HAI calls for action on US airspace issue

HAI calls for action on US airspace issue 7 May, 12, Source: HAI

As many of you are aware, HAI has as two of its top priorities the defense of your right to access the airspace and the maintenance of an operating environment absent of overburdensome, ill-conceived regulations and legislative mandates.

Of the several critical issues we are currently dealing with, one demands your immediate attention.

The Joint Conference Committee appointed to iron out differences between the House and Senate versions of the Highway Reauthorization Bill is set to meet next week (May 8). Although it’s a highway bill, it contains a poison pill amendment for the helicopter industry — one HAI needs your help to fight.

Embedded in the Senate version, S. 1813, is language inserted by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) that minimizes the FAA’s congressionally mandated authority to safely and efficiently manage and regulate the National Airspace System. The amendment instead carves out airspace over our national parks and gives the National Park Service authority to regulate air tour operators over the parks. HAI believes the Alexander amendment is unacceptable, establishes a dangerous precedent, and would transfer the FAA’s statutory role in overseeing air safety to third parties.

Sen. Alexander developed his amendment without the participation of affected stakeholders and without any consultation from the air tour industry. This dangerous, precedent-setting amendment compromises passenger safety and thousands of air tour-related jobs during a time of high unemployment, in addition to threatening the very existence of a vital tourism-based industry.

All stakeholders in the helicopter industry should contact the conference committee members, especially if you reside in a district or state represented by one of the conferees. Because you are one of their constituents, your help is critical in getting the message to the actual decision-makers in Washington.

Click here for a list of House conferees and their Washington, D.C., telephone numbers.

Click here for a list of Senate conferees and their Washington, D.C., telephone numbers.

Contact information for all members of Congress may be found at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.

Below are some points you may wish to use in explaining the danger the Alexander amendment poses if it remains in the final Highway Reauthorization Bill:

  1. Because it would impact an aviation safety issue, the Alexander amendment is not germane to a highway trust fund reauthorization bill.
  2. The Alexander amendment flies in the face of congressional intent when it established the FAA to create a unified National Airspace System overseen by a single authority.
  3. The FAA must not be allowed to relinquish its authority or abandon its responsibility to maintain the safe and efficient use of the National Airspace System.
  4. The Alexander amendment would inappropriately give the director of the National Park Service full unilateral authority over airspace above national parks, allowing him to eliminate the air tour industry from our national parks.
  5. The Alexander amendment would facilitate the National Park Service’s ability to inappropriately influence the selection of air tour routes when the NPS has no expertise in the regulation of air carriers or airspace management, and has been openly hostile to the air tour operators.
  6. The last time the National Park Service exerted undue influence on air routes over a national park, a midair collision between a fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter resulted. The National Transportation Safety Board’s final report listed as contributing factors the FAA’s failure to exercise its oversight responsibility and the National Park Service’s influence over the selection of air routes.
  7. This amendment would lead to lost jobs for pilots, drivers, guides, and support staff of air tour providers and the local businesses that rely on them, with a ripple effect of lower manufacturing employment within the helicopter parts and maintenance industry.
  8. The air tour operators’ willingness and eagerness to be “early adopters” of quiet technologies supports manufacturers’ development of those technologies, benefiting the entire industry and the people we fly over.

You need to act now. Thank you for your continued support.

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