ALPA Opposes GA Medical-Reform Effort
EAA leadership was fuming at AirVenture on Saturday morning, as they dealt with a last-minute, unexpected letter from the Air Line Pilots Association sent to members of Congress, opposing the Pilots’ Bill of Rights 2 now under consideration — with a vote in the Senate expected as soon as Tuesday. ALPA cited concerns over safety if the bill, which would allow GA pilots to self-certify under most circumstances, were to pass. “This is an out-and-out attack to derail the bill,” EAA Chairman Jack Pelton said at an impromptu news conference at Oshkosh on Saturday morning. “We think it’s unconscionable, and unfair to the GA public.” Pelton and the EAA staffers quickly worked to rally the troops at AirVenture to call their senators on Monday to let them know the bill is important to them.
At a forum with Sen. William Inhofe and Rep. Sam Graves, who have been big supporters of the bill, Pelton said the letter from ALPA is a “major blow and setback, in the last 24 hours … this is our most critical time … we need to work hard to correct this. We’re in a fight … and we’re not going to let this [legislation] die.” Graves also weighed in that “the ALPA issues are completely baseless … Why are they even weighing in? Why do they have a dog in this fight?” Other unions, including the Allied Pilots Association and the Southwest Airline Pilots Association, which represent airline pilots, have expressed support for the bill. ALPA offered no details or facts to support its position, according to the speakers at the forum.
In its letter, a copy of which was forwarded to AVweb by EAA, ALPA said it is “fundamentally opposed to the dangerous policy shift” embodied in the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 legislation, adding, “ALPA has grave concerns with how this amendment addresses the 3rd class medical requirement for general aviation pilots … This legislation has the potential to allow medically unfit pilots unfettered access to the national airspace at altitudes up to 18,000 feet, which also includes commercial airline traffic carrying passengers and cargo.” The legislation will go to a vote on Tuesday if 60 senators sign on; so far, EAA officials said on Saturday, the bill has 56 supporters. If any of those senators are swayed by the ALPA letter, the vote could be derailed.