLISHED, WHAT DID YOU DO WRONG?

I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING BE WRONG. THAT IS WHERE THEY COME IN. AND

IT WOULD MAKE SURE THAT FLIGHT SERVICE STATION COMMUNICATIONS

ARE AVAILABLE TO ALL AIRMEN. THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE BUT IF IT

TOOK ME FOUR MONTHS AND I’M A UNITED STATES SENATOR TO GET A

VOICE RECORDING TO SHOW I WAS CLEARED TO LAND, WHAT ABOUT

SOMEBODY WHO IS NOT A UNITED STATES SENATOR?

WHAT ABOUT SOMEBODY WHO WOULD BE INTIMIDATED TO THE POINT THAT

WOULD LOSE HIS LICENSE?

THE SECOND THING THIS DOES, IT FORCES THE NOTICE, THE NOTICE TO

AIRMEN, TO BE PUT IN A PLACE WHERE THEY ARE VISIBLE, A CENTRAL

LOCATION, AND THE THIRD THING IT DOES, THERE IS A PROBLEM. IF

YOU TALK TO THE AIRCRAFT OWNERS AND PILOTS ASSOCIATION, OF ALL

THE PROBLEMS THAT THEY GET CALLED TO THEIR ATTENTION, 23% OF –

28% OF ALL THE REQUESTS FOR ASSISTANCE RECEIVED BY THEM RELATE

TO THE MEDICAL CERTIFICATION PROCESS. IN OTHER WORDS, SOMEONE

MIGHT LOSE HIS MEDICAL AND TAKE AND FIND HE’S DIRECT CRECTED

ANY KIND OF PHYSICAL PROBLEM AND WANT TO GET IT BACK AND THEY

GET IT BACK. HOWEVER IF HE HAPPENS TO LIVE IN A DIFFERENT TOWN

AND THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF THESE DOCTORS THAT DO THIS, THERE’S

NO UNIFORMITY BETWEEN IT. IT SETS UP A PROCESS OR HELPS

FACILITATE SETTING UP A PROCESS BY HAVING GENERAL AVIATION,

HAVING THE F.A.A., HAVING THE NTSB, HAVING EVERYONE WHO IS

RELEVANT AND INTERESTED IN THIS TO LOOK AT — LOOK AT AND

COORDINATE THE MEDICAL CERTIFICATION PROCESS. THAT’S

ESSENTIALLY IT, MADAM PRESIDENT. I’M PREPARED TO GO INTO A LOT

OF DETAIL. I KNOW THAT I NOW HAVE 66 COSPONSORS IN THIS BODY. I

COULD HAVE HAD A LOT MORE, WE QUID AFTER WE GOT TWO-THIRDS, I

THINK EVERYONE KNOWS THAT’S NORMALLY WHAT DO YOU. AND I DO KNOW

THAT WE MAY HAVE ONE OBJECTION TO THIS UNANIMOUS CONSENT

REQUEST. BUT I’M GOING TO MAKE IT NOW AS IF IN LEGISLATIVE

SESSION I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THE SENATE PROCEED TO THE

IMMEDIATE CONSIDERATION OF CALENDAR NUMBER 422 S.3268, THAT

THE BILL BE READ A THIRD TIME AND PASSED, THE MOTION TO

RECONSIDER BE LAID UPON THE TABLE, AND THAT ANY STATEMENTS

RELATING TO THE BILL APPEAR AT THIS POINT IN THE RECORD.

{13:12:20 NSP} (THE PRESIDING OFFICER) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: IS THERE OBJECTION?

{13:12:21 NSP} (MR. ROCKEFELLER) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

MR. ROCKEFELLER: MADAM PRESIDENT?

{13:12:24 NSP} (THE PRESIDING OFFICER) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM WEST VIRGINIA.

