Some members of the U.S. Senate leapt to the defense of general aviation today. AOPA staff was in the hearing room when Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) highlighted "the big hit" suffered by general aviation and GA aircraft manufacturers. He spoke out during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing examining the financial status of the airlines. Sen. Brownback reminded the subcommittee that GA received no benefit from last year's $15 billion airline bailout.
Pointing out that a staggering 23 percent of aircraft industry workers have lost their jobs in his home state of Kansas alone, Brownback expressed his dissatisfaction with the subcommittee's neglect of general aviation.
Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) shared Mr. Brownback's concerns in his opening statement, asserting that Congress "has done nothing for general aviation" and that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as gone in the "180 degrees wrong direction" from what Congress intended with respect to security regulation. Both senators demanded that something be done for general aviation's staggering losses and urged their colleagues to help GA as they have helped the commercial airlines since the September 11th tragedy.
Meanwhile, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has introduced a GA relief amendment to the Homeland Security Bill currently being debated in the Senate. He is expected to offer a second such amendment as early as this week.
In a later hearing taking place in the House aviation subcommittee, Representative Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) highlighted the importance of general aviation and the need for the committee to focus on GA relief in his statement before the committee.