October 2003

GREETINGS! First, Here’s an update from Washington, D.C. A new report from the DOT Inspector General reports that contract VFR towers costs less to operate and are potentially safer than comparable FAA-operated towers. However, the report did little to squash the ongoing debate in Congress over potentially expanding the program, an issue that has become central to passage of the proposed four-year aviation-funding bill.

The I.G. report, which compared 12 contract towers with 12 FAA towers, found that the contract towers cost some $917,000 a year less to operate, while the safety records actually favor the contract tower program. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association opposes any expansion of the contract tower program.

The broader issue of privatization of the air traffic control system has become the focal point of the debate for the new aviation funding bill, which had moved through both Houses with relative ease this summer. It is also an issue with the Bush Administration. The final bill, a result of a House-Senate conference, says ATC cannot be privatized until at least 2007, but also allows for expanding the contract tower program to another 69 VFR Towers. Lawmakers in both Houses have threatened to stop passage of the bill because of NATCA’s opposition, with union jobs the central issue.

The Bush Administration, which has not expressly sought to privatize ATC, wants the option to remain open and the President has threatened to veto the bill even if it passes Congress because of the stipulation through 2007.

Secondly, AAAE (American Association of Airport Executives) tell the Bush Administration that the continued collection of competition plans for airports, required under AIR-21, is no longer justified in light of the state of the airline industry.

AAAE is also seeking input from airports on an FAA draft document, Best Practices: Planning Airports for Business Jets, which the agency forwarded to the association for feedback.

Thirdly, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announces that the Federal Air Marshal Program will be transferred out of TSA and into the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Fourthly, State of Alaska receives $21.6 million in FAA grants for safety enhancements at various airports.

Fifthly, National Transportation Safety Board recommends that FAR Part 135 operators annually report total hours flown, revenue flight hours, revenue miles flown, and number of departures by category/class of aircraft.

Sixthly, Here’s an update Concerning Missouri Legislation. The Missouri State Senate is not in Session. The Senate will convene the Second Regular Session of the 92ND General Assembly on Wednesday, January 7, 2004.
The Missouri House of Representatives is not doing much either. The only Aircraft and Aviation Bills, is HB0275, The Missouri Airport Protection Act, is dead this year. We will need to regroup our efforts, and try again for passage during the next General Assembly in 2004.

Nothing more to report at this time concerning Missouri Legislation.

Now, In Conclusion, Remember, we as MPA, USPA, EAA, AOPA, or any other State Pilot Associations, you may be a member of, we all have a powerful voice, be it here in Missouri, or what State you represent. Because, all groups carry a strong voice to Washington, D.C.

So Let’s not forget to exercise our privileges, and continue to make a “Difference for General Aviation.”

Until Next Time!

Larry G. Harmon
Legislation Chairman
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