SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOCPLEASE NOTE: The following transcript is a portion of the official hearing record of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Additional material pertinent to this transcript may be found on the web site of the Committee at [http://www.house.gov/transportation]. Complete hearing records are available for review at the Committee offices and also may be purchased at the U.S. Government Printing Office.
WAYS TO REDUCE UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATES AND REGULATORY BURDENS ON THE AVIATION INDUSTRY WITHOUT AFFECTING THE SAFETY OF THE TRAVELING PUBLIC
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1995
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Aviation,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 1 p.m., in Room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John J. Duncan, Jr. (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. DUNCAN. I would like to go ahead and call this subcommittee meeting to order and welcome everybody here. I look forward this year to serving as Aviation Subcommittee Chairman and working especially with former Chairman Oberstar and everyone in the aviation community to improve our great system for the benefit of all.
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Today we will do our part to fulfill our Contract with the American people. Among other things, that contract calls for action to increase economic opportunity and toward that end focuses on unfunded Federal mandates and regulatory reform or regulatory relief.
Accordingly, the House has been working to pass H.R. 5, the Unfunded Mandate Reform Act of 1995. However, H.R. 5 deals only with unfunded mandates to be imposed in the future. It is also important to look at those mandates already in place, to consider whether changes are justified or necessary.
In tackling this issue we do not intend to do anything to jeopardize passenger safety. Indeed, the title of this hearing, ''Reducing Unfunded Federal Mandates and Regulatory Burdens Without Affecting the Safety of the Traveling Public,'' reflects that commitment.
Nevertheless, I suspect that there are many regulations and mandates that could be reconsidered without jeopardizing passenger safety. At any rate, this hearing provides the aviation community an opportunity to make that case for regulatory relief.
Depending on the testimony today, we will decide whether to proceed with legislation at a later point. This hearing is particularly timely. It was a little more than a year ago that the commission, appointed by President Clinton to examine the problems of the airline industry, found that Federal regulations imposed a massive cumulative burden on airlines and have a direct and adverse impact on airlines' financial condition and the air transportation system as a whole.
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Of course, there are differing estimates over exactly what the cumulative burden of regulations is on the airline industry, but in the final analysis, our review of aviation regulations is not about the cost burden, but about safety.
Right now the system is remarkably safe. Because it is so safe, it can be very expensive to achieve even small improvements in safety through new legislation or regulations.
Therefore in reviewing aviation regulations, we want to insure that air travel is not becoming or does not become so heavily regulated that costs shoot way up. If that happens, millions of people could find air travel too expensive and as a result be forced on to our already overcrowded highways where the dangers are much greater. So as in much other legislation, we have to strike a balance in this hearing and any subsequent legislation we will try our very best to strike that balance.
I want to thank all of the witnesses for appearing today. I have previously read their testimony, and I think we are in for a very interesting and informative hearing. I appreciate the witnesses coming and I appreciate the Members coming.
I particularly want to pay tribute to former Chairman Oberstar, with whom I have worked so closely in the past and who is one of the recognized experts within our government in the field of aviation, and I look forward to working with Mr. Oberstar in this Congress. I also want to, since this is the first hearing, we have actually had two meetings of this subcommittee that have been very fine meetings.
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We have had an outstanding agency briefing by the FAA, and that was well attended and very informative and educational, and then we had a meeting with Secretary Peña. We had breakfast with him at the Department of Transportation, and that was a good, well-attended and very worthwhile meeting as well, but this is the first hearing of the subcommittee, and so I would like to publicly thank my Chairman, Mr. Shuster, a man for whom I have the very greatest respect and admiration for placing his confidence in me and allowing me to serve at least in this Congress and, hopefully, in some others as Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, and so without further comments from me, I would like to at this time call on the Chairman of the full committee, Mr. Shuster from Pennsylvania.
Mr. SHUSTER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I am certainly pleased that we are having these very important hearings today, and I congratulate you for moving so expeditiously. You talked about aviation safety, and how driving the costs up too high may well force more people on to our highways.
I recall a statistic I saw recently which says that if you are driving on the highway, the chances of being killed are about 18 times greater than if you are flying in a major commercial airliner. I think the safety record of the aviation community is absolutely extraordinary. Indeed every time there is a crash, it is something of great concern to all of us, and we certainly always want to be working toward making the safest aviation system in the world even more safe. But I think we also have to do it, as you have said, with a sensitivity to the cost-benefit ratio.
I also, with regard to so-called unfunded mandates or regulatory burdens, was struck by information I received just recently about a general aviation airport in Morristown, New Jersey, where the airport tried to get permission to trim or remove trees which were blocking the air traffic controller's view of the taxiways and the final approach. Of course, this was impacting safety at the airport.
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The State environmental people said the airport allowed to trim the trees because the trees were located in a wetland. As hard as that is to believe, that kind of thing goes on. The State's environmental people said the solution was to move the tower, which would have cost several millions of dollars. Finally, after many months of fighting back and forth, the airport was allowed to cut down a few trees, but the whole process went on for over a year and cost the airport thousands of dollars.
I think this is just an example of the kind of overregulation and the bizarre guidelines that we sometimes lay upon our airports, and for that matter on the various levels of both government and the private sector. It is the kind of thing we are trying to address in this hearing. So thank you very much, and I look forward to the hearings.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and at this time I will call on, for his opening remarks, my good friend Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and congratulations on your first hearing.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I wish you all the very best of leadership for this committee. I know you are going to work very hard at it. You already have demonstrated your commitment to aviation and to this subcommittee. You have been a very diligent participant in our deliberations in the past, and I know from our conversations that you are going to continue that kind of leadership and performance in the future.
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This is an exciting time for you and a great opportunity, and I understand what you must be feeling because I had those same feelings myself years ago when I first assumed a chairmanship of a subcommittee, and also the heavy sense of responsibility.
