Organization Responds To Senator's Off-The-Cuff Comments
AOPA quickly responded
to a senator's mischaracterization of general aviation during a
hearing last week. Senator John D. "Jay" Rockefeller (D-WV) called
aircraft "killing machines," saying large corporate aircraft could
inflict half the damage seen on September 11, 2001.
"More than 70 percent of the general aviation fleet are small,
single-engine aircraft with six or fewer seats, typically weighing
less than a small economy car with the ability to carry even less
cargo," AOPA President Phil Boyer wrote Rockefeller. "They have
less than 1 percent the mass of large airliner."
Boyer noted that Rockefeller (below, right) has been an advocate
for general aviation and has worked to bring aviation businesses
such as Tiger Aircraft Corporation and Sino Swearingen Aircraft
Company to West Virginia.
"That's why I was both surprised and shocked by your comments at
last week's aviation subcommittee hearing," Boyer wrote. "As the
president of the largest organization representing this segment of
aviation, I'm very concerned by this statement."
Boyer sent Rockefeller pictures of the suicide crash of a Cessna
172 into a Tampa office building and the crash of a Cessna 150 on
the White House grounds.
The incidents "demonstrate the ineffectiveness of a general
aviation aircraft as a terrorist weapon," he said. "While I would
prefer that these accidents had not occurred, they underscore that
these aircraft do not present a threat to the nation."
He reminded the senator
that AOPA had taken a lead role in protecting the nation's aviation
infrastructure by investing more than $700,000 in the AOPA Airport
Watch program. "Our members recognize the responsibilities the
nation's pilots must assume to help keep the US safe and secure.
They also know that airline-type security is not necessary, nor is
it feasible, for general aviation."
Boyer detailed other security measures taken by industry and
government, including strict regulation and screening of all
pilots; new photo ID requirements along with harder-to-counterfeit
pilot certificates; flight school security enhancements; numerous
flight restrictions nationwide; and the Transportation Security
Administration's "Security Guidelines for General Aviation
FMI: Boyer's Letter To Rockefeller