 

13:12:27 NSP} (MR. ROCKEFELLER) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

MR. ROCKEFELLER: RESERVING THE RIGHT TO OBJECT. FIRST OF ALL, I

KNOW THIS BILL IS VERY IMPORTANT TO THE SENATOR WHO IS OFFERING

IT AND I UNDERSTAND THAT AND I RESPECT THE SENATOR AND HE’S A

GOOD SENATOR. BUT THIS — THIS REALLY, MY OBJECTION IS NOT

BASED SO MUCH ON WHAT HE SAID BUT IT’S BASED ON THE WHOLE

CONCEPT OF PUBLIC SAFETY. THIS IS ABOUT PUBLIC SAFETY. WE

SHOULD NOT HAVE TO WORRY THAT POTENTIALLY UNQUALIFIED PILOTS

ARE IN THE AIR. WE HAVE SO MANY TENS OF THOUSANDS OF AIRPLANES

IN THE AIR EVERY HOUR OF EVERY DAY. THIS BILL WOULD CREATE A

PROCESS WHICH WOULD BE NEW THAT COULD RESULT IN THE FEDERAL

GOVERNMENT BEING UNABLE TO PURSUE ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS BECAUSE

OF LIMITED RESOURCES. IT’S A FACT OF LIFE THESE DAYS. F.A.A.

HAS TO CUT WAY BACK. OR HAVING TO ADDRESS OTHER MANDATED

PRIORITIES WHICH ARE PERHAPS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THIS ONE. AND

THAT COULD VERY WELL MEAN THAT THE F.A.A. AND THE NTSB, THE

NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD, WHICH ARE ULTIMATELY

RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING DECISIONS ABOUT WHETHER PILOTS WHO HAVE

VIOLATED AVIATION REGULATIONS COULD BE BARRED FROM TAKING

ACTIONS TO PREVENT UNSAFE PILOTS FROM CONTINUING TO FLY. THAT’S

HEAVY WATER. THAT COULD HAVE SERIOUS SAFETY CONSEQUENCES.

ACCORDING TO THE F.A.A. IN SOME CASES WHICH WOULD TYPICALLY

WARRANT REVOCATION OF A PILOT’S LICENSE, SOME UNQUALIFIED

PILOTS WOULD BE ABLE TO AVOID LOSING THEIR CERTIFICATES BY

AVOIDING F.A.A. PROSECUTION OF THE MATTER BEFORE THE IN THE SB.

THIS BILL — IN THE SB. THIS WILL — NTSB. THIS WOULD STAND THE

ENFORCEMENT STRUCTURE ON ITS HEAD AND AS A RESULT I DO OBJECT.

{13:14:19 NSP} (THE PRESIDING OFFICER) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: OBJECTION IS HEARD. MR. INHOFE: MADAM

PRESIDENT?

 

{13:14:23 NSP} (THE PRESIDING OFFICER) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM OKLAHOMA.

{13:14:28 NSP} (MR. INHOFE) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

MR. INHOFE: LET ME RESPOND. THIS HAS NO WAY — IN NO WAY

ANYTHING TO DO WITH SAFETY. THE FIRST ASH TRAITDOR IS –

ARBITRATOR IS THE F.A.A. WHEN WE HAVE A CHANCE TO ALMOST ALL

THE SENATORS IN THIS BODY, WE’VE TALKED ABOUT SAFETY, WE HAD A

HEARING AT OSHKOSH ABOUT THE SAFETY. THE AIR TRAFFIC

CONTROLLERS SUPPORT ME IN THIS. THEY’RE THE ONES CONCERNED WITH

SAFETY. I WOULD JUST SAY I DON’T AGREE WITH THAT ARGUMENT BUT I

RESPECT THE SENATOR FROM WEST VIRGINIA.

{13:14:58 NSP} (THE PRESIDING OFFICER) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM TEXAS.

{13:15:00 NSP} (MRS. HUTCHISON) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

MRS. HUTCHISON: MADAM PRESIDENT, I TOO OBJECT,

THAT I HAVE BEEN ON THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD,

AND I KNOW WELL THE KINDS OF CASES THAT ARE PILOTS LICENSE

REVOCATIONS AND THE NTSB PROCESS FOR APPEALS OF THOSE. AND I

UNDERSTAND SENATOR INHOFE ‘S EXPLANATION FOR WHAT HAPPENED WITH

HIM THAT IS IN SOMEWHAT OF A DISAGREEMENT WITH SOME OF THE

REPORTING OF THAT INCIDENT. AND I THINK — I CERTAINLY

UNDERSTAND THE SENATOR FROM OKLAHOMA’S LONGTIME RECORD OF BEING

A PILOT, AND I RESPECT THAT VERY MUCH. BUT I’M AFRAID THAT WHAT

HE’S NOT TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION IS MOST CERTAINLY A SAFETY

