AOPA joined with 12 other aviation organizations today to urge President George W. Bush to make "aviation capacity enhancements a top national priority." In a letter to the President, the group noted that while it took only eight years to put a man on the moon, "today's bureaucracy and regulatory red tape can delay more modest, yet crucial runway construction projects at airports for up to 15 years. The resulting lack of adequate airport capacity creates lengthy delays for air travelers and system users resulting in negative impacts to the economy." [See also the letter to President Bush ( HTML | PDF).]
The letter resulted from the one-day "2001 Aviation Capacity Summit" in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Air Transport Association (representing the major airlines) and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. AOPA participated in the summit to ensure that the needs of general aviation were included in the recommendations to the President.
The aviation organizations told Bush that inadequate runways and other airport infrastructure cause aviation delays. The top 25 airports represent 90 percent of the delays in the system. The group said that measures to expedite projects at these airports, including removing unreasonable environmental review delays, promise the greatest benefit to travelers and system performance.
AOPA added to the letter the fact that these airports are supported by a robust system of secondary and reliever airports, but many of these general aviation airports are threatened. AOPA said secondary and reliever airports need to be protected with better land-use laws.
The group said air traffic control modernization programs that increase capacity and reduce delays should be given high priority over a five-year timetable. That includes full-scale implementation of GPS navigation and continued development of Safe Flight 21 initiatives such as ADS-B. AOPA noted that these technologies could significantly increase safety as well as capacity by addressing the problems of runway safety and pilot situational awareness.
The letter also emphasized a top AOPA priority by telling the President that long-term, guaranteed funding for improving airports and the air traffic control system, as established by the AIR-21 legislation (which unlocked the aviation trust fund), was critical. Arguing against privatization, the group said, "We must continue the momentum gained through AIR-21 and extend the use of present aviation taxes to produced predictable funding levels over the long term."
"We respectfully urge the Bush administration to make aviation capacity enhancements a top national priority by working with the aviation community to ensure that America's air transport system has the airport capacity, modern air traffic management technology and procedures, and long-term investment necessary to foster the maintenance of a safe and efficient air transportation system," the letter concluded.