Let the proper authorities control airspace, key congressmen say

April 10, 2002

Some influential members of Congress are concerned about Rep. Fred Upton's (R-Mich.) attempts to legislate airspace restrictions. Ten members of the House aviation subcommittee, led by Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.), have written a letter to a key committee chairman saying that decisions about national airspace policy should be made by the appropriate committees in Congress and the proper regulatory agencies. That letter is intended to block a legislative "end around" to outlaw flight anywhere near a major sports stadium.

"Sports interests shouldn't be permitted to determine who can fly in the nation's airspace," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Airspace is a resource belonging to all Americans. It should be regulated by the FAA and TSA, as Congress has directed. Rep. Hayes and his co-signers have been very receptive to AOPA's concerns about Rep. Upton's efforts."

At issue are Upton's attempts to outlaw stadium overflights. His latest effort would attach a provision to a temporary funding bill (continuing resolution) that continues government operations until the federal budget is approved. That provision would prevent issuing waivers to stadium overflight notams. His legislative agenda is being supported by lobbyists for the NFL, Major League Baseball, and some universities with major football programs.

But the members of the aviation subcommittee pointed out that any legitimate security concerns had already been addressed by the proper regulatory authorities. "We understand," they wrote, "that the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration have worked on stadium overflight regulations for some months now and issued a new notam on September 27, 2002 maintaining a TFR and explaining the new vetting procedures for pilots obtaining waivers. We wish to include their efforts in addressing the whole issue, rather than just one part of the regulation."

That followed the argument AOPA had presented earlier to Congress. In a letter to all members of the House, Boyer had noted that the new notam "...includes a means of identifying events affected, timing of the events and procedures for using the airports located within close proximity of major sporting events. Failure to properly evaluate and issue appropriate restrictions, as Rep. Upton proposes, jeopardizes the viability of the air transportation service available in many communities."

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