SecTrans Grants ADIZ Comment Extension, Promises Hearings
During an introductory General Session at the Aircraft Owners
and Pilots Association Expo in Tampa, Florida, Secretary of
Transportation Norman Y. Mineta announced that he had granted a
90-day extension to the comment period on the Washington, DC, area
Mineta's voice grew stern when he discussed airspace violations,
which he described as a near-daily occurrence. "It's an issue of
accountability," he said to the audience. which consisted mostly of
pilots and people closely aligned with aviation. He blamed the
closure of Potomac Airfield on "continued violations," which is the
most detailed statement any government official has made on the
He bluntly told the AOPA
members to forget about a change in the post-911 security regime;
in his view, the changes are permanent. But he agreed to
In an introduction that recapped Mineta's career, and his many
connections with aviation (two sons are pilots for Delta and
SkyWest; his wife is a retired United flight attendant, and he was
a principal author of the General Aviation Revitalization Act),
AOPA President Phil Boyer mentioned the 17,682 comments on the
Notice of Proposed Rule Making.
Mineta took evident pleasure in correcting Boyer's numbers. "My
latest count is 17,912, not 17,682," the Secretary said with a
grin. He quipped that he hadn't personally read them all yet (an
But then he dropped his bombshell. "I have directed the FAA to
reopen the comment period for 90 days," he said, producing
spontaneous applause. But he wasn't done.
"There will be a full public meeting," Mineta said, producing
another burst of applause. He went on to say that the government
will not just be represented by Transportation agencies such as
FAA, but that security agencies -- the true, shadowy, and
previously unaccountable powers behind the airspace grab -- will be
present at the hearing.
After Mineta concluded his remarks, Phil Boyer thanked him,
pointing out that the 90 day comment period was longer than the
organization had pressed for -- or expected.
This is no commitment to change the ADIZ proposal, but the
commitment to listen is an important step. The information on the
comment extension and the public hearing (or hearings; AOPA is
already pushing to have multiple hearings around the country, not
just one in Washington) will be published in the Federal
Instructions to make a comment on the ADIZ are available on
AOPA's website at www.aopa.org/adizalert
and Aero-News is assured that the Department of Transportation
staff are reading -- and tallying -- the comments.
We'll be carrying more from Secretary Mineta's significant
speech in real time today, and it will also be featured in
tomorrow's Aero-News Special Report Aero-Cast.