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Sun, May 18, 2003

House Bill Could Allow DCA Charters, Banner Tows and More

NATA President James K. Coyne has praised key Congressional aviation leaders for their work earlier this week which could lead to restoring non-scheduled commercial flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). The Aviation Security Technical Corrections and Improvement Act would require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to "issue regulations allowing non-scheduled air carriers to operate at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport under a security program" approved by DHS. The provision would take effect 30 days after the bill's enactment into law.

The bill is sponsored by U.S. Reps. Don Young (R-AK), Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; James Oberstar (D-MN), Ranking Minority Member of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure; John Mica (R-FL), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Aviation, and Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Ranking Minority Member of the House Subcommittee on Aviation. It was approved Wednesday by the House Subcommittee on Aviation. 

"We are grateful to the leadership of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for this critical legislative provision," Coyne stated. "For 20 months, non-scheduled commercial operators have been unfairly prevented from operating at DCA with our airline counterparts.  This legislation would correct this injustice."

Commenting that this provision is also justified because of the recent security program implemented by non-scheduled commercial operators as of April 1, 2003, Coyne said, "With all non-scheduled commercial air carriers operating aircraft weighing 12,500 pounds or more now required to comply with a federal security program, we believe that this class of operator is on par with and may very well exceed the security of scheduled airlines at Washington National."

The provision allowing non-scheduled commercial flights back into DCA has been a priority for NATA, which filed a petition in March seeking new FAA rules allowing the restored operations at the airport. Only flights operated by scheduled airlines are allowed at DCA under procedures placed into effect after September 2001.

Also included in the legislation approved by the House Subcommittee on Aviation is a provision to repeal the prohibition on banner towing operations around sporting events. The measure would require banner towers to complete background checks prior to operating around these venues.

"We are quite pleased to see this provision included within the bill," Coyne stated. "The banner towing community has unfairly singled out since the September 2001 terrorist attacks. Incredibly, they have been prevented from operating, seemingly for commercial reasons. The Subcommittee's action corrects this injustice and all aviation businesses should be gratified with this step toward restoring their ability to make a living."

Other provisions included in the House aviation security bill would:

  • Modify rules governing U.S. flight schools that provide training to foreign students who have undergone background checks;
  • Provide pilots the ability to appeal the revocation of their pilot license for security matters; and,
  • Create a much-needed small business ombudsman within TSA.

"We thank the aviation leadership and their staff for their tireless efforts on this important legislation and anxiously look forward to these provisions becoming law," Coyne concluded.



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