Recent Bills Drawing Opposition from General Aviation Industry

 - November 26, 2019, 11:08 AM

Six business and general aviation and helicopter organizations have joined forces to oppose three recently introduced bills that would restrict operations. NBAA, among the organizations that wrote letters, added that the bills would upend the current regulatory model and stifle future innovation.

The organizations collectively wrote House leaders objecting to a bill that would essentially ban helicopter operations over New York City. That legislation, the Improving Helicopter Safety Act of 2019 (H.R.4880), “attempts to restrict general aviation’s access to airspace and undermine the federal preemption,” the organizations said.

They charged that the bill would not positively affect the safety of commuters and other passengers and contend that “its negative impacts would be immediate and significant. It would completely dismantle a thriving rotorcraft industry in affected areas, dealing a devastating blow to the many businesses that depend on and support it."

The groups further called the bill a dangerous precedent for future legislative restrictions.

In addition, the groups expressed opposition to the Safe and Quiet Skies Act (H.R.4547), which would restrict air tour operations, including over national parks and other areas of interest, and facilitate the prohibition of specific flight routes, altitudes, and common procedures. It further would establish noise limitations that no currently certified helicopter can meet.

The groups reiterated the concern of the ceding of federal authority. “H.R.4547 enables local governments to impose additional requirements and restrictions on commercial air tours including outright banning of such tours,” they said. “Both bills, whether through undermining federal preemption or prescribing unwarranted airspace restrictions on general aviation, would be detrimental to the industry and the National Airspace System (NAS).”

In a separate letter to Senate leaders, the groups expressed strong opposition to S.2607, the Drone Integration and Zoning Act, saying it “compromises safety in the NAS and jeopardizes the growth and success of the commercial unmanned aircraft system (UAS) industry through an unwarranted, unnecessary, and unsafe departure from the 40-year standard of federal preemption.”

The legislation would enable local governments to impose their own restrictions on commercial UAS operations, they said. “It would be premature to legislate new rules before the U.S. Department of Transportation’s UAS Integration Pilot Program has concluded.”

A core mission of that program is to work out the coordination between the FAA, state, and local entities on rules covering low-altitude operations.

“Uniform federal authority is an essential predicate to maintaining safe and efficient transportation in the nation’s airspace,” they said. “Any changes to this well-understood federal authority will open the door to creating a tangle of state aviation regulatory regimes.”

Signing the letters were NBAA, AOPA, EAA, GAMA, HAI, and NATA.