New York Congressman Anthony Weiner won't be targeting fixed-wing general aviation with security legislation. AOPA President Phil Boyer and Vice President of Legislative Affairs Jon Hixson had a substantive discussion with Weiner Wednesday afternoon to explain GA security and reiterate AOPA members' opposition to his current security bill.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Weiner said, "Tell your members I will not be pursuing fixed-wing aircraft. I will do further study on helicopter operations in New York City with a better understanding of Part 91 versus charter and sightseeing operations."
Weiner has introduced legislation that would require airline-style security screening and "continuous contact with the FAA" for every GA flight. It also would prohibit flight over any city with a population of more than 1 million or within 1,500 feet of any building.
Boyer reviewed federal regulations with Weiner to show that there are already safeguards in place governing flight over populated areas and near structures.
Boyer explained to Weiner that general aviation pilots flying under Part 91 rules know who their passengers are and what's in their luggage - just like drivers of private passenger cars.
Using an AOPA vehicle comparison chart, Boyer demonstrated the limited cargo capacity of a typical GA aircraft compared to the potential explosive loads of the cargo vans or semi trailer trucks that are ubiquitous in New York City.
He also showed Weiner a New York terminal area chart and explained how Class B airspace and mandatory transponder usage protect all major metropolitan areas.
Boyer talked about the dramatic improvements in GA airport security and pilot certification since September 11, 2001. The Transportation Security Administration is receiving some seven calls a day on the GA Hotline (866/GA-SECUR) implemented as part of AOPA's Airport Watch program. And because of AOPA advocacy, pilots now carry photo identification.
More than 18,000 AOPA members live within 60 miles of New York City, and 1,000 members reside in Weiner's district.
"Congressman Weiner has a better appreciation now of the security measures in place for general aviation and the negative impacts of overregulation," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.
September 23, 2004