I look forward to working with you as I worked with Bill Clinger for so many years in a partnership that goes back to 1982. We combined our efforts on good and valuable public policy issues, and if it was Chairman Shuster's choice to select you to be the Chair of the subcommittee, he is indeed a wise and diligent and thoughtful leader.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. OBERSTAR. As we consider the issues before us today, we do have to remember that what is at stake is a system of aviation safety, and a system of aviation security that did not go into place by accident. It wasn't grafted on to aviation. It wasn't carried down from the mountaintop on stone tablets, but was pulled from the wreckage of aircraft, pulled from dismembered bodies and broken families, pulled from the wisdom of aviators.
It was pulled from the private sector and the public sector together working for the best that we can do to keep aviation safe because in its early years it wasn't safe. We have made it safe because people of goodwill, of determination, of good conscience, of engineering skill, of dedication to the safety of those who travel by air have made it so.
In security, we are haunted by the tragedy of Pan Am 103, and by other tragedies. We remember back to 1969 and subsequent years when there was one skyjacking every two weeks. We think today about security in which over 2,000 weapons a year are still confiscated at the Nations' airports. Over 9 to 10 billion bags are screened every year, hundreds of millions of passengers, and we haven't had a skyjacking in the United States because we have had good security, and we have made it happen. This committee has been the leader in the forefront of protecting air travelers against terrorist attacks at home and abroad that we see happening elsewhere around this world.
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It doesn't happen in the United States, and some of us may get aggravated that those metal detectors stop us and slow things up, but oh how much better it is than to have the plane go to Cuba or some other unintended destination or blow up before it gets to its destination.
The overwhelming majority of safety and security regulations are sound and have been a critical factor in the achievement of the industry's outstanding safety record and is why people readily buy tickets to go on board American airlines without hesitation. We have got to keep it that way. We have a commitment to keep it that way, and a partnership to keep it that way.
Let's take a look at the FAA's safety and security rulemaking between 1984 and 1993, it. The Airline Commission criticized FAA's rulemaking, claiming that those rules imposed added costs of $5 billion on the airlines. It sounds big. Look more closely.
The added costs were estimated to occur over a period of 10 years. That is added costs of about 1 percent a year. More importantly, the list of 18 rules enacted between 1984 and 1993 that they cited sounds to me like an honor roll of safety reformfire blocking seat cushions. How many times have we had testimony in this committee of people crawling through the wreckage of an aircraft, pulling soot out of their eyes and out of their mouth from the smoke billowing from cushions and fabric and plastics inside the aircraft? They couldn't find their way to an exit, their noses were blocked, their eyes were covered, their mouths filled.
Former Speaker Jim Wright, when he chaired the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee, had this astonishing dramatic testimony. I shall never forget it. That doesn't happen now because the FAA got to work on fire blocking materials and we made it a regulation and now you don't have that kind of tragedy occurring.
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FAA has required improved cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders that measure far more parameters than we measured in the past. The absence of a number of parameters on the U.S. Air crash in Pittsburgh has impeded the ability of the National Transportation Safety Board to come to more conclusive determination of the cause.
Wind shear detection, collision avoidance equipment, deicing requirements, training requirements, all of those were completed in that decade. I don't understand why the Commission would find fault with those. They have saved lives, and the unfortunate thing is that the lives saved never become headlines because the crash doesn't occur. A safe flight doesn't make the nightly news. The list of regulations also includes legislation that we initiated in this committee on a bipartisan basis to require phase-out of stage 2 aircraft by the end of this decade, taking down from 2,350 stage 2 aircraft to less than 600 by the end of the decade, to make it possible to expand aviation, and keep airports competitive and airlines competitive. This was for their own good and for their own benefit; or citizen outcry would have shut down airports and shut down airlines.
There are also two items that I looked at very carefully included in that list whose objective was sound but to which it is possible costs could be reducedrandom drug testing and controlled access to secured areas of airports. We have been looking for ways to reduce these costs.
We also have to point out that the 50 percent rate of drug testing on a random basis was initially strongly supported by the airlines who now object to that level of testing. The controlled access systems were put in place by former Secretaries of Transportation Skinner and Burnley.
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We are going to hear from airports about environmental requirements imposed by State and Federal regulation. There are also environmental protections that people in our communities want; homeowners near airports want to be compensated when noise becomes intolerable. If you can't control noise, then you are going to have a reduction in the amount of airline service.
We have also determined that disabled people ought to have access to airports and airlines, and we have made some adjustments in the legislation for airports and airlines to accommodate disabled citizens. I think it is a substantial overstatement to say that those requirements or mandates, as they are now being called, are unfunded because noise abatement is funded by AIP grants, millions of dollars have been approved by the FAA for noise abatement and environmental mitigation at airports, without which some of that development couldn't have taken place.
Airports have also received a lot of Federal assistance for nonregulatory costs. In that period of 1984 to 1993 airports received $13.5 billion in AIP grants. That is not an unfunded mandate. They also enjoy the benefits of an air traffic control system without which they could not operate. I look forward to an exchange of ideas here this afternoon, Mr. Chairman, and I think we have got a lot of things we need to talk about.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Oberstar, and I would also like to welcome the other Members who have just come in. I will say just as a general practice we will try as much as is humanly possible to start these hearings right on time. We were able to start this one right at 1:00, and we will try to do that in the future. We have a very busy agenda, a very active schedule.
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In the months ahead, we will be having many hearings. In addition, the Members might be interested to know that we are working on plans in a few months to go around and visit some of the major aviation facilities around the country and hopefully learn some more in that way also in addition to our busy hearing schedule.
I would like to introduce at this timeChairman Shuster, in a very wise decision, I think, has chosen one of our freshmen Republican Members of each subcommittee as Vice Chairmen, and the Vice Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee is Mr. Jerry Weller from Illinois, and Mr. Weller, do you have anything you would like to say at this time?
Mr. WELLER. I do have a brief opening comment, Mr. Chairman. Again, I wish to thank you and Chairman Shuster for the opportunity to serve as your Vice Chairman, and I also want to thank you for holding what I believe are the first of many important hearings.
