AOPA President Phil Boyer and AOPA's Washington-based legislative affairs staff began a series of meetings today with members of Congress to enlist their support to "free the GA 41,000." In his first meeting with Colorado Senator Wayne Allard, Boyer emphasized that more than 120,000 pilots are trapped in enhanced Class B airspace where VFR flight by certificated pilots is prohibited. Sen. Allard said he understood the importance of VFR flying, noting that in Colorado, many GA aircraft can't reach the minimum enroute altitudes for IFR operations. He acknowledged the "inconsistencies" in the current policy. Allard committed to working with the National Security Council to find relief for general aviation, and he promised to go to the White House as well.
Meanwhile, the White House Office of Public Liaison contacted AOPA today to offer help in resolving the problems for general aviation pilots.
Representative Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) today introduced legislation in the House of Representatives that would provide relief to those general aviation businesses damaged by the ground stop that occurred in the wake of the tragic events of September 11. The legislation would require the Small Business Administration to provide grants and loans to small GA businesses that qualify and would defer repayment of loans and interest rates for one year. The legislation has eight other original sponsors: Representatives Robin Hayes (R-N.C.), Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.), Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Nick Lampson (D-Texas), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Butch Otter (R-Idaho), Sue Kelly (R-N.Y.), and Jim Duncan (R-Tenn.). AOPA has been working with staff on Capitol Hill to develop and sponsor this legislation.