AOPA President Phil Boyer today sent a letter to every member of the U.S. House of Representatives, urging them not to support a bill about to be introduced by Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.). Using a "Dear Colleague" letter, Upton is attempting to garner support in Congress to ban flights near sports stadiums by writing into law the "Catch-22" notam. That notam (1/3353) bans all flight within three miles and 3,000 feet of major sporting events and "large assemblies of people."
"This is an aviation security issue," Boyer states in his letter. "Let's not allow the NFL, Major League Baseball, college sports, and others couple their honest security concerns with an opportunity to solve a competitive business issue, by dictating federal airspace policy. Let's leave this regulation in the hands of the two congressionally mandated regulators!"
Boyer's letter explains that AOPA has worked with the FAA and TSA for the last several months on a process to address security issues around major sporting events. The current effort, which addresses Representative Upton's concerns, is ready for implementation and includes a means of identifying events affected, timing of the events, and procedures for using the airports located within close proximity of major sporting events. "Don't undo the work that has gone into the pending federal notice," Boyer urged Congress.
The Upton amendment would effectively close as many as 55 nontowered airports that account for nearly two million operations annually. Depending on FAA/TSA interpretation, the closures could be for as long as three hours before, until three hours after events.
The letter concludes, "We urge you to reject Rep. Upton's measure and allow the TSA and FAA to ensure the safety and security of the air transportation community."