The chairman and the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee pledge to help businesses, such as flight schools, that were hurt by the ban on VFR operations following the September 11th attacks in Washington and New York.
After conferring closely with AOPA's legislative office, North Carolina congressman and AOPA member Robin Hayes rose to engage committee Chairman Don Young and Ranking Member Jim Oberstar in a colloquy on the future of general aviation during floor debate on legislation to help "bail out" the airline industry. AOPA President Phil Boyer will testify tomorrow before the House aviation subcommittee and outline the elements of what AOPA believes should be included in relief legislation.
Hayes stated the airlines were not the only ones hurt financially by the terrorist attacks. "Many of those in general aviation suffer as well. For example, some 3,500 flight schools will have lost up to $245 million in revenue by this coming Tuesday due to the continued ban on VFR training," Hayes stated. He asked the chairman if "the committee also intends to address the financial difficulties of other components of general aviation in the near future?"
Chairman Young said he feels that "general aviation is of vital importance to our nation's economy" and described the vital role GA plays in his home state of Alaska. He said it was "my intention to present to this body by next week a bill, if possible, that will provide real economic relief to those in need."
Mr. Oberstar pledged his support as well. He said he shares the chairman's view of the importance of general aviation and indicated that he had already written to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, to "urge her to lift the restrictions on VFR flights and boundaries of Class Bravo airspace and for flight school operations anywhere in the country." He closed by saying that he would work with the chairman to "develop a relief package for those sectors of the aviation industry not subject to the provisions of this bill."