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Congresswoman Harriet Hageman Introduces Bill To Protect Pilots

Representative Harriet Hageman

Congresswoman Harriet Hageman (R-WY) is introducing the Backcountry Aviation Protection Act, which provides protection for certified pilots performing established training and FAA-recommended safety maneuvers to prepare for off-airport landings.

Current FAA regulations only allow pilots to break minimum altitude restrictions for takeoff or landing, leaving pilots who abort landings for safety reasons at risk of legal penalties and prosecution. H.R. 7660 ensures that bush pilots are able to perform low-altitude inspection passes of potential remote landing zones – a maneuver recommended by the FAA – as well as common training maneuvers like go-arounds, practice approaches, and instrument approaches, by including these maneuvers in the FAA’s minimum altitude exceptions list.

Rep. Hageman stated, “Bush flying is a well-established industry that is vital to isolated communities across the American West, and bush pilots are responsible for safely operating their aircraft to protect their passengers and plane. The Backcountry Aviation Protection Act will give pilots reassurance that they can abort an unsafe off-airport landing without worrying that the FAA will try to take away their license and will ensure that pilots are able to regularly practice the maneuvers needed for safe flight without fear of FAA enforcement action.

“This bill prevents pilots from being penalized for ensuring the safety of their aircraft and passengers and corrects the FAA’s absurd regulatory overreach that far exceeds the intent of current law,” Hageman says in a media release.


  • A recent FAA enforcement action ruling could result in legal action against pilots who perform inspection passes over potential off-airport landing zones. The FAA’s own Off Airport Ops Guide recommends that pilots make these passes when deciding on a landing zone.
  • FAA regulations (14 C.F.R. § 91.119) prescribe the minimum flight altitudes for aircraft but only except takeoffs and landings from these altitudes, meaning pilots who make an inspection pass but do not land are liable to action, even if the landing zone is not safe to land. Essentially, the FAA requires pilots to prove a zone is safe to land before inspection.
  • Maneuvers like “go arounds” (i.e. practicing an aborted landing) or “practice missed approaches” are also in danger, as by nature a pilot does not intend to actually land. As such they are liable to enforcement actions despite being an essential part of flight training and safe operation of an aircraft.
  • Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC) has introduced a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.




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