MPA LEGISLATION REPORT
GREETINGS! First, Here's an update from Washington, D.C. Marion Blakey was approved by the U.S. Senate in
September to become the new FAA Administrator, succeeding Jane Garvey, who completed her fixed five-year term in
August. Monte Belger, who had been serving as the acting Administrator, retired.
At her confirmation hearing Blakey, who is coming to FAA from the National Transportation Safety Board, told Senators that she would emphasize safety during her administration, leaving her with the task of assessing and implementing safety recommendations made by NTSB. In the past, FAA has balked at various NTSB recommendations due to cost and other considerations.
Secondly, The Senate Commerce Committee in September passed the Aviation Security Improvement Act (S.2949). It would permit the Transportation Security Administration to delay by up to a year implementation of explosive detection systems at up to 40 airports, while also calling for establishment of a TSA inspection program for cargo. During the Commerce Committee hearings on the legislation, TSA under Secretary James Loy agreed that there may be due cause for such delays at a limited numbers of airports.
However, several Senators, most notably Senator John McCain (R-AZ), opposed any EDS extension.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Committee also attached amendments to the proposed legislation that would expand background check requirements to all foreign student pilots in the U.S while also restrict FAA from issuing waivers for temporary flight restrictions over stadiums and other open air events for at least six more months.
Thirdly, DOT Inspector General Ken Mead, a keynote speaker at NAC, agrees that there are signals that the TSA is now more amenable to working airports, but says critical time was lost because of the agency's initial ignoring or mistrust of the airport community. "There's been an awakening of sorts," he comments.
Mead continues to caution, as he has since 9/11, about unrealistic cost estimates of what it is going to take to secure the U.S. aviation system- i.e., who pays, how much, and from where exactly the money is going to come. He is skeptical about the creation of a Department of Homeland Security as the answer to the funding question, and foresees the Airport Improvement Program as a potential target as trust fund monies lessen the FAA expenses increase "exponentially."
Regarding the funding reauthorization battle that will take place in the next year as AIR-21 expires 2003, Mead predicts that the debate will only become fuzzier and Congress grapples the providing monies for Homeland Security and DOT, which will also be seeking reauthorization for surface transportation. "Start getting ready to deal with two big agencies," he says.
The IG also calls for industry and politicians to not lose site of capacity needs of the aviation system, and says the needs should be addressed now while there is a lull in activity.
On a more positive note, Mead lauds the contact tower program and says it should be expanded to some 70 additional low-level towers, a move opposed by the controllers union. Mead says there has been significant progress regarding runway incursions at U.S. airport, recording a 23 percent decrease in the past year.
Fourthly, Here's an update Concerning Missouri Legislation. Still the Missouri House of Representatives, 2002 Session has adjourned for this year. While the House and Senate are in adjournment, now is a good time for Missourians to become familiar with your Local House of Representatives, and State Senators. Just go to:
This WebSite will give you all the detailed information you'll need, just type in your zip code. I strongly urge everyone, to get to know these Local State Representatives and Senators. Also, if you haven't done so, get to know your U.S. Congressman, and U.S. Senators.
Now, In Conclusion, Remember, We as USPA, MPA, AOPA, EAA, or any other Pilot Association Groups, have a powerful voice in Missouri, and Washington, D.C. So Let's exercise that privilege and continue to make a "Difference for General Aviation."
Until Next Time!
Larry G. Harmon
E-mail address: MPALHARMON@aol.com
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