As we consider the Contract With America and specifically the unfunded mandate bill, I believe it is very important to take a close look at the programs over which we in this Aviation Subcommittee have jurisdiction. While we are striving to decrease the size and the amount of government red tape and regulation, we must use caution that we do not compromise safety.
Statistics show that air travel is consistently amongst the safest forms of transportation. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that the odds of losing one's life in a car crash are 1 in 125, while the odds that you will lose one's life in an air crash are 1 in 4.6 million.
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As we begin to streamline and reduce regulation, let's remember the safety of our passengers is always of utmost importance. Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to serve with you, and I look forward to hearing today's testimony.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Weller. I will ask that any other Members who have opening statements place their statements in the record, but I do know that Congressman Clement has a very important constituent here, and Congressman Clement, if you would like to welcome your constituent at this time, you certainly may do so.
[The prepared statements of Rep. Clement, Rep. Costello, and Rep. Martini follow:]
[Insert folios 15 here.]
Mr. CLEMENT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman and I are both from the same State, Tennessee, and we have Tim Campbell here today, and we appreciate you being here, appreciate all the panel being here that are testifying today because these are very important issues on our behalf.
We have got a good Chairman. Jim Duncan and I go back, we started together at the University of Tennessee several years ago, and I know he will offer a lot of leadership and a lot of vision for this committee, and it is a pleasure to serve with him. The only thing I don't understand, I got here before he did, and he is already Chairman.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. Luck of the draw. All right. I will ask that the witnesses, we will place your full statements in the record, and I would like to ask that you hold your opening comments to about five or six minutes each, and then we will have time for questions from each of the Members, and, gentlemen, you may now proceed.
Mr. Campbell, since you are from Tennessee, we will just let you go first.
TESTIMONY OF TIMOTHY CAMPBELL, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE METROPOLITAN NASHVILLE AIRPORT AUTHORITY, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF AIRPORT EXECUTIVES (AAAE), ON BEHALF OF AAAE AND AIRPORTS COUNCIL INTERNATIONAL, NORTH AMERICA
Mr. CAMPBELL. Great. Thanks very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you very much, Representative Clement. It has been my pleasure to work with Mr. Clement as our representative for Nashville for the past 8 years or so during my tenure there, and we are very appreciative of the very large amount of help and support that we have received from you, sir, and we appreciate that.
It was also my pleasure when I was in Knoxville running the Knoxville Airport in the early 1980s to work with your father, Mr. Chairman, and as I indicated to you earlier, he was very helpful to the Knoxville Airport at that time, and we really appreciate that.
As was indicated, I am Tim Campbell. I am the Executive Vice President of the Nashville Airport Authority and I am also the Chairman of the American Association of Airport Executives this year, and I will be offering testimony on behalf of AAAE and also Airports Council International-North America.
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As indicated, our comments, full comments have been submitted for the record, and I would like to make just a few brief points, if I could. First, let me make clear that airports are not asking to be exempted from compliance with needed safety, security, and environmental mandates. We would, however, like to point out to the subcommittee that airports face a myriad of legislative and regulatory mandates from the Federal Government and more often than not these mandates have been imposed without providing adequate funding for full compliance.
There is no question that funding has been provided for the majority of these mandates. Oftentimes it is not completely adequate to fully fund those mandates. Let me offer just a couple of examples for the committee's consideration.
There are additional examples in the written testimony that have been submitted. Compliance costs run millions of dollars a year for compliance with environmental regulations. For many airports, especially the smaller airports, these costs can be staggering. In addition to the costs airports are oftentimes frustrated by the lack of coordination between various arms of government. This is particularly true when it comes to balancing out safety mandates and environmental mandates.
Chairman Shuster mentioned an example from Morristown, New Jersey, earlier. Let me just flesh out that example a little bit for the committee's consideration. Federal aviation regulation part 77 requires airports to insure that there are no obstructions in the clear zones of a runway approach.
At Morristown, New Jersey, the airport needed to trim some tree tops which were threatening to obstruct the view of the approach from the control tower and were already partially blocking the view of the tower to the airport's busiest taxiway. The problem was the trees also were in a wetland.
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The airport director was told he could not trim the trees because it would disturb that wetland. He was told that rather than trim the tree tops perhaps a new control tower should be built. It didn't seem to make much sense to us. In addition to environmental mandates, the Federal Government has imposed a number of security mandates imposed on airports, as was indicated earlier.
Again, another example, security access. Several years ago in response to an incident where a disgruntled former airline employee was able to gain access to an aircraft with a weapon, the government required that access to commercial aircraft be significantly tightened. The FAA estimated that compliance costs for the industry would be approximately a hundred million dollars, but the industry has already spent over $800 million in complying with that mandate.
Although some airports were able to use AIP funds to help with those installation costs, the yearly operations and maintenance costs of those systems are very expensive and are not eligible for Federal funding. Let me go on to add also that at many airports AIP funds were committed for other capacity or safety-related items and there were not sufficient funds to allow the airport to utilize AIP money for the installation of this security access system.
Let me conclude with a certification example. In response to the recent commuter aircraft crashes the FAA, as we understand it, is prepared to send Congress legislation to require full part 139 compliance certification for all airports with scheduled air carrier service with 10 or more seats. The current law requires this for airports with carrier service of 30 or more seats.
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Most airports in the country fall into this category. This would require some of the smallest airports in the country to purchase additional expensive equipment and add personnel at their airports. This would be extremely costly, particularly the personnel costs which are not eligible for Federal funding. Presumably the acquisition of fire trucks and other related safety equipment would be eligible, but the ongoing operating costs are staggering.
Furthermore, there is no accident or incident evidence to suggest that the recent commuter aircraft problems have had anything to do with the certification status of the airport. Additional mandatory regulations, particularly those without a Federal funding mechanism, are not the answer.
We hope that the subcommittee will examine this proposal with a critical eye before considering its adoption. The airport community appreciates the efforts of the subcommittee to examine the issue of unfunded mandates, both existing and contemplated, and I would be pleased to answer any questions. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Campbell.
