While many NBAA members were in Atlanta partaking of the association’s recent convention, senior vice president of operations Steve Brown was in Washington on Capitol Hill defending business aviation against assertions by the airlines that GA was partly responsible for record-setting flight delays.
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
“In Washington, D.C., no bad idea ever dies,” National Association of State Aviation Officials president and CEO Henry Ogrodzinski said of aviation user fees late last month at the American Association of Airport Executives General Aviation Issues Conference in Naples, Fla. “Even if a good [FAA reauthorization] bill passes this time, user fees will still come up next time.”
“In Washington, D.C., no bad idea ever dies,” National Association of State Aviation Officials president and CEO Henry Ogrodzinski said of aviation user fees yesterday at the American Association of Airport Executives General Aviation Issues Conference in Naples, Fla.
With the forcible shutdown of Chicago Meigs Field fresh in their minds, several members of the House aviation subcommittee called to eliminate some of the security restrictions that have been imposed on general aviation as a result of 9/11 and continuing unspecified terrorist threats. And general aviation trade associations pleaded with the lawmakers to create a cohesive federal policy on airspace and airport shutdowns.
The destruction of Meigs Field’s runway is viewed by enraged aviation interests as an act of vandalism to a public facility that would have landed any other citizen of Chicago in jail. Such is the power of politics in the Second City, however, that Mayor Richard Daley Jr. continues to walk free, plotting with his lawyers.
It has been more than a month since Chicago mayor Richard Daley’s midnight raid on the city’s lakefront airport, Meigs Field. By now, the story of the runway’s actual destruction is widely known. Reactions have been pouring in from groups as diverse as NBAA, the Experimental Aircraft Association and the National Air Traffic Controllers’ Association.
If business aviation has been sideswiped by the economic mal-aise, it would have been difficult to find evidence of any damage at NBAA’s 14th Annual Schedulers
& Dispatchers Conference. This year’s venue was Anaheim, Calif., home of Disneyland.
The Bush Administration has proposed a $14 billion reauthorization budget for the FAA for fiscal year 2004, taking a bigger bite from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund but calling for no new user fees. The FAA spending plan is part of the overall Transportation Department budget package, and is up slightly from the $13.6 billion requested for FY 2003.
A pair of lawsuits against Mayor Daley and the city of Chicago are working their separate paths through state and federal courts, and legislation has been introduced in the Illinois state Senate to expand O’Hare Airport. Meigs supporters are rallying to try to have language attached to that legislation requiring preservation of the lakeside airport, as was done in the ill-fated 2001 agreement between Mayor Daley and then-governor George Ryan.
AOPA has proposed that the city of Chicago apply for $41 million in federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding to buy Meigs Field from its current owner, the Chicago Park District. AOPA president Phil Boyer said, “The funds will give [the Park District] significant resources to improve existing parks and create a new one on Northerly Island where there’s adequate space for both Meigs and a park to exist.”