March 1, 2010
By Sarah Brown
As lawmakers and regulators consider the proper response to the Feb. 18 crash of a Piper Cherokee into an office building in Austin, Texas, a supporter of general aviation in Congress says unnecessary restrictions on GA are not the answer.
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), a member of the Senate GA Caucus, cautioned additional burdens on the industry in a press release Feb. 26. Brownback has spoken out for GA on issues such as the proposed Large Aircraft Security Program, user fees, and aircraft depreciation.
“People within the general aviation community are totally committed to the safe and secure operation of the system and take great pride in looking for ways to continually improve it,” Brownback said. “We should not let the tragedy in Texas lead to government actions which will further burden the use of general aviation aircraft. We can be safe and secure without hurting a vital national industry.”
He recognized the contributions of the industry to his state, the home of many GA aircraft manufacturers. “General aviation is a vital component of our way of life; it facilitates commerce, transportation, safety and rescue operations, and creates jobs for millions of Americans,” he said.
The press release also explains how GA is already suffering from the economic downturn: Aircraft sales have declined, and 13,000 aviation-related jobs have been lost in the Wichita area alone. That decline has an effect on the broader economy. According to the Department of Labor, for every GA worker on the production line, three jobs outside the immediate company are created, the press release states.
We should do our best not to harm this critical industry, Brownback said.
“The Kansas and U.S. general aviation industry is the safest and most productive in the world,” he said. “The members of the general aviation team will continue to be vigilant to ensure the system works for all Americans. I applaud their efforts and stand with them.”
AOPA told lawmakers that a tax-abatement bill introduced in Nevada would stimulate aviation business and make more services available to members.
The FAA has released an eight-minute video providing aviation medical examiners with guidance on the agency's new obstructive sleep apnea policy, which takes effect March 2.
New legislation in both houses of Congress would allow thousands of pilots to fly without a third class medical and offer new protections for GA pilots.
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