Mr. Landry, we will now hear your testimony, please.
TESTIMONY OF JAMES E. LANDRY, PRESIDENT, AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
Mr. LANDRY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Jim Landry. I am the President of the Air Transport Association. We appreciate the opportunity to discuss regulatory reform with you. This issue has extraordinary implications for the future economic health of the airline industry and the welfare of our customers and employees.
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To place this discussion in some context, the airline industry is regulated not only by the Department of Transportation and the FAA, but also by such disparate Federal agencies as the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Justice, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Department of Treasury.
As this array of agencies suggest, regulation is an enormous and costly enterprise for this industry and the government. Despite four significant regulatory reform initiatives that have been embarked upon in the last four years, the FAA's aviation rulemaking advisory committee, the 1992 Bush administration regulatory moratorium, the 1993 National Aviation Commission Report and the Clinton Administration's response, and the 1994 FAA regulatory reform initiative, the airline industry remains subject to a regulatory system that cries out for rationalization and downsizing.
That system is rooted in the 1930s. It is clearly unprepared to meet the twin challenges of an industry that is utterly dependent upon ever more technologically advanced equipment and the imminent contraction of the Federal budget.
In good times, this would be an unsatisfactory state of affairs. Given the fact that the U.S. airline industry has suffered $12.5 billion in losses since 1990, it is an unbearable situation. We simply cannot afford the regulatory process as it is currently constituted. Airlines are subsidizing the failure of the Federal Government to manage its regulatory responsibilities sensibly. That failure is a covert tax on the airlines and their customers, employees, and shareholders.
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Unjustified or inefficient regulatory requirements generate unnecessary compliance costs which ultimately diminish services and inflate prices. These consequences injure those who depend upon the airline industry. Moreover, a regulatory program that lacks discipline always risks producing mandates that are of inadequate quality.
In an industry as complex and technologically sophisticated as ours, this is a significant concern. Finally, a regulatory program that lacks discipline imposes significant costs upon the regulatory agency. Poorly managed programs invariably misallocate scarce agency resources. Looming budget reductions will increasingly penalize such misallocations.
The cumulative effect of our dealings with regulatory agencies and the ineffective regulatory reform efforts of the recent past have left us frustrated and skeptical. We think that it is time to move beyond lip service to action in reducing regulatory burdens on the airline industry.
I want to underscore one point before I proceed. We are not trying to gut the system of safety regulation of our industry. Indeed, we routinely exceed regulatory safety requirements. Rather, we are advocating that the regulatory system be genuinely reformed. Successful reformation will produce better problem solving.
By that I mean that the finite resources of the government and the private sector will be concentrated on fewer but more uniformly worthy issues. The combined expertise of government and industry will be used to evaluate problems. Rigorous cost-benefit analysis will be the touchstone for judging every regulatory proposal and solutions will be more efficiently implemented.
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Several bills have been introduced in Congress that would statutorily reform the regulatory process. We share the concerns of their sponsors about curbing excessive regulatory costs and the need as part of that effort for agencies to produce high quality cost benefit analyses. Some of these bills include the concept of regulatory budget.
While that idea is worth serious examination, we are aware that the manner in which such a budget is allocated among regulatory agencies and functions within an agency will be of decisive importance. Of particular interest to us is whether under a regulatory budget the DOT would have the freedom to shift allocations between its modal administrations.
The regulatory moratorium proposed in some of this legislation could serve as useful respite during which Federal agencies overhaul their methods of rulemaking. What we very much want to avoid, however, is an undertaking that neither restructures the regulatory process nor discards or revises burdensome existing regulations. However, regulatory reform is initiated, the airline industry believes that it should be guided by four central principles.
We firmly believe that regulatory agencies, particularly FAA and DOT, must first reduce the number of rulemaking proceedings; second, conduct rigorous cost-benefit analyses; third, rely upon smaller, more flexible FAA industry working groups to respond to regulatory issues; and fourth, adopt a quality improvement-oriented enforcement program.
Although we have been critical of regulators, we realize that they function in an environment in which they receive sometimes conflicting signals from various interests, including elected officials. This, we surmise, reflects decreasing confidence in the regulatory system. We think that this is all the more reason why the system should be overhauled so that all reasonable persons can have renewed confidence in its results. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Landry. Those were some very good suggestions, particularly those four, the last four points that you made, and thank you for being with us today.
Mr. Coyne, it is an honor to have you with us, a former Member of the House, and it is a privilege to have you here, sir, and you may begin your testimony.
TESTIMONY OF JAMES K. COYNE, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL AIR TRANSPORTATION ASSOCIATION
Mr. COYNE. Mr. Chairman, believe me, it is my privilege to be here with you today and to welcome you to your position as chairmanship of this very important subcommittee. I would also like to send my best wishes to former Chairmen Oberstar and Mineta, and I would like to say to Mr. Clement, as someone who served in Congress 1980 and on, I didn't even get beyond the first row here up to the top bank of chairs, so congratulations on your position on the committee as well, but as, of course, representative today of the National Air Transportation Association, I am very privileged to express the views of our many members across the country who share, I am pleased to say, the points of view of the airports and the airlines on this important issue.
I think it was Harry Truman, if I may paraphrase him, who said that for every complicated problem there is usually a very simple, popular, easily publicized, inexpensive and wrong solution, and that is often the case in safety when it comes to aviation. Clearly, we all know in aviation how terribly important that problem and that challenge is, but it is important for the regulators in our society to understand that in many cases the industry working together with government can achieve far more successful safety regulation than under the current system of unfunded mandates and random regulatory procedures, also procedures that vary very differently across country from region to region.
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Of course, you have heard from the air carriers and the airlines, and the airports, and I think as Mr. Oberstar pointed out, those entities have very generous sources of capital in many cases to respond to the needs of safety mandates that are handed down from the government, but even in their cases they find that meeting these regulations is difficult.
