The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is encouraged by the nomination of Norman Y. Mineta as secretary of Transportation. Mineta, currently President Clinton's commerce secretary, is the first Democrat selected by President-elect George W. Bush to serve in his Cabinet.
"Norman Mineta has been a knowledgeable and independent friend to aviation," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "He has always given a fair hearing to the concerns of the nation's general aviation pilots."
Mineta built a reputation as both a transportation expert and a consensus-builder during his 21 years of service in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing California's San Jose area. He served as chairman of the House aviation subcommittee from 1981 to 1988, and in 1992 he was named chairman of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee, a position he held for two years.
"Norm Mineta was a leading advocate for general aviation in Congress," said Boyer. "He supported taking the aviation trust fund 'off budget' so that all taxes collected could be spent on improving our aviation infrastructure."
Mineta also focused congressional attention on key aviation issues such as product liability, airport and airspace access, and aviation safety. In 1987, Mineta received AOPA's Hartranft Award, honoring his contributions to the advancement of general aviation.
In 1997, Mineta chaired the National Civil Aviation Review Commission (NCARC).
"AOPA still disputes the NCARC's conclusions," said Boyer. "However, Chairman Mineta did oppose user fees on general aviation."
Boyer said that with the passage of AIR-21 legislation, the rationale for user fees on any segment of aviation no longer exists. Boyer also noted that President-elect Bush, in an October interview with AOPA Pilot magazine, said that "the fuel tax assesses equitable charges to general aviation users, while the ticket tax has been an efficient way for commercial aviation passengers to pay for their use of the system," clearly setting the tone for the Bush administration to continue with the present, proven method of financing FAA operations and modernization.
"Norm Mineta knows and understands general aviation," said Boyer. "He has a personal interest in it as well: Two of his sons are active GA pilots.
"The nation's GA pilots look forward to collaborating with Norm Mineta as we all work to improve the nation's aviation infrastructure."
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association represents the interests of general aviation, the non-airline segment of aviation. General aviation comprises 92 percent of the nation's aircraft fleet, flying more than 30 million hours a year. More than one half of the nation's pilots and three quarters of the aircraft owners are AOPA members.