AOPA has voiced its opposition to a bill in the New York legislature that would prohibit anybody less than 17 years old from operating an aircraft or applying for a pilot certificate. Assemblyman Robert Barra introduced Assembly Bill 6153 that he believes would prevent an incident similar to the 2002 Florida suicide flight of a 15-year-old into a Tampa, Florida, building. AOPA Northeast Regional Representative Craig Dotlo, arguing in a letter against the bill, explained that not only does it conflict with federal regulations regarding the eligible age of student pilots, it also puts New York into the business of licensing pilots, a field occupied exclusively by the federal government. Dotlo also pointed out that the Florida incident was more a matter of a psychological condition than age. Identical bills have been introduced in previous sessions; all of them died in committee.
March 18, 2005