In the case of the members of NATA, it is a very different situation. Our members represent the thousands of individual small businesses across the country that support our national air transportation system. It is this infrastructure of private sector businesses that in many respects provides the service to places like east Tennessee and northern Minnesota that are oftentimes far removed from the air service of traditional airline hubs.
These small businesses, more often than not, don't have the access to capital and large economic resources. They certainly don't have the access to Federal funding, AIP funding. For them to meet the safety regulations and mandates imposed by government is often a choice between surviving financially or not. Even more burdensome is when they are faced with safety choices internally that they believe may be more positive for aviation safety and yet a mandated requirement passed down from the Federal Government forces them to spend funds, thereby depriving them of the resources to invest in what they consider more critical aviation safety needs.
To give you just one example, it is not uncommon today for small air charter firms, flight schools, FBOs across the country to be faced with a burden of spending thousands and thousands of dollars on drug testing and alcohol testing for their very small company. It may only have two or three employees, but they, nevertheless, have a very, very expensive cost.
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Now, when they are forced to pay this charge to meet this mandate, then they may not have the funds necessary to buy, let's say, a more advanced piece of avionic equipment which they know may provide much greater safety advantage to their individual operations. It is important, I think, for the committee to understand that the long-term success of an aviation business is inherently dependent upon successfully meeting the safety needs of that business.
These small businessmen typically fly their own planes and charter and flight training. Nobody knows the advantages of safety more than they do. Yet we must first develop a regulatory process that allows increased flexibility so that these smaller businesses can make the decisions that they know are more proper to meet the regulatory safety needs within their environment.
To give you a few more examples which are discussed in greater detail in my written testimony, I might refer to the questions of airport security that very seriously impact many of the businesses that we represent. I recently spoke with an FBO operator in Missouri who was forced to spend $88,000 to install an underground security detection wire around the perimeter of his FBO.
Suffice it to say that security wire is never going to make any contribution to the security safety of the commercial air carrier passengers that go in and out of that airport, but it is going to provide a significant deleterious effect on the financial well-being of that business, and to force them to perhaps curtail much more important safety investments for the future. Of course, you have already heard about some of the environmental burdens that are placed on airports.
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Many times those same burdens are placed upon individual businesses at the airports, and I can give my good friends at AAAE dozens of examples of small businesses that cannot logically use the real estate that they have because of some environmental or other needless regulation that has been imposed upon them. So I want to strongly support the efforts of this committee and the others that will be testifying here today to work toward reducing the burden of unfunded mandates on businesses, especially small businesses, a reality today. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Coyne. Thank you for the very fine testimony. We are going to break now and go very quickly for a vote, and then we will come back in just a very few minutes and begin the questioning. Thank you very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right, we will go ahead and proceed now with the questioning, and I know other Members are going to come in as they have an opportunity to do so, but first of all, Mr. Campbell, let me ask you this. We have talked a lot about regulations here today and the regulatory burden and so forth.
Some of these regulations are from FAA, some of them are from our environmental and from the EPA, and some in regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act and various other agencies. Is it a routine thing or are you frequently contacted by regulators in advance of regulations being put into effect to ask you what effect those regulations would have on an airport such as yours and in your conversations and meetings with other people in similar positions to you, is this something that is being done or should be done to see what effect a regulation would have on those who, like you, are on the firing line on a day-to-day basis? Do you understand what I am getting at?
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Mr. CAMPBELL. Yes, sir, I believe I do. Let me break it down this way. In terms of Federal Aviation Administration regulations, the consultation process is very good between airports and FAA regulators in terms of the process that is used to solicit our input on those regulations. We don't always get everything we want, obviously, and we understand that, but in terms of the process I think it works very well.
In the past there have been examples, particularly in the area of environmental regulations, where the impacts on an airport, frankly, were not known. We may not have been aware of a regulation that might have an impact on airports in the past. One of the things that we have done as airport associations, both AAAE and ACI have, frankly, begun to emphasize more strongly tracking and monitoring environmental regulations as an association and as airports in response to this particular concern, so in those two areas I think there are two different examples, and in terms of the ADA regulation, we did monitor that pretty closely.
Frankly, the impact on most airports has been relatively minor. Some more impact on older airport facilities as you might expect, than newer ones, but I think most airports have been able to respond fairly effectively to the ADA regulations. I would say from the airport point of view the environmental regulations are the trickiest for us to keep up with. A lot of it is very technical, and we are just now developing the expertise to begin to monitor those successfully.
Mr. DUNCAN. Let me ask you this: You are here today representing the Airports Council International and the American Association of Airport Executives, and in your statement you say there that in this study that was made from 1990 to 1992 that environmental regulations, just the environmental regulations cost the average responding airport $4,217,000 each, and you mentioned also that the average cost of in-house and outside legal counsel to address environmental questions in this same period was $894,000 just for legal counsel.
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Now, have those costs gone up or are they going up and what would be the cost, for instance, for your airport there in Nashville, if you have any specific figures?
Mr. CAMPBELL. The cost for Nashville during that same period of time was approximately $4 million. And a portion of that cost was recoverable through AIP funds or passenger facility tax funds, so we are recovering a portion of those capital costs.
However, the ongoing operating costs that you mentioned in your question are not AIP-eligible and must come out ofwe just work those into our annual operating budget and basically in our case the airlines pay that and ultimately the users of the air transportation system in and out of Nashville, and so that is how the costs get passed on down, so I hope I addressed your question.
Those are very significant costs, and they have gone up over the years and they are going up every year as the regulatory mechanisms come into play, particularly in the area of wetlands and storm water as airports begin to grapple with those particular issues at their airports.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. I have several other questions, but we are going to try to limit the first round to five minutes each, and so at this time I will go to the very highly respected former Chairman of the committee, my good friend, Mr. Mineta.
Mr. MINETA. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I have got to say as I sit here and watch you in action, your father was a great member, and one thing he never got to be was to be addressed as Mr. Chairman, and now you are. I know with the work you have already done here on this committee that you will continued to do outstanding work.
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Regulations, of course, are something that are the bane to a lot of people, but it seems to me safety is one area that you don't leave to the marketplace. You don't want to shortchange safety in any way.