ISSUE. WE HAVE TASKED THE F.A.A. WITH AIR SAFETY, AND WE HAVE

GIVEN THEM THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR REVOKING PILOTS’ LICENSES

WHEN THERE IS A NEED TO DO THAT IN THEIR OPINION, WHETHER IT BE

FOR VIOLATION OF LANDING ON A RUNWAY THAT HAD AN “X” WHICH

PILOTS KNOW MEANS THAT RUNWAY CANNOT BE USED AT THAT TIME. AS

HAPPENED WITH SENATOR INHOFE’S CASE, HE IS SAYING THAT HE HAD A

CLEARANCE, BUT THE “X” WAS THERE, AND THE F.A.A. CITED HIM FOR

THAT AND DID NOT REVOKE HIS PILOT’S LICENSE AT ALL. BUT YET

HE’S COMING FORWARD WITH A BILL THAT NOT ONLY ADDRESSES SOME OF

HIS LEGITIMATE CONCERNS, WHICH I AGREE WITH, BUT ALSO GOES

BEYOND THAT TO SAY THAT WHEN THE F.A.A., WITH ITS EXPERTISE AND

ITS MISSION THAT IS GIVEN TO IT BY CONGRESS TO PROVIDE FOR

SAFETY AND REVOKES A PRIVATE PILOT’S LICENSE OR COMMERCIAL

PILOT’S LICENSE OR AVIATION MECHANIC’S LICENSE THAT THEY WOULD

THEN NOT HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE APPELLATE PROCESS WITH THE

NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD, WHICH IS THE APPELLATE

AUTHORITY, WHICH ALSO HAS THE EXPERTISE AND THE EXPERIENCE TO

KNOW WHEN A REVOCATION WOULD BE QUESTIONABLE OR IF THE F.A.A.

WAS RIGHT. THEY HAVE THE PILOTS, THEY HAVE THE EXPERTISE TO

MAKE THOSE DECISIONS. AND THEY THEN, AFTER THE NTSB APPEAL HAVE

THE RIGHT TO GO TO FEDERAL COURT IF THEY SO CHOOSE. WHAT

SENATOR INHOFE’S BILL DOES IS TAKE AWAY THE NTSB PORTION OF THE

APPEALS PROCESS. NOW LET ME SAY THAT I HAVE OFFERED TO SENATOR

INHOFE, BECAUSE HE KNEW THAT I OBJECTED TO THIS BILL, TO DO

EVERYTHING IN HIS BILL THAT HE HAS ADDRESSED. THE OPENNESS, THE

REQUIREMENT THAT AN ENFORCEMENT ACTION THAT THE F.A.A. WOULD

GRANT THE PILOT ALL THE RELEVANT EVIDENCE IN 30 DAYS PRIOR TO A

DECISION, THAT IT WOULD CLARIFY THE STATUTORY DEFERENCE AS IT

RELATES TO NTSB. NTSB IS NOT A RUBBER STAMP AT ALL. I THINK

THEY HAVE BEEN FAIR WITH THEIR EXPERTISE. F.A.A. HAS THE

RESPONSIBILITY FOR AVIATION SAFETY. REQUIRING THE F.A.A. TO

UNDERTAKE A NOTICE TO AIRMEN IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM, I THINK IS

CERTAINLY LEGITIMATE. MAKING FLIGHT SERVICE STATION

COMMUNICATIONS AVAILABLE TO ALL AIRMEN IS A LEGITIMATE PIECE OF

THIS LEGISLATION. WHAT I OBJECT TO AND HAVE ASKED SENATOR

INHOFE TO LET US WORK TOGETHER TO DO IS NOT TO BYPASS NTSB, BUT

TO LET THE APPELLATE PROCESS GO FORWARD AND THEN AT THE END, IF

THERE IS STILL A FEELING OF UNFAIRNESS ON THE PART OF THE

PILOT, THAT THEY WOULD HAVE ACCESS TO THE FEDERAL COURTS. THEY

CAN DO THAT NOW. SO I THINK THAT SENATOR INHOFE INSISTING ON

BYPASSING NTSB IS HOLDING UP THE GOOD PARTS OF HIS BILL BECAUSE

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT, IN MY OPINION, THAT WE KEEP THE KPER

