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Testimony before New Jersey Senate Transportation Committee regarding S1738Testimony before New Jersey Senate Transportation Committee regarding S1738

Testimony before New Jersey Senate Transportation Committee regarding S1738

Chairman Sacco, Vice-Chairman Madden, members of the committee:

My name is Owen Sweeney and I am the manager of Regional Affairs for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; AOPA as it is commonly known. With over 400,000 members - nearly 9,500 of whom live in New Jersey - AOPA is the world's largest service organization for aircraft owners and pilots of general aviation aircraft. We are grateful for this opportunity to address the committee.

Long a proponent of requiring pilots to carry government-issued photo identification, AOPA applauds the intent of Senate Bill 1738. However, given current FAA rules and rigorous, self-adopted industry practices regarding the rental of aircraft, AOPA believes that the pilot ID requirements are duplicative of federal requirements and the record retention requirement is burdensome and unnecessary.

Since October 2002, the Federal Aviation Administration - at the request of AOPA - has required each pilot to carry government-issued photo identification when flying and to present that photo identification upon request.

In addition to these federal rule changes, the general aviation industry itself has adopted strict practices regarding the rental of aircraft. Renting a plane is not like renting a car or truck: typical requirements for renting an aircraft include showing documents proving both the identity and qualifications of pilots. Copies of the type of documents recorded by aircraft rental companies include:

  • Driver's licenses (a form of picture ID).
  • Pilot license and certificate applicable to the type of aircraft rented.
  • Record of a current FAA-required flight review.
  • Record of FAA medical certificate.
  • Record of renter's contact information (phone, address, employment, etc.).

Additionally, all pilots must complete "checkout" procedures, which include:

  • Completing a written test on the make and model of the aircraft to be flown and;
  • Completing a "checkout" flight or flights with a certified flight instructor in the rental aircraft and demonstrating the skill required to safely operate the aircraft as pilot in command.

This brings us to our concern regarding the bill's record retention requirement, which attempts to improve security. However, we do not see how this requirement does so, since:

  1. Once the renter has returned the plane, there is no longer a need for the renter's identifying information to be retained; or
  2. If the renter does not return the plane, the rental agency already has that information on file, since it was recorded by the rental agency prior to releasing the plane and can be given to the proper law enforcement agency.

Moreover, we are concerned that this bill would provide a vast, unsecured storehouse of pilots' identifying information that could increase pilots' exposure to identity theft. New Jersey has been at the forefront of protecting the identity of its residents, and we hope that the committee will take into consideration this unintended consequence of S1738.

Thank you again for the opportunity to address the committee, and we respectfully request that you postpone or withdraw S1738 from further consideration.

November 17, 2004

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