I would like to address this question to Mr. Coyne and to Mr. Landry and first I would like to say to Mr. Coyne, in your testimony you state, and I quote, ''The FAA regulatory process should not be a test for each rule to be released more quickly than the previous one.''
My opinion of the FAA regulatory process is that the word, ''quickly,'' could never be used in association with that process. Now, legislation has sometimes mandated rulemakings that it takes the agency years to implement. While I will concede your point that Congress occasionally imposes deadlines that may not be entirely feasible, it remains a mystery to me why an agency can take two, three or more years to accomplish a legislative directive.
Do you have examples of regulations that were, in your opinion, issued too quickly or without sufficient review before being implemented? I will let you think about this while I address my next question to Mr. Landry.
Mr. Landry, in your testimony you state, and I quote, ''every proposed regulatory action affecting air carriers must be scrupulously justified.'' Now, do you mean that we should not impose new safety regulations unless we are convinced ''beyond a reasonable doubt'' that the rule is needed?
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Do you think your customers would want FAA to adopt a rule which the agency, in its best judgment, thinks would prevent accidents even though the agency is not absolutely certain that this would be the case, so, Mr. Landry, while you mull that over, why don't I go back to Mr. Coyne.
Mr. COYNE. Well, thank you, Mr. Former Chairman. Let me respond to your question by saying
Mr. MINETA. Let's call it wanna-be.
Mr. COYNE. I am included in that category, too. Let me just say that the history of the FAA regulatory process, and for that matter all Federal regulatory processes has been one which goes normally at a very slow pace, and then when there is an accident or some catastrophe there is a rush to come out with reams and reams of new regulations to respond supposedly quickly, but often rationally to the crisis that may have occurred, and you can go back to the 1930s when a member of the Senate was killed in an airplane crash, I believe, on the way to Oklahoma, and it led to very, verythe first big round of FAA safety or before the FAA Federal safety regulations.
I am sure your experience in following regulatory public pressure and the desire of the government to respond to those public perceptions leads you to believe that oftentimes it is better to not respond to the rush of the public to say do something right now. For example, there is examinations of the recent crash in Pittsburgh. I don't think anybody would propose that on the basis of the level of knowledge that we have right now about that accident that government should rush out with a whole collection of new regulatory, quote, ''fixes.''
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Too often those regulatory fixes are just public relations responses, but to give you a specific example that is a little bit different, not too long ago there was proposals for revising the TCAS regulations, the implementation of the cockpit traffic avoidance instruments, and it was understood within the industry that these proposals would be open for consideration and deliberation until 1997, and then all of a sudden these proposals werethe time line was moved forward very quickly.
It seemed to be in response to public pressures for quick fixes rather than giving the industry and others the opportunity to deliberate more fully on this question.
Mr. MINETA. Mr. Chairman, could I impose on your indulgence to ask Mr. Landry to respond?
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes.
Mr. MINETA. Thank you.
Mr. LANDRY. I think, Mr. Mineta, the entire spirit of our testimony is that proposed regulations should be subjected to a strict cost benefit analysis. We put in our prepared statement one particular regulation that I think if it had been given a strict cost-benefit analysis would never have come to pass, and that is the airport access rule.
That particular rule was proposed as a reaction to the action of a disgruntled former employee who boarded a PSA aircraft, as you know, and caused a tragedy. The regulation that was produced the FAA estimated would cost $169 million, and has by our figures cost in excess of $500 million, and I believe AAAE, in its testimony, says $800 million, and the rule itself would never have prevented the boarding of that aircraft by that particular disgruntled employee.
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I am just suggesting that if you impose that kind of strict cost-benefit analysis, you will be able toyou will discard a proposed regulation like that or certainly ameliorate it, if you will, and make it much more realistic, and at the same time turn to the priority safety enhancement regulations that we share as a common goal.
Mr. MINETA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Mineta. I now call on Vice Chairman Weller.
Mr. WELLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and appreciate the opportunity to ask a few questions. I understood we are observing the five-minute rule so I will keep mine brief and succinct and hopefully have an opportunity to have it addressed.
My first question is for Mr. Campbell. Of course, our chief overall concern is to protect the safety of those who are using our aviation infrastructure and system here in our country, but at the same time we have other regulatory and priorities that our Nation has had over the years and some have been environmental concerns, and I think many of us probably recall a circumstance at LaGuardia Airport where because of environmental concerns, particularly because ofI have not seen this, but a wetland was located near the airport that they were restricted and prevented from having the opportunity to extend a runway, and then, of course, an accident occurred in which a number of passengers lost their lives.
I was wondering are there other examples from your experience where we have had conflicting goals that have actually jeopardized the safety of airline passengers similar to LaGuardia?
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Mr. CAMPBELL. It is my understanding that there have been other examples, and the example that you cited on the LaGuardia situation is, in fact, the case. The environmental regulations did delay that project, and the safety overrun was considerably delayed in its construction.
I will give you an example from Nashville Airport. This, fortunately, does not involve safety or security, but we are in the process of constructing a water quality retention basin in response to water quality problems that we are having because of the deicing fluid that the airlines use on the ramp, and it caused us to disturb a small roughly 2-acre wetland in the site where we wanted to construct this water quality treatment facility, and the EPA regulations are such that we tried to relocate the wetland, and we found another area on the airport that would meet the requirements, and were proceeding down that path, and lo and behold, the FAA took a look at it and indicated to us that that would not be something that they would approve because it might endanger aircraft because of the creation of a wetland in an area where birds or other wildlife might be attracted, and so we have spent roughly 2 years trying to go back and forth between the State environmental folks and the Federal Aviation Administration to resolve this issue.
We finally did get it resolved, but that is the kind of disjointed response that many airports are facing unfortunately in response to environmental regulations. It is not that we don't want to respond, it is just that all too often we are getting caught up in this conflict between two agencies.
