House panel votes to correct 'pilot insecurity rule,' other unfair measures

June 26, 2003

Pilots who lose their certificates due to national security allegations under the " pilot insecurity rule" would be guaranteed an independent third-party review of the enforcement action against them if a bill approved by a House panel becomes law.

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure late Wednesday passed and sent to the full House a bill to make "technical corrections" to the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. One provision calls for an independent third-party review if a pilot has his certificate pulled due to national security concerns.

"The House already approved such language when it passed the FAA reauthorization bill, which is now in conference committee to reconcile it with the Senate version," said AOPA Senior Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula. "Putting the language into another bill will give the House a chance to approve the measure again if it gets deleted from the reauthorization bill in conference."

Another key provision prohibits the FAA from imposing any security-related temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) without the approval from the Department of Homeland Security's under secretary for Border and Transportation Security. It's a direct result of concerns raised by AOPA the day after the conflict with Iraq began when the FAA granted a Disney purely commercial request for TFRs over its theme parks in California and Florida under the guise of national security. The measure demonstrates that the committee understands security-related TFRs must be based on specific and credible threats.

The full committee backed an amendment by Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) that would allow access to Washington's Reagan/National Airport (DCA), the last airport in the country completely denied to GA. AOPA is pushing to include the DC-3 (College Park, Washington Executive/Hyde Field, and Potomac airports) in the provision.

The bill allows banner towers to resume flights over stadiums, provided they undergo stringent background checks similar to those required for commercial pilots. The same provision also ensures continued VFR access to airports adjacent to stadiums, provided the aircraft is talking to air traffic control or using standard air traffic procedures.

No word yet on when the full House will take up the bill.

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