Members of Congress grilled Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta earlier this week about removing airspace restrictions around Washington, D.C., and restoring normal operations to Maryland's "DC-3" airports. House Democratic Whip and senior member of the Maryland House delegation Representative Steny Hoyer led the charge. (Rep. Hoyer had earlier led the Maryland delegation in urging Mineta to consider AOPA's petition to reopen the DC-3.)
During Tuesday's hearing before the House transportation appropriations subcommittee, Hoyer reminded Mineta that general aviation in the Washington, D.C., area is still suffering under restrictions that have been lifted elsewhere.
"In fact, Chicago, Boston, and New York all have had their restrictions lifted," Hoyer said. "Something needs to be done to address this situation."
Addressing the DC-3 airports, Hoyer said, "General aviation airports located in the Washington suburbs, specifically College Park Airport, Potomac Air Field, and Hyde Field, are being uniquely and adversely impacted by security-related procedures and protocols. These airports have experienced devastating financial and economic losses."
Earlier in March, Hoyer led the Maryland House delegation in writing to Secretary Mineta, urging him to consider AOPA's petition to restore normal operations at these airports. Senators Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Mikulski (D-Md.) also wrote in support of AOPA's recommendations.
During the hearing, Secretary Mineta responded that security decisions are now outside of DOT and in the hands of the Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Security Council. Given that, he anticipated very little change to the air restrictions surrounding Washington. He did suggest the possibility of a buy-out of the three airports by the Department of Transportation.
Hoyer rejoined stating that GA has done absolutely nothing wrong but continues to be shut down and punished.