Mr. WELLER. Of course, the Chairman, in his opening remarks, referred to, I believe, an airport perhaps in his district or in the area where they wanted to trim back some trees but because of environmental regulations and concerns from State agencies they were prevented from doing that. Of course, common sense hopefully prevails, but at the same time it sounds like costs have been driven up.
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I have a quick question for Mr. Landry. You had mentioned in your testimony that the need for an independent third party to review agency cost-benefit analysis when it comes to regulation, and I was wondering if you can give an example of an independent third party that you believe from your point of view the FAA could rely on as a source for an independent third party?
Mr. LANDRY. Well, obviously there could be a great many very reputable consulting organizations in the private sector. There also could be perhaps calling on various, the Congressional Budget Office is contemplated in some of the pending bills before Congress today as being equipped to review the cost of proposed both legislation and regulations on the private sector. I imagine there could be a number of other elements, independent elements both within the government and outside the government that could perform that kind of task.
Mr. WELLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. That concludes my questioning.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Weller. I would like at this time to call on Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Landry, you have quoted in your testimony an Airline Commission report that criticized FAA rulemaking over the decade that I cited in my opening statement, and found much wrong with the regulations issued, but the ones that I cited, fire blocking seat cushions, wind shear detection equipment, TCAS, deicing procedures, do you have any objection to those? Aren't those things that airlines, aren't those initiatives the airlines themselves should initiate for their own good and the benefit of their passengers?
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Mr. LANDRY. I think those are good examples of what would happen in a prioritization project, an approach, prioritizing proposed regulations that I think is incumbent upon both the government and the industry, and times when both of us haveare strapped for resources.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I don't know what that means. I don't know what you are saying. What are you saying?
Mr. LANDRY. The FAA itself, for example, in the current budgetary climate is likely to have a constrained budget, and I think that calls for
Mr. OBERSTAR. Are you saying that those regulations should not have been imposed?
Mr. LANDRY. No, I am saying they are good examples of the kind of regulations that would have been up there high on the priority list. There were others that would fall far below those.
Mr. OBERSTAR. And they were important ones, they were ones that airlines should have done on their own, and in many cases we find the industry says impose the regulations so that everybody is under the same rule, so that we are all operating on the same basis. Don't let someone get out ahead of the other or have a hodgepodge of operational differences, right?
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LANDRY. Oh, we don't think safety ought to be competitive if that is what you mean, Mr. Oberstar. I certainly agree with that. You and I both had the privilege a couple weeks ago of attending the safety summit. I think there couldn't be a better demonstration of the dedication of the industry I represent, the hundreds of people that were gathered there working in cooperation with the FAA producing 500 recommendations.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I hate to interrupt you, but I said that at the outset of my remarks, that this industry itself has participated. Where I am trying to get is what your complaints are, and when you talk about $5 billion, that is over a period of 10 or 20 years. That is 1 percent of the industry's annual operating costs of about $80 billion. That is not too much for safety and security regulation.
Mr. LANDRY. I have to presume that the findings of the commission were based on facts presented to the commission in the course of those 90 days of hearings.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Largely presented by the airlines themselves.
Mr. LANDRY. No, that was a very comprehensive cost spectrum across all the interested parties.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Is that too big a burden? Is 1 percent too big a burden?
Mr. LANDRY. I am saying that probablyI am sure that we could go back and identify not just the priority items that you rightly indicate we both share a view that those should have beendeicing rules and so forth, that those should have been brought into play, but we could find a number of them that really were unnecessary. I cited one as the airport access rule just a few minutes ago.
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Mr. OBERSTAR. I am not so sure. The cost may have been and the reach may have been long, but to conclude that the regulation would not have prevented the tragedy that occurred prior to the rulemaking, I think, is unfounded, and we are not going to debate it here because we don't havethat red light is going to go on in a minute here.
Mr. LANDRY. I base that statement on the conclusions of our security experts.
Mr. OBERSTAR. You talked about the length and also a question of timeliness of FAA rulemaking. I think it takes too long. I think it is an extraordinarily long process, and I think the airlines themselves are part of making it long by wanting more analysis and more cost-benefit analysis and dragging things out. Rulemakings that should have been done in short order have taken months, even years. Then when they are finally concluded after 15 sign-offs within the Department and within the FAA, there's the Office of Management and Budget, and then there is another long period of phase-in so that the burden of cost to compliance isn't too great for the airlines. I don't think you can criticize the FAA for acting too quickly or without consideration of all the facts and without consideration of all the opinions on issues.
Mr. LANDRY. I didn't say that they acted too quickly. I said that they did not act with adequate cost-benefit analysis in some cases, and I think if you were to adopt the concept of prioritizing and also adopt the concept of cooperation between the experts in the private sector and the experts in the FAA, you would have a shorter list of undertakings and you would have better rules and a better enhancement of safety.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. OBERSTAR. We will come back and we will discuss that, but the part 121, part 135 single standard of safety has been out there for almost a year since Administrator Hinson, who will be up here soon, testified at our hearing on commuter safety that they would do it in a matter of weeks. That is still not final and that is one the industry hasn't objected to.
Mr. LANDRY. That is one we support.
Mr. OBERSTAR. That is right, taking too long. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Oberstar. At this time I would like to call on Mr. LaHood.
Mr. LAHOOD. Gentlemen, something that I am very concerned about and I would like to know if any of your associations have taken a position on this, I am very concerned about this idea of privatizing, if that is the right word, of air traffic controllers.
I am against this, I think it is the wrong-headed approach for all of us that fly on a frequent basis. I have the highest regard for the air traffic controllers in this country. I think they are well-trained. I think they do a marvelous job. I think they are probably understaffed, but I wonder if any of your associations have taken a position on this idea of privatizing this and moving it away from the national government in some form or fashion.
Mr. LANDRY. Mr. LaHood, our position is still evolving on that, but I can say emphatically right now that I think it is not at all in the national interest and the public interest, in the airline's interest and the congressional interest to continue the status quo. Something different has to be done, whether the ultimate entity would be in the form of a government corporation or privatized or something, we have not yet established a position.
