Almost three months after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, people still talk–perhaps now more wistfully than hopefully–about “when things return to normal.” But as a high-level FAA official posed recently, “How are we going to define the new normal?”
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has asked governors, local officials–such as airport directors and metropolitan planning organizations–and other transportation leaders to nominate high-priority projects that the Transportation Department can give expedited agency reviews for permits.
Declaring that “this meeting is not designed to ask for a bailout of the American airline industry,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donohue said last month at the chamber’s second annual national aviation summit that “we’re simply asking government not to require the airline industry to absorb more than its fair share of the costs associated with the war on terrorism and defense of our homeland.”
In the midst of all the major funding and other legislation, a number of aviation matters were addressed:
In recent weeks, Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) all sent letters to DOT Secretary Norman Mineta encouraging the agency and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to recognize the unique characteristics of the on-demand air-taxi industry as both agencies initiate new aviation security requirements.
The Bush Administration has proposed spending $759 billion next year for government agencies and programs other than Social Security, but more than half has been earmarked (not to be confused with pork-barrel earmarking) for the military, homeland security and foreign aid.
In a move seen by many observers as a first step in privatizing the nation’s ATC services, President Bush amended an executive order issued by President Clinton in December 2000 that made ATC an “inherently governmental function.”
The FAA Management Advisory Council (MAC) should have more representation from general aviation, AOPA told Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta early last month. The MAC counsels FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and senior agency leadership on management, policy, spending and regulatory matters.
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta told a group of space-travel enthusiasts last month that the DOT/ FAA will be ready to issue permits for commercial space travel next year, and trips paid for by passengers could begin in 2008.
Former Top Gun instructor-pilot Robert Sturgell, who took over the FAA as acting administrator when Marion Blakey completed her five-year term on September 13, has been nominated by President Bush to run the agency for the next five years.