TEASE FOR THE SAFETY — EXPERTISE FOR THE SAFETY IN THE SKIES

WHERE IT IS IN THE F.A.A., THE IN THE IT BE AND THEN THE

FEDERAL COURTS IF RIGHTS ARE VIOLATED. IN 2011, THE NTSB HAD

350 APPEALS CASES FOR ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES, AND THE NUMBER

WAS SIMILAR IN 2011. CASES ARE TYPICALLY DISPOSED OF IN 90 TO

120 DAYS, SO THERE’S NOT A LONG LAG TIME IN WHICH THE PILOT

DOESN’T HAVE THE ACCESS TO HIS OR HER LICENSE. THE NTSB HELD 62

APPEALS HEARINGS IN 2011 AND 36 CASES WENT TO THE FULL BOARD.

THE BREAKDOWN OF THE CASES WAS PRIVATE PILOTS, 48%. MECHANICS

– AIRLINE MECHANICS OR AVIATION MECHANICS 13%. COMMERCIAL

PILOTS 6%. AIR CARRIERS 8%. AND MEDICAL WAS 25%. NOW MADAM

PRESIDENT, I — SENATOR ROCKEFELLER AND I, AS THE RELEVANT

CHAIRMAN AND RANKING ON THE COMMERCE COMMITTEE, HAVE AGREED TO

HAVE A HEARING ON SENATOR INHOFE’S BILL SO THAT THIS COULD BE

FULLY VETTED. AND MOST CERTAINLY I HAVE ON MANY OCCASIONS

OFFERED TO WORK WITH SENATOR INHOFE TO GET THE NOTIFICATION

REQUIREMENTS, THE OPENNESS REQUIREMENTS, EVERY PART OF HIS BILL

THAT WOULD REQUIRE REFORMS OF THE PROCESS FOR FAIRNESS TO THE

PILOTS, I WOULD AGREE WITH AND WORK TO HELP HIM PASS. BUT

TAKING OUT THE NTSB AND GOING DIRECTLY TO FEDERAL COURTS I

THINK IS NOT NECESSARY, AND I THINK IT WILL RURT AVIATION

SAFETY. NOW I ALSO BELIEVE THAT A DIFFERENT EXTRANEOUS ISSUE IS

THAT OUR FEDERAL COURTS ARE PRETTY CLOGGED ALREADY AND THE

FEDERAL COURTS DO NOT HAVE PILOTS LICENSES ON THEIR STAFF

CLERKSHIP ROLLS TO A GREAT EXTENT. MAYBE THEY HAPPEN TO BE, BUT

THEY DON’T HAVE THE FAMILIARITY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF F.A.A.

AND THE ISSUES THAT F.A.A. LOOKS AT. SO — AND THEY DO HAVE

ACCESS TO FEDERAL COURTS IN THE END, ANYWAY. BUT THE NTSB PART

I THINK IS IMPORTANT SO THAT THE EXPERIENCED PILOTS IN THE NTSB

HAVE THE APPELLATE AUTHORITY AS THEY DO NOW TO DECIPHER WHAT

HAPPENED WITH THE F.A.A. AND DETERMINE IF FAIRNESS WAS GIVEN TO

THE PILOT. BUT ALSO TO HELP DETERMINE IF THAT PILOT’S

REVOCATION WOULD ENDANGER AVIATION SAFETY, WHICH IS NOT A ROLE

FOR THE FEDERAL COURTS. SO, SENATOR ROCKEFELLER AND I DO

OBJECT. I HOLD MY HAND OUT TO SENATOR INHOFE TO WORK WITH HIM

ON THE NOTIFICATION AND FAIRNESS ISSUES IN HIS BILL, WHICH I

SUPPORT. I JUST DON’T THINK BYPASSING THE EXPERTISE AND ADDING

ANOTHER BURDEN TO THE FEDERAL COURTS, WHERE THEY DO NOT HAVE

THE EXPERTISE IS IN ANYONE’S BEST INTEREST IN THIS COUNTRY. AND

I’M HAPPY TO WORK WITH ANYONE INTERESTED IN THIS ISSUE AND HOPE

THAT WE CAN RESOLVE IT.

