June 15, 2012
Pending Congressional Action Threatens Your Access to Airspace
Important Message from HAI President Matt Zuccaro:
Pending Congressional Action Threatens Your Access to Airspace

An aviation provision has snuck its way into a highway funding bill (S.1813) currently being negotiated by members of the House of Representatives and Senate that threatens both access to airspace and air safety.

An amendment (S.Amdt.1779) to the highway trust fund bill offered by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) does nothing less than begin to dismantle the United States' National Airspace System (NAS) – the safest, most efficient air transportation system in the world. It breaks the cohesive NAS into pieces and gives regulatory authority for some of those pieces to an agency – the National Park Service – whose only previous experience with airspace management was a contributing factor in a fatal midair collision.

Congress must act – by passing either a compromise bill or an extension – no later than June 30. The aviation community cannot assume that Congress will remain deadlocked and just pass an extension. We must assume that a conference bill will emerge. Therefore it is imperative that HAI members call – not fax, not email, but call – the offices of members on the conference committee. A list of the conferees and their contact information is below.

Points you may wish to consider for your conversation with the conferees' offices:

• The Alexander amendment threatens access to the National Airspace System.
o Agencies other than the FAA would be given sole authority to determine who may and may not use certain airspace.

• The Alexander amendment is anti-safety.
o The FAA exists to maintain safe, efficient use of the National Airspace System. The Alexander amendment gives control of sections of airspace to agencies whose primary interests are other than air safety.

• The Alexander amendment flies in the face of the will of Congress.
o Congress deemed a cohesive National Airspace System vital to national interests. The Alexander amendment breaks that system into separate pieces with different overseers.

• The Alexander amendment sets a dangerous precedent that opens the door to any government or government agency – federal, state or local – demanding control of "its" airspace.
o For example, what would prevent the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from blocking access to airspace over nuclear power plants? Or a mayor of a major metropolitan area – Los Angeles or New York, for instance – from demanding the airspace over downtown be closed?

• The Alexander amendment has received no congressional review.
o The current aviation-related amendment was added to the Senate version of a surface transportation bill at the eleventh hour, without review by any committee or subcommittee with oversight of aviation matters.
o An attempt to attach an earlier incarnation of the amendment to the FAA authorization bill was reviewed – and rejected!

• The House General Aviation Caucus has sent a letter to the conferees urging them to reject the Alexander amendment.

• The Alexander amendment language was developed without any input from the air tour industry it seeks to legislate out of existence.

The deadline for congressional action is imminent and the danger that the conference committee could reach a deal is very real.

I need you – the industry needs you – to let the conferees know that the Alexander amendment is bad for the industry and bad for the country.

Call now.

Matt Zuccaro
President, COO
Helicopter Association International

P.S. Let us know who you reached and what they said. Email us at ann.carroll@rotor.com.

Senate Highway Bill Conferees

Senator, State (Party), Phone
Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey (D), 202.224.4744
Sen. Charles Schumer, New York (D), 202.224.6542

House Highway Bill Conferees

Representative, State (Party), Phone
Rep. Timothy Bishop, New York (D), 202.225.3826
Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland (D), 202.225.4741
Rep. Edward Markey, Massachusetts (D), 202.225.2836
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York (D), 202.225.5635
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of Columbia (D), 202.225.8050
Rep. Richard Hanna, New York (R), 202.225.3665
Rep. Bill Shuster, Pennsylvania (R), 202.225.2431

Helicopter Association International
1635 Prince Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314-2818
Telephone: (703) 683-4646 | Fax: (703) 683-4745

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