...And Still More Work To Do
While H.R. 5035 seems destined to die under the weight of its own excess, the fact that such a bill is even introduced in the U.S. House suggests that GA still has a long way to go. Three years after 9/11, a restrictive ADIZ has shut down a huge chunk of Washington, D.C., airspace. TFRs are frequent and hard to track. Overflight bans remain in place at stadiums. And as Rep. Weiner's legislation shows, not everyone is aware of the work that has been done to secure GA and to explain why small aircraft are not a threat. And general aviation businesses still have seen no financial reparations for losses due to the airspace shutdown, though $100 million was authorized for GA through legislation.
Taking point on financial hardship, National Air Transportation Association (NATA) President James K. Coyne last week sent a letter to all members of the U.S. Congress to remind them that three years later, GA is still waiting for financial help. "While the airlines were allowed to operate within a few days after September 11 and received $5 billion in federal grants to compensate for being grounded, general aviation's gradual return to the skies took several months, and in some cases operations are still prevented today," Coyne wrote. "Thousands of businesses of all shapes and sizes still regularly confront federally mandated restrictions preventing them from conducting revenue-generating flights." While payments of $100 million to GA were authorized in legislation last year, those funds have yet to be appropriated or disbursed. And as for airline security, the Allied Pilots Association reports that despite all the money and effort that has been invested, the system remains vulnerable.