AOPA: No Substitute For Face-To-Face
The FAA's "virtual public meeting"
on the agency's proposed charity/sightseeing rule, which is really
nothing more than a week-long Internet chat session in which the
agency will respond during normal business hours to comments
submitted, will begin next Monday, Feb. 23. The FAA is holding the
chat session in lieu of real public meetings, despite calls from
Congress and AOPA for the face-to-face sessions.
"As anyone who has ever misinterpreted the intent of an e-mail
message can tell you, it's almost impossible to convey the emotion
of argument electronically," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.
"That's why we consider face-to-face meetings so vital in this
case. But since the 'virtual' meeting is the avenue the FAA has
chosen, we urge pilots to take part."
In October 2003, the FAA published a proposed rule that
Increase the minimum number of flight hours from 200 to 500 for
pilots who volunteer/donate their time and aircraft, providing
airplane rides to raise funds for charities;
Change the regulations governing
sightseeing operations conducted within 25 nm of an airport,
requiring these operators to obtain commercial certification under
Part 135, shutting down over 40-percent of these small businesses,
many of which fly classic aircraft. It would also impose new
requirements for air tour flights.
The online public meetings published in the Federal Register on
February 10, 2004, will run from 9:00 a.m. EST February 23 to 4:30
p.m. EST March Beginning Monday at 9 a.m., pilots may access the
online public meeting. Under the "View Docket/Comments" column,
click on "Enter Public Meeting," then follow the instructions to
participate in the discussion.
"The virtual meeting would be an acceptable addition to, but is
no substitute for, face-to-face meeting," said Boyer.