November 11, 2009
Statement of Keith Holt
Manager, State Affairs
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS COMMITTEE MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The Honorable Maggie McIntosh, Chair
MD HB 1041 - Task Force to Study General Aviation Issues in Maryland
March 17, 2004
Good afternoon, I am Keith Holt, Manager of State Affairs for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). AOPA is the world's largest civil aviation organization, representing over 400,000 members nationwide, 7,400 of whom reside in Maryland.
From our Frederick, Maryland, headquarters, where we employ nearly 160 employees, AOPA coordinates representation of our members at the federal, state and local levels on a number of issues affecting general aviation. In addition, we publish two major magazines and oversee a multitude of member products and services from our Maryland headquarters.
Many of the initiatives for the general aviation task force proposed to be formed under House Bill 1041 are either local issues, or in regards to security, issues under the jurisdiction of federal authorities. We ask for your no vote on House Bill 1041.
AOPA has published several materials that address general aviation airport noise concerns, including producing a pilot-oriented Flying Friendly video and information regarding compatible land-use planning. In addition, the FAA has published information on land-use compatibility and environmental concerns.
With over 5,500 public-use airports nationwide, every airport is unique. Studying land use, safety and environmental issues is generally a local issue. Some states, such as California, have adopted guidelines for local communities to follow in order to help ensure compatible land use and smart growth initiatives around airports. However, by in large, local municipalities are given flexibility to address these concerns in the best interest of their local citizens.
The federal government oversees aviation to ensure safety, efficiency, and security of both the aviation system and the nation as a whole by regulating the operations of aircraft, airports, and airspace.
Since the tragic events of 9/11, the federal government has taken numerous actions related to aviation security. New security measures include extensive background checks on pilots by the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, new restrictions were put in place on foreign pilots and non-U.S. citizens seeking flight training (see attachment for complete list of federal aviation industry actions on general aviation security).
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is presently engaged in developing information on general aviation airport security. TSA asked the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) to establish a working group to provide recommended security procedures for general aviation airports. The working group consisted of aviation association, airport managers, TSA officials, and state aviation officials. Due to the location of the working group's meeting in Washington D.C., a representative from the Maryland Aviation Association participated in several of these working group sessions.
In November of 2003, the Committee approved the report of the General Aviation Airport Working Group on general aviation airport security measures. That report has been delivered to TSA and is presently being prepared for dissemination as an information publication.
Included in the working group's report provided to TSA, and information that will likely be included in the final information publication released by TSA, are flight school security guidelines. This information was modeled from information previously released by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
AOPA has remained proactive on airport security measures. By partnering with the TSA, we developed a nationwide Airport Watch program that uses the more than 650,000 pilots as eyes and ears for observing and reporting suspicious activity. AOPA Airport Watch is supported by a centralized governmentally staffed, toll-free hotline (1-866-GA-SECURE) and system for reporting and acting on information provided by general aviation pilots. The Airport Watch program includes warning signs for airports, informational literature, and training videotape to educate pilots and airport employees as to how security of their airports and aircraft can be enhanced.
AOPA has nearly 65 years of experience in general aviation issues. AOPA has already been involved with or studied most of the issues that the task force would be asked to study. We are available to provide any information to this committee and to this legislature on general aviation issues.
We ask that you vote no on House Bill 1041.
Government Actions. Since September 11, 2001, the federal government has taken numerous actions related to aviation security. While the terrorist attacks of September 11th were not orchestrated using general aviation aircraft, the federal government nevertheless has taken actions directed at or that encompass general aviation operators. These federal actions include the following:
Industry Actions. Individual general aviation organizations have taken proactive steps to increase security and security awareness. Aviation, while big in economic impact and number of operations, is relatively small when compared to other forms of transportation such as surface transportation. As such, general aviation operators are keenly aware and willing to individually enhance the security of their operation without the need of government regulation. Given the ease and frequency of intrastate movement, combined with the wide variety of operations, measures taken by individual operators are more comprehensive than regulation at the state or federal level.
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association 421 Aviation Way Frederick, MD 21701 301-695-2162 www.aopa.org
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AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.