HOPKINS, MINN. – In an August 19, 2015 letter, the president of the Minnesota Aviation Trades Association (MATA), Gregory J. Reigel of Reigel Law Firm, Hopkins, Minn., asked U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota to support the Pilot’s Bill of Rights II. The letter followed a meeting in which he and representatives from the Minnesota Business Aviation Association and Minnesota Council of Airports discussed aviation issues with several of the Senator’s staff members.
Reigel’s letter first briefed Senator Klobuchar on General Aviation in Minnesota noting there are 7,000 General Aviation (GA) aircraft registered in the state, operating from Minnesota’s 135 public-use airports, 80 heliports and 48 seaplane bases. Reigel further pointed out that of Minnesota’s 135 airports, 126 do not have commercial air/airline service, emphasizing the role GA plays in connecting all communities with the world.
Reigel noted that the 126 General Aviation airports add more than $433 million to the Minnesota economy, annually, and that Minnesota’s GA industry employs nearly 4,000 people that produce approximately $184 million in labor income, including Duluth-based Cirrus Aircraft, the second largest manufacturer of piston aircraft worldwide.
The letter went on to inform Senator Klobuchar that the GA industry is facing, and will continue to face, a shortage of pilots and aircraft technicians. To help reduce that shortage, the Pilot’s Bill of Rights II (PBOR2) has been introduced and is working its way through Congress. PBOR2 legislation would make improvements to the Pilot’s Bill of Rights (Public Law 112-153) that overwhelmingly passed the Senate and the House a few years ago by addressing a number of issues important to all segments of General Aviation.
“One of the key issues of PBOR2 includes expanding upon a current and successful FAA third-class medical exemption for certain General Aviation pilots,” Reigel explained to the senator. “PBOR2 will allow more pilots to fly without a third-class medical certificate, saving both pilots and the federal government millions of dollars each year without decreasing safety! PBOR2 will benefit the entire GA industry from aircraft manufacturers to flight schools to maintenance facilities. For these reasons, the Minnesota Aviation Trades Association urges you to sign on as a cosponsor of PBOR2.”
Reigel continued: “Additionally, as you debate the FAA’s upcoming Reauthorization, please keep in mind the GA industry’s need for a multi-year reauthorization that will sustain funding for multi-year projects.The FAA, and ultimately GA, need committed, long-term funding, rather than a string of continuing resolutions that only perpetuate uncertainty and insecurity within the entire aviation industry.
“Futhermore, Congress and the FAA need to retain authority over Air Traffic Control (ATC) and the National Airspace System (NAS). Transferring control of these air transportation systems to a ‘private entity’ funded by user fees (which have been repeatedly rejected by Congress) would not result in efficiencies or benefit the public. Rather, such a transfer would add bureaucracy and cost which would unduly burden and stifle the GA industry.”
Reigel concluded his letter by thanking Senator Klobuchar for being a member of the General Aviation Caucus and for supporting General Aviation, and offered to discuss these issues further at her convenience.
EDITOR’S NOTE: All pilots, airport managers and aviation business owners are urged to likewise contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives and encourage their support of the Pilot’s Bill of Rights II (PBOR2).