The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved its version of the FAA's funding (reauthorization) bill (H.R.2115) and a manager's amendment that includes several AOPA-backed provisions that address issues of interest to general aviation pilots. At the top of the list is an AOPA issue addressed by Committee Chairman Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who developed a fix for the "pilot insecurity rule" guaranteeing a third-party appeals process for pilots facing certificate revocation if suspected of being a "security risk." The legislation also reverses an FAA classification of air traffic control that would have made ATC susceptible to privatization efforts. It also includes a "Meigs Field legacy provision" establishing a $10,000-per-day fine for failing to give 30 days' notice before closing an airport listed in the FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems.
To help pilots in the Washington, D.C., area, AOPA member Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) sponsored an amendment that requires the FAA to justify to Congress the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) within 30 days and then every 60 days thereon that it is in existence. His amendment also requires the FAA to outline changes that will improve the efficiency and minimize operational impacts, if the ADIZ remains in effect. The committee included a sense of the Congress that Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport be reopened to general aviation, this may act as a catalyst to reopen transient operations at the "DC-3."
Freshman member of Congress, AOPA member Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), led an initiative that enables pilots to secure a long-term lease to build a hangar on an airport. The legislation also facilitates hangar construction by an airport operator using federal funds, provided important runway and taxiway improvements have been paid for.
Businesses in the Washington, D.C., area and banner towers would be eligible for reimbursement for losses due to security costs incurred by post-9/11 security restrictions. Finally, the head Democrat on the aviation subcommittee, Rep. Peter Defazio (D-Ore.) backed language to protect aircraft owners at any airport being considered for inclusion under the FAA's airport privatization program, requiring that 65 percent of aircraft owners based at the airport would have to approve the plan.
"The House leadership on aviation has proved again that they understand and support the needs of the general aviation community—I'm pleased by the comprehensive approach to some of the most difficult issues aviation is currently facing," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.
The House bill now heads to the floor for consideration by the entire House. When passed, the House and the Senate will meet to compare their versions of a bill to fund the FAA. Timing on the next move for both the House and Senate bills is uncertain but will occur after the Memorial Day holiday.