The FAA on Sept. 24 hosted a meeting near New York’s LaGuardia Airport to discuss proposed changes aimed at reducing ripple-effect delays caused by congestion in the Northeast, especially into and out of the New York Class B airspace.
AOPA President Craig Fuller, Assistant to the President and Vice President Melissa Rudinger, and Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Craig Spence all attended to ensure general aviation’s point of view was adequately represented.
The meeting was moderated by Hank Krakowski, chief operating officer of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt attended, in their words, to listen.
Fuller spoke up early, noting that although general aviation traffic in the New York area is down 30- to 40 percent in recent years, GA pilots are willing to do their part. Fuller told Krakowski, “If the FAA will aggressively pursue equipment certification and take full advantage of the technology by publishing precise GPS-based approaches that give more airports all-weather capability, then GA pilots would have alternatives to landing at the three main New York airports.”
He also said that the FAA’s recent experience in quickly drafting effective new rules for New York’s Hudson River by drawing together representatives from the FAA, air traffic controllers, and key industry stakeholders can serve as a template for finding a remedy to the New York airspace congestion issue.
A representative from an airports association tacitly acknowledged AOPA’s long-held belief that the root cause of delays is on the ground, not in the air, when he reminded LaHood that any discussion of mitigation has to include runways, taxiways, and terminals.
LaHood stressed the importance of a commitment from the stakeholders to help Congress understand the benefits of and the need to fund all of the components of the Next Generation Air Traffic System (NextGen).
“It was encouraging that AOPA and general aviation had a seat at the table,” concluded Fuller. “While the numbers show that we are not a part of the problem, we are clearly viewed as part of the solution.”