posted on March 20, 2013 16:46
HAI President Matt Zuccaro joined pilot and actor Harrison Ford and the leaders of other aviation associations at a special meeting of the House General Aviation Caucus on Tuesday, March 19. Ford leant his star drawing power to highlight issues with the ability to hurt general aviation.
Ford told members of Congress and their staff members that he is very concerned about the impact of sequestration on contract air traffic control towers. Contract towers are staffed by FAA-trained and certified air traffic controllers, but managed by outside companies under contract to the FAA. They are cost-efficient and safe, allowing busy, smaller airports to have the added safety of a control tower.
Ford also noted that closing towers would likely have a negative impact on local economies as fewer and fewer pilots choose to land there.
Also high on Ford’s list of concerns is the likely call for aviation user fees in the upcoming Obama Administration budget proposal. User fees, said Ford, hurt both safety and efficiency in the National Airspace System. He said he is suspicious and fearful that user fees that are first imposed on turbine aircraft would soon apply to piston aircraft as well.
The General Aviation Caucuses in the U.S. House and Senate are important tools for the aviation industry. Members are either pilots themselves, have aviation businesses in their constituencies, or have an interest in learning more about aviation. They are then able to explain the complexities of aviation issues to their fellow members.
The caucuses are among the largest on either side of the Capitol. In the House, the GA Caucus has some 170 members. But as co-chair Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) noted in the meeting with Harrison Ford, the magic number they’d like to reach is 218, because that represents a majority of house members who would be likely to back legislation beneficial to general aviation.
HAI urges its U.S. members and members with operations in the United States to contact their elected federal representatives and find out if they’re members of the GA Caucus (A list of members of Congress, including those who are part of the GA Caucus, is available from the Alliance for Aviation Across America). If they are members, thank them for their support of the industry. If they’re not, urge them to join and help protect this vital part of the nation’s transportation system.