 

{13:23:54 NSP} (MR. INHOFE) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

MR. INHOFE: MADAM PRESIDENT?

 

MR. INHOFE: MADAM PRESIDENT, I THINK IT WOULD BE REDUNDANT OF

ME TO GO BACK AND REPEAT WHAT I SAID BEFORE, BUT THE SENATOR

FROM TEXAS TALKED ABOUT THE “X” ON THE RUNWAY. I HAVE MADE IT

VERY CLEAR THAT BY THE TIME YOU CAN SEE THE “X” ON THE RUNWAY

WHEN YOU’RE CLEARED TO LAND AND YOU HAVE A SOPHISTICATED PLANE

WITH FULL PASSENGERS, YOU CAN’T — THERE IS A POINT BEYOND

WHICH YOU CAN’T GO IN TERMS OF AFTER YOUR PLANE IS DIRTIED UP

MAKING A GO-ROUND. OBVIOUSLY IT WASN’T NECESSARY ANYWAY BECAUSE

I HAD 7000 FEET OF EMPTY FEET TO GO AROUND. THAT’S NOT THE

POINT. THAT’S NOT THE POINT BECAUSE THAT’S NOT THE ISSUE. I

RECOGNIZE, AND I RESPECT SENATOR HUTCHISON AND THE FACT THAT

SHE WAS ON THE NTSB, AND I KNOW THAT THAT OBVIOUSLY IS

MEANINGFUL TO HER. AND CERTAINLY SENATOR ROCKEFELLER. WHAT

WE’RE DEALING WITH HERE IS WE HAVE A COMMITTEE — AND I HAVE A

LOT OF RESPECT FOR THE COMMITTEE. SENATOR ROCKEFELLER IS THE

CHAIRMAN. SENATOR HUTCHISON IS THE RANKING MEMBER AND THIS

COMMITTEE IS THE COMMITTEE OF JURISDICTION. WHAT DID I DO?

I INTRODUCE THIS HAD BILL A YEAR AGO. I TALKED ABOUT THAT. WE

HAD 25 COSPONSORS AT THAT TIME. WE HAD ENDORSEMENTS FROM ALL

OVER THE COUNTRY. WE HAD THE NATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS

CAME IN. WE SENT OUT DEAR COLLEAGUE’S AND TALKED TO PEOPLE. WE

SENT A LETTER TO THE COMMITTEE, THE CONGRESS COMMITTEE THAT

SENATOR HUTCHISON WAS ON AT THAT TIME REQUESTING A HEARING.

MADAM PRESIDENT, WE HAD 32 COSPONSORS SIGNING THAT LETTER

REQUESTING A HEARING, SOME OF WHICH ARE THE ON THE COMMERCE

COMMITTEE. NOTHING HAPPENED. SEPTEMBER 20, AS THE MONTHS GO BY,

WE’VE MADE MORE AND MORE REQUESTS. WE’VE TALKED ABOUT THIS. AND

EVERY TIME THEY SAY WE’RE GOING TO BE DOING THIS. YOU FINALLY

GET TO THE POINT WHERE YOU HAVE TO GO AHEAD AND GET IT DONE.

AND THAT’S WHY WE HAVE A RULE 14. AND I’M NOT A

PARLIAMENTARIAN. I DON’T KNOW EXACTLY HOW THINGS WORK. I

REMEMBER I HAD EXPERIENCE WITH THEY WHEN — WITH THIS WHEN I

STARTED HERE. WHEN SOMETHING IS BOGGED UP — IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN

BUSINESS DAILY. AS THE GREATEST-SINGLE REFORM IN THE HISTORY OF

THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. AND ADDRESSED THIS

SAME THING. IT WAS A WAY OF BOTTLING UP BILLS IN COMMITTEES SO

THEY COULD NEVER HAVE HEARINGS, TO NEVER BE ABLE TO GET ON THE

FLOOR FOR A VOTE. THAT DISCHARGE PETITION REFORM BECAME A

REALITY. AND NOW THE LIGHT IS SHINING AND EVERYTHING IS GREAT,

BUT WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN TRYING AND TRYING TO GET A HEARING

