Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association President Phil Boyer joined other general aviation leaders today in calling for opening all of the National Airspace System to all general aviation operations.
"General aviation businesses have lost hundreds of million of dollars, and thousands of Americans have been laid off as a result of flight restrictions placed on general aviation," Boyer said. "AOPA has offered countless solutions that would enable the government to lift the restrictions to visual flight that exist around major city centers. It's time to get on with it before further jobs and businesses are lost.
"Our main focus is restoring VFR flight in Class B airspace. We want to get back in the air."
Boyer added his voice to other general aviation leaders including Ed Bolen, General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) president; Jack Olcott, president of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA); and Gary Hay, Cessna Aircraft Company CEO.
"AOPA has been active and vocal about the need to remove the onerous visual flight restriction restrictions," Boyer said. "The continued VFR ban is having a tremendous economic impact on the infrastructure that supports general aviation. Businesses that sell fuel, maintain aircraft, flight schools, etc., are suffering significant losses and many have had to lay off or fire employees."
While there was progress this weekend with the reduction of TFR restrictions around Washington, D.C., and New York to 18 miles, Boyer pointed out that there are some 282 airports in 30 metropolitan areas that remain effectively closed to VFR operations. More than 41,000 aircraft and 120,000 pilots are affected. These aircraft are used for personal and business transportation, just as Americans use their cars, Boyer said. These aircraft used for business travel also provide a necessary alternative to the airlines.
Boyer noted the incongruity of current regulations allow student pilots to fly solo in Class B airspace, but that their instructors and other licensed pilots could not. "As some rules have been relaxed, pilots are wondering why they can't use their aircraft for their businesses," Boyer said.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, founded in 1939, represents more than 375,000 pilots, well over half the total active pilot population. Members own and fly about three quarters of all GA aircraft in the country.