An FBI/Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report that made only a few passing references to general aviation aircraft being used by terrorists nevertheless provided fodder for newspapers and broadcast news media for several days last month and prompted general aviation interest groups to activate extensive damage control.
Having missed the October 1 deadline for funding nine of the 13 government agencies that had been neglected, a lame-duck Congress made up for that lack of action after the November elections by enacting the Fiscal Year 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act, a $388 billion “Omnibus” spending package, contained in a 3,000-page document that weighed some 14 pounds.
As anticipated, there have been numerous changes in the makeup of President Bush’s cabinet. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Tom Ridge turned in his resignation, effective February 1 or until the Senate names a successor. Ridge had the unenviable task of coordinating and integrating the activities of 22 government agencies with 180,000 employees into one department.
The 110th Congress opened for business on January 4, with the Democrats in control of the Senate and the House of Representatives. After the obligatory congratulatory oratory to honor newly elected legislators, Democrats began the process of showing that they can break the previous legislative deadlock by having both parties involved in solving the country’s problems.
Beginning today, all U.S. citizens and nonimmigrant aliens from Canada, Bermuda and Mexico entering the U.S. from within the Western Hemisphere at airports of entry will be required to present a valid passport. In lieu of a passport, U.S. citizens have been permitted to present a variety of documents to establish their identity and citizenship and right to enter the U.S.
The final report of the FAA/industry rulemaking age-60 committee is now posted on the agency’s Web site. The committee was unable to reach consensus on whether to increase the mandatory retirement age of 60 for airline pilots. The report can be viewed and downloaded at www.faa.gov/media/Final_Age_60_ARC_Report_11_29_2006.pdf.
As expected, the FAA extended the reservation and slot program under the high-density rule at New York La Guardia Airport. The program, which includes a slot-reservation system for general aviation operations (six slots are available per hour between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.), was set to expire January 1. The FAA has proposed a long-term rule in a notice of proposed rulemaking that would further limit the number of operations at La Guardia.
November 25 is the comment deadline for FAA’s proposed guidance on business aircraft wet leases.
In May last year, the FAA said it would delay until January 1 this year a decision to limit “priority service” for aircraft registration in connection with conducting international flights to allow only one request per aircraft (by N-number) in any three-month period due to staffing limitations at the agency’s aircraft registration branch.
In a November 22 letter to the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), the Transportation Security Administration said it has “begun the process of developing and instituting a security oversight and monitoring program for fractional ownership aircraft.