BEFORE A COMMITTEE FOR A YEAR AND YOU HAVE 66 COSPONSORS, YOU

HAVE TO RESORT TO WHATEVER IS OUT THERE AVAILABLE TO YOU FOR A

REMEDY. THAT REMEDY HAPPENS TO BE RULE 14. RULE 14 WILL ALLOW

ME TO DO THIS. IN THE EVENT THEY CONTINUE, TWO PEOPLE ARE

HOLDING THE BILL UP. THAT’S SENATOR ROCKEFELLER AND SENATOR

HUTCHISON. IN THE EVENT THAT THEY CONTINUE TO DO THAT, I WILL

HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO FILE CLOTURE AND TO GO AHEAD AND GET A

VOTE ON THIS BILL, RECOGNIZING IT TAKES A SUPERMAJORITY WHEN

YOU FILE CLOTURE. I WOULD DO THAT. I HAVE A LOT OF THINGS, I

GUESS, I DIDN’T THINK WE WOULD GET INTO THIS. ONE IS THE –

GIVE ME THE ARTICLE FROM THE AOPA. THAT’S BY JOHN YOUTIS. I

HAVE AN ARTICLE WHICH I WILL FIND HERE IN A MINUTE AND WE’LL

SUBMIT THIS FOR THE RECORD. I THINK IT’S VERY IMPORTANT.

{13:27:51 NSP} (THE PRESIDING OFFICER) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION.

{13:27:56 NSP} (MR. INHOFE) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

MR. INHOFE: IT GOES INTO DETAILS DOCUMENTARY CASES WHERE THEY

HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO GET FAIRNESS THROUGH THIS SYSTEM. HOW MANY

CASES WOULD ULTIMATELY GO TO THE DISTRICT COURT?

I THINK VERY FEW: IDEA THAT THAT’S GOING TO BE AN OPPORTUNITY

FOR A PILOT TO TAKE WHAT HE’S ACCUSED OF TO THE DISTRICT COURT

TO SEE IT IN A SENSE OF FAIRNESS, IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW

MANY PILOTS ARE SITTING ON THAT DISTRICT COURT. IT’S A SENSE OF

FAIRNESS. THAT’S WHAT THEY DEAL WITH. IN THE DISTRICT COURT

SYSTEM THESE PEOPLE DON’T HAVE EXPERTISE IN ALL THESE AREAS.

BUT IN MY CASE, IF THEY LOOKED AT THAT AND SAID IF THE F.A.A.

LOOKED AT THAT, THERE’S NOTHING WRONG. HE DIDN’T DO ANYTHING

WRONG. IT FINALLY GETS TO THE POINT. I’VE BEEN VERY PATIENTED.

I’VE WAIT ADD YEAR, A WHOLE — I’VE WAITED A YEAR, A WHOLE YEAR

FOR THIS. FINALLY I’VE COME TO THE POINT WHERE I’VE GIVEN UP. I

DECIDED WE’RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO IT THIS WAY. IT’S CLEARLY THE

WILL OF THE SENATE TO PASS THIS LEGISLATION. WITH THAT, I DO

HAVE SOME THINGS I WANT TO PUT INTO THE RECORD. I HAVE, FIRST

OF ALL, THE SEQUENCE OF EVENTS, THE REQUEST THAT WE MADE OF THE

COMMERCE COMMITTEE TO HEAR THIS LEGISLATION. I HAVE A, AN

ARTICLE THAT WAS IN “PILOTS” MAGAZINE BY JOHN YOUTIS WHO IS

CONSIDERED TO BE THE SINGLE FOREMOST LEGAL AUTHORITY IN THESE

AREAS. IF THE PRINT WERE A LITTLE LARGER, I WOULD READ SOME OF

THIS. IT TALKS ABOUT THE DECISIONS THE CURRENT NTSB CAUSES US

TO QUESTION ITS FAIRNESS AND IMPARTIALITY IN PILOT APPEALS. HE

TALKS ABOUT THE NOTICES THAT HAVE GONE OUT AND THE PROBZ THEY

HAVE HAD WITH THIS — AND THE PROBLEMS THEY HAVE HAD WITH THIS.

{13:29:52 NSP} (THE PRESIDING OFFICER) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION.

