Effective last month, the FAA lifted its long-time prohibition against most flight operations to and from Libya, as well as overflight restrictions. These limitations have been in effect in varying degrees since 1986 as part of U.S. sanctions against Libya after it was blamed for the bombing of a Berlin disco that killed two U.S. servicemen and wounded 79 Americans. The U.S.
It might be considered an honor for an established business jet manufacturer to get a visit from either President Bush or Senator John Kerry during this election year, but it was high praise indeed for start-up Eclipse Aviation to get visits from both presidential candidates.
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 108th Congress became history at the end of last year and its pending legislation died on the vine. Legislators in the 109th Congress, which was due to convene after the January 20 presidential inauguration, may consider which of the dead bills merit reconsideration and reintroduction. Legislator benefit by way of pleasing constituents comes first, and doing what is best for the country has a somewhat lower priority.
• 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.
NBAA welcomed the announcement yesterday that Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) will serve as the new ranking member of the Senate aviation subcommittee, replacing Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who last week announced plans to retire by year-end. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over a wide range of aviation issues including the FAA reauthorization legislation currently circulating through Congress.
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.
In a major deal announced at the Dubai Air Show last month, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of the Interior ordered 40 Sikorskys. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in March.
VIP and government flight specialist Dubai Air Wing has ordered two AW139s in executive configuration. In Qatar, Gulf Helicopters has ordered 10 AW139s for offshore-oil passenger transport.