GA 'watchdog' won't seek re-election

October 5, 2011

Longtime general aviation advocate on Capitol Hill Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) announced Oct. 4 that he will not seek re-election in 2012. Costello, a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and ranking member of the aviation subcommittee, said he would complete his current term which ends in January 2013. He also is a member of the House General Aviation Caucus.

"Congressman Costello has been a staunch longtime supporter of the entire national air transportation system. We are especially grateful for his recognition of how important general aviation is to the overall system,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “His expertise will be sorely missed after the next election, but until then, we look forward to working with him for the remainder of the 112th Congress to ensure the FAA has the long-term funding it needs."

Costello has stood strong for GA, opposing user fees and telling the Transportation Security Administration that its initial proposal for a Large Aircraft Security Program wasn’t necessary. Costello also worked to ensure the flight service transition from the FAA to Lockheed Martin had to meet certain performance standards, supported changes to what was the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone (now a special flight rules area), and helped pave the way for aviation taxes in the aviation trust fund to go to airports and aviation programs.

AOPA awarded Costello with the Joseph B. Hartranft "Doc" Award in 2007 for his efforts to prevent aviation user fees.

In 2010, AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines interviewed Costello to give pilots an exclusive look at “General aviation’s watchdog in Congress.” “His command of aviation lingo and issues is so thorough that most people would be surprised to discover that he is not a pilot,” Haines wrote of the congressman. “His passion for things aviation was first sparked as a young man, when he experienced general aviation as a passenger in a Cessna flown by his brother.”

In his announcement that he would not seek re-election, Costello said, "It has been a privilege and an honor to serve in the U.S. Congress for the past 23 years. However, I said when I was elected in 1988 and many times since that I did not intend to stay in Congress forever as I had other interests that I wanted to pursue."