• Congress enjoyed a recess for the Thanksgiving holiday period, but not all members of the Senate availed themselves of the break. The Constitution gives a President authority to make appointments to top federal positions without Senate approval if that chamber is adjourned for more than three days without reconvening on the fourth.
Wondering if the 108th Congress has been busy? By early last month, the Senate saw 2,505 bills introduced and the House of Representatives, 4,520. Those figures are impressive and would indicate positive legislative activity.
By March 1, the Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Transportation Security Administration and Secret Service, must provide a report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations on the status of restoring access to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). The order is part of the FY 2005 DHS appropriations measure Congress approved last month.
The Senate voted late last night to extend the retirement age for Part 121 airline pilots to 65, sending the measure to President Bush to sign into law. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed H.R.4343, the Fair Treatment for Experienced Pilots Act, on a 390-0 roll call vote. Last night the Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent.
The maintenance industry received a 60-day extension from the FAA to review and comment on draft AC 145-RSTP. Comments are due March 22. The Advisory Circular defines the scope and description of the Part 145 Repair Station Training Program.
• One of the annual Washington rituals calls for the President to send Congress an administration budget proposal for the next fiscal year. President Bush followed through with a FY2007 plan asking for $27.7 trillion. The proposed budget would increase defense spending by 7 percent and cut some $15 billion from 141 programs in nine of 15 Cabinet agencies.
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta told a group of space-travel enthusiasts last month that the DOT/ FAA will be ready to issue permits for commercial space travel next year, and trips paid for by passengers could begin in 2008.
Perhaps one of the least appreciated benefits of corporate aviation is that its pilots and their passengers don’t have to endure the security procedures of crowded airport terminals. But the security hassles at the airport are the least of the concerns afflicting the senior managers at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Former Top Gun instructor-pilot Robert Sturgell, who took over the FAA as acting administrator when Marion Blakey completed her five-year term on September 13, has been nominated by President Bush to run the agency for the next five years.
• At press time, appropriations for the 12 government agencies were still in the holding pattern. As of the middle of last month it seemed unlikely that new bills would be approved by November 16, the last day of a Continuing Resolution that allowed agencies to continue doing business at the same spending level as last year.