Meets With Oregon Sen. Wyden
AOPA President Phil Boyer met with Oregon Senator Ron Wyden
(D-Ore.) to talk about security at general aviation airports. Wyden
has been a staunch advocate for tight airline and air cargo
security, but Boyer pointed out that air carrier-style security is
neither necessary nor workable at GA airports.
"I explained to Senator Wyden that while the Transportation
Security Administration dealt with the immediate problem of
security at the nation's air carrier airports, AOPA turned its
attention and its resources toward addressing GA airports by
developing the Airport Watch program," said Boyer. "We invested
some three quarters of a million dollars in developing what amounts
to a neighborhood watch for our community — our local
Boyer told Wyden that AOPA sent an Airport Watch brochure to
every one of its approximately 400,000 members and developed signs
and posters to be displayed at thousands of airports all across the
country. And he said Airport Watch impressed TSA enough that the
agency invested a half-million dollars of its own budget to staff a
toll-free nationwide hotline (800-GA-SECURE or 800-427-3287) for
pilots to report suspicious airport activity. TSA also agreed to
mail Airport Watch brochures to the remaining third of U.S. pilots
who are not members of AOPA.
The senator, who understands the importance of GA both to his
state and the country, appreciated the simple effectiveness of
using hundreds of thousands of pilots to help secure the thousands
of GA facilities.
Boyer and Wyden also discussed privatization of the air traffic
control system. Wyden has been an outspoken critic of efforts to
privatize ATC. Boyer asked Wyden to back AOPA's call for the FAA
Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2005 to expressly prohibit new
aviation user fees.
The two also discussed aviation issues much closer to home for
Wyden. The senator voiced support for GA pilots at Eugene's Mahlon
Sweet Field who are trying to prevent the closure of the airport's
crosswind runway. Boyer explained that the plan is based on an
outdated forecast of air carrier activity in Eugene and wind data
averaged over an entire year that ignore prevalent conditions
during the winter months.
Oregon is also home to one of the leaders in avionics
development — Garmin AT. Boyer explained that Garmin AT had
developed an affordable technology that could give every pilot
real-time air traffic information in the cockpit while providing
air traffic controllers information from areas not covered by
Garmin AT has also developed the first certificated
panel-mounted GPS receiver to be able to use the FAA's wide area
augmentation system, or WAAS, Boyer told Wyden. Boyer urged Wyden
to support continued funding for WAAS, which provides precise
satellite-based vertical guidance. WAAS, he said, will open access
to potentially thousands of airports during foul weather by
providing ILS-like precision approaches.
"Senator Wyden is a very active member of the Senate aviation
subcommittee," said Boyer. "This was an golden opportunity to bring
some of AOPA members' most important issues to his attention."