The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) needs to hear directly from those who will be most affected by a proposal to make the two-and-a-half year old "temporary" flight restriction around Baltimore, Md., and Washington, D.C. permanent, says the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).
In a letter to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, AOPA President Phil Boyer wrote, "The opportunity to provide oral comments in a public forum will allow FAA and Homeland Security officials to hear directly from members of the general aviation community about the practical difficulties and economic hardships the ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) causes to pilots operating in the National Capital area."
"The FAA owes it not only to itself, but also to the pilots who will have to deal with the effects of such a proposal, to gather every bit of information they can," said Boyer of AOPA's request for meetings. "Holding public sessions will allow important give-and-take between the FAA and pilots that written comments alone can't accommodate."
In the letter, Boyer also encouraged the FAA to invite other government stakeholders to the public meetings. Inviting the Department of Defense and Homeland Security officials would "facilitate better understanding of the operational challenges caused by the ADIZ.
"While this particular ADIZ obviously has the greatest effect on pilots in the Baltimore-Washington area and along the Eastern Seaboard, it's an issue every pilot in the United States needs to be concerned about," said Boyer. "If allowed to go forward as a final rule the Washington, D.C. ADIZ would establish a precedent that could be duplicated in every major metropolitan area across the country.
"In short, AOPA believes that public meetings will greatly assist the FAA's understanding of the full range of issues presented by the ADIZ," the letter concludes. "We urge you to allow impacted pilots and operators to participate actively in this rulemaking by scheduling public meetings before any final rule."
Whether or not the FAA agrees to AOPA's request, the Association is calling on all members nationwide to file written comments.
The FAA is accepting comments until November 2, 2005. Comments may be filed online by going to the Department of Transportation's Docket Management System at http://dms.dot.gov, clicking "Simple Search," and entering "17005" as the docket number. Then simply click on the "Comment/Submissions" button to enter formal comments. Alternatively, written comments may be mailed to: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh St. SW, Washington, D.C., 20590.
The more-than-405,000 members of AOPA make up the world's largest civil aviation association. AOPA is committed to striking a common-sense balance that fulfills national security needs while protecting aircraft owners and pilots from overly burdensome regulations.
September 28, 2005