Utah politicians support lifting private aviation restrictions

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    By Erin Johnson

    Former Utah Senator Jake Garn called for the removal of private aviation restrictions Wednesday, Oct. 17.

    Garn testified Wednesday before the House Aviation Subcommittee concerning the Federal Aviation Administration”s restrictions on private aviation that have been in place since the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Garn called for the removal of the restrictions, saying they hurt airports without greatly improving security.

    Utah Rep. Jim Matheson concurred with Garn?s ideas in an aviation hearing Tuesday, Oct. 16.

    Because attention has been focused on major airline security, Matheson said he is worried that the FAA has forgotten about small business operators who depend on visual flight rule operations.

    ?With all the attention focused on the major airlines, cockpit doors, and security screeners, we seem to have forgotten our small operators, our private pilots, and our small business people who depend on visual flight rule operations,? he said.

    ?We should not forget that our aviation system is a public good, provided to all Americans,” he said. “When our government implements restrictions and mandates, it is the smallest operators that are hurt.”

    William Schumann, spokesman for the FAA, said such restrictions are necessary to increase safety in the air.

    ?Private pilots are understandably chaffing against flight restrictions on private aviation,? he said. ?But we?ve implemented these restrictions for reasons of national security and so you can conclude that we believe them to be necessary.?

    Since Sept. 11, most private aircrafts that fly near major airports and are classified under visual flight rules have been grounded.

    Aircrafts under visual flight rules are not required to file a flight plan and are responsible for avoiding other airplanes. Such airplanes generally fly below 18,000 feet and have to get prior approval before flying.

    The FAA has been gradually lifting restrictions on several cities over the past week and most recently lifted the ban at Salt Lake City airport Wednesday.

    ?This is another step in the FAA?s phased program to restore access to U.S. airspace,? FAA Administrator Jane F. Garvey said. ?We expect to take addi-tional actions to restore flying consistent with national security.?

    Although relaxing restrictions, the FAA admonished visual flight rule pilots to avoid aerobatics or unpredictable flight patterns.

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