{13:29:56 NSP} (MR. INHOFE) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

MR. INHOFE: WITH THE 400,000 PILOTS INTERESTED IN THIS –

ACTUALLY WELL OVER THAT — JUST THOSE WHO ARE INVOLVED IN THIS

PRO SET RIGHT NOW, THEY HAVE HAD CUMENTARY CASES WHERE THE FAIRNESS IS NOT THERE. THAT’S ALL

THAT WE’RE ASKING, JUST TO BE TREATED FAIR, LIKE EVERY OTHER

CITIZEN IN THE UNITED STATES. I YIELD THE FLOOR. MS.–

{13:30:21 NSP} (MRS. HUTCHISON) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

MRS. HUTCHISON: MR. PRESIDENT, ON THE POINT OF THE HEARING,

SENATOR ROCKEFELLER AND I HAVE AGREED CERTAINLY WITH SENATOR

INHOFE TO HOLD A HEARING, WHICH WE NOTIFIED SENATOR INHOFE THAT

WE WOULD. I WOULD EXPECT IT TO BE NEXT MONTH FOR THE HEARING

SCHEDULE. I JUST HOPE THAT w — AND I JUST HOPE THAT WE CAN

PASS A GOOD PART OF HIS BILL, WHICH I’D LIKE TO WORK WITH HIM

ON. BUT I THINK THAT THE MOTIVATION HERE SHOULD BE SAFETY AND

ASSURING SAFETY, AND I KNOW THE PERSONAL CONFLICT THAT SENATOR

INHOFE HAS WITH WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM, AND I’M SYMPATHETIC, BUT

I DON’T THINK THAT PASSING LEGISLATION THAT COULD HURT THE

AVIATION SAFETY COMMUNITY IS THE RIGHT APPROACH TO MEET THE

OBJECTIONS THAT SENATOR INHOFE HAS. I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE A

HEARING AND HAVE ALL OF THE WITNESSES THAT HE WOULD PUT

FORWARD, AND LET’S GET THE OBJECTIVE LOOK AT WHAT THIS WOULD DO

TO TAKING THE EXPERTISE AND THE MISSION FROM F.A.A. AND ALLOW

IT TO BE BYPASSED AT NTSB LEVEL AND GO TO FEDERAL COURTS, WHERE

THERE IS NOT THE EXPERIENCE AND THE AVIATION SAFETY MISSION

THAT IS, I THINK, WELL-PROTECTED TODAY. SO I HOPE THAT WE CAN

WORK TOGETHER ON THIS, AND I UNDERSTAND HIS FRUSTRATION, BUT I

DON’T THINK THIS IS THE RIGHT SOLUTION FOR WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM

WITH ONE INCIDENT. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT.

{13:32:13 NSP} (THE PRESIDING OFFICER) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM OKLAHOMA.

{13:32:15 NSP} (MR. INHOFE) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

MR. INHOFE: FIRST OF ALL, I’M NOT AWARE THAT I WAS OFFERED A

HEARING. BUT LET ME JUST MAKE SURE I HAVE IN THE RECORD A

LETTER, SEPTEMBER 15 OF 2011 — THAT WAS, WHAT, NINE MONTHS AGO

– SIGNED BY 32 MEMBERS OF THIS SENATE, INCLUDING THE OCCUPIER

OF THE CHAIR RIGHT NOW, THE SENATOR FROM WEST VIRGINIA. AND I

DON’T THINK ANYONE IS GOING TO SAY THAT WE HAVEN’T DONE

EVERYTHING WE COULD TO GO THROUGH THE PROCESS, THE COMMITTEE

PROCESS, TO GET A HEARING. I JUST FLAT GAVE UP. AND THAT’S WHY

WE HAVE THIS RULE. AND SO I WILL BE LOOKING FORWARD TO TAKING

THE NEXT STEPS, AND I KNOW THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE OUT THERE

THAT WANT TO HAVE THIS TYPE OF JUSTICE AFFORDED THE PILOTS OF

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, THE SAME AS EVERY OTHER CITIZEN

ENJOYS. WITH — I APPRECIATE THE PATIENCE OF THE COMMITTEE

BECAUSE I KNOW WE HAVE OTHER BUSINESS. AND I YIELD THE FLOOR.

 

 

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