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Looming Threat to Air Tour Industry

House GA Caucus seeking co-signers to opposition letter

May 24, 2012 - A provision tucked into the Highway Reauthorization Bill before Congress would hand over unprecedented authority to the National Park Service for flights over national parks and tribal lands, grabbing control of the nation's airspace from the FAA and threatening jobs and companies of those involved in the air tour industry.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Rep. John Barrow (D-GA), co-chairmen of the House General Aviation Caucus, are seeking co-signers for a letter in opposition to the bill's provision, Section 100301 of Senate Bill 1813, the "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act." It would weaken a policy that balanced protection of the national parks with a safe and viable air tour industry, which allows thousands of people to enjoy the national parks from the air each year.

"This is a step backward in aviation safety and should be rejected in any surface transportation conference agreement," said Reps. Graves and Barrow in the letter.

"While the title of Section 100301 merely claims to make 'technical corrections' to the oversight of the air tour industry, it is nothing short of a full-scale, 26-page rewrite of existing law."

The two U.S. representatives are seeking co-signers to the letter, and asked EAA to encourage its members to contact their congressional representatives and urge them to be added as co-signers to it.

"We appreciate the attention of Rep. Graves and Rep. Barrow on this issue," said Sean Elliott, EAA's vice president of advocacy and safety. "It's important that FAA maintains the oversight of the National Airspace System, to prevent the creation of a confusing patchwork of regulations that threaten aviation activity."

The exact provision in Division G - "Air Transportation" can be found in Senate bill (S. 1813), near the end of the bill.

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