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Mr. LAHOOD. But you are saying that you think something different needs to be done?
Mr. LANDRY. Something different needs to be done to make the air traffic control system function more like a business would in the private sector, that is true.
Mr. COYNE. Our positionof course, we don't know the latest proposals that are coming forth from the administration or from Congress so we really can't comment on those, but NATA looked at the proposals that came out of the administration last year and came out against them because we felt that the corporatization in the mode of the post office of the FAA's ATC would not necessarily bring any advantages to the users of the service and posed many risks that things, in fact, might get worse.
When you look at the track record of the post office since it was quote, ''privatized,'' by most measures, and I think even the old Postmaster General yesterday admitted that by most measures it had gotten worse since it left, so we had taken the position last year opposing that.
My guess is that whatever comes out this year will have to be looked at very critically with the idea of what the impact will be on safety, and most especially what will be the financial burdens placed upon the many different users of the air traffic system, how those costs would be shared, but most of our users feel that the most important changes that people talk about could be resolved within an independent FAA with procurement changes, personnel changes, and, frankly, some of those procurement and personnel changes should be done government-wide, but clearly the FAA is a very good place to start with changes in procurement procedures and personnel procedures right away so that we can start, quote, ''making it more like a business.''
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Mr. CAMPBELL. In terms of the airports' position, our two associations have basically indicated that it is a concept that should be further explored and examined and it may have some benefits. We have a concern over the continued safety of the air traffic control system. However, we do think that there may be some ways to make the procurement, in particular, more efficient.
Until there is some specific legislation, we really just don't have a position on it other than to indicate that it is a concept worth exploring. One of our main concerns would be what impact it might have on airport funding, depending on how an ATC corporation or whatever it turned out to be would be funded, we would have some concerns that it might possibly take away some airport grant funding, so that is a concern that we have with the concept.
Mr. LAHOOD. Let me just add, Mr. Coyne, the example you use is one that I have also used. I think this idea of privatizing the post office has been a joke, and I am from the State of Illinois, and when you see what has happened in the City of Chicago with somebody dumping mail, we have a very good system now, and I think it is safe, and when we talk about safety here today, I think we need to look very hard and with all due respect to Mr. Hinson, I know is here, and I do have a very high regard for you, sir, and we have heard from you and we have been down to hear Secretary Peña's opinion on this, but I think it is the wrong approach. It is a wrong-headed approach.
If we need to make changes, we should, but, you know, the idea of privatizing I think is really, really a big mistake and will impact, I think, on the safety of the air travelers. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. OBERSTAR. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. LAHOOD. Of course.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Welcome to the committee, you are a welcome, thoughtful voice, show great promise for the future of aviation.
Mr. LAHOOD. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right, thank you, Mr. LaHood. Gentlemen, I am going to be brief because I do want to get on to Mr. Hinson, but Mr. Coyne, let me ask you this. You represent an association that is mainly made up of small businessmen and women, fixed base operators and others.
If the people in your association were given the power to eliminate or alter one rule or regulation, what do you think that would be and how much money are we talking about? What specifically would we be talking about?
Mr. COYNE. Boy, that is an exciting offer. Could I get that in writing? No, I think, frankly
Mr. DUNCAN. There may not be just one.
Mr. COYNE. Let me try to think about it a minute. Different parts of our membership have different concerns. I think that the environmental concerns that you heard earlier are the primary concern of many of our FBOs who have real estate at airports without the benefit of substantial financial resources to meet all of the environmental mandates that are imposed. However, our air charter operators and our flight schools have a very different perspective.
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Typically, they don't own real estate. They are more concerned on the regulatory burdens that are placed on them in terms of how they may use their aircraft. I think the one rule thator one example I might give you that bothers an awful lot of our members are the burdens imposed on smaller air charter operators and unscheduled operators of charters who now feel that the rules imposed on them are essentially the same rules in many cases imposed on the largest airlines, and, in fact, they operate very, very different. They operate very little strips in Alaska to another part of the State. They operate from Tennessee across from one small town to the other, and for them to be treated as though they were a huge air carrier, to have these part 135 rules for smaller aircraft essentially be treated as they were much bigger operators is an absolutely unreasonable burden, and it would probably be the one that most of our members would list as number one.
Could I give you a long list beyond that. One other one I might mention, though, is in terms of aircraft certification. Many of our members are really troubled because the American aircraft manufacturers aren't making new planes.
As you know, this is largely a problem of liability, but also a problem of certification costs for the new aircraft, and so many users of small planes are faced with really no new planes to get. They have to operate planes that are 25, 30, and 35 years old. They would much prefer to see a vibrant manufacturing economy out there producing new small planes, and the manufacturers say that one of the reasons they can't produce those new small planes is that the certification hurdles are so high coupled with the liability problems.
Now, we have made some progress in the liability front thanks to the efforts of this committee, but we think that the same issues of new aircraft certification should be looked at very carefully so that we don't have to continue to fly less safe 30-year-old airplanes, but we can go out and buy new state-of-the-art aircraft that the industry is prepared to manufacture.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you. Thank you very much. Mr. Landry, a year ago the FAA undertook a regulatory review in which it asked the public to identify regulations that should be eliminated or reduced, and the FAA received, I understand, 426 recommendations. To the best of your knowledge, have any of those been implemented or has there been much progress on those recommendations?
Mr. LANDRY. Mr. Chairman, I was advised when I came up here to this table that the FAA's testimony indicates that on Friday they released a 400-page report dealing with those 426 recommendations. Frankly, we haven't seen it, so I guess we will all be perusing that report in the days ahead.
Mr. DUNCAN. Regardless of what the report says, have you seen much change in that time?
Mr. LANDRY. No, frankly, as I indicated in both my prepared statement and my presentation here this afternoon, we have been very disappointed in the course of the last several years with four efforts to sort of improve the regulatory program and reduce the regulatory burden and the promises haven't quite beenhave really not been fulfilled. We have been quite disappointed.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Campbell, you say in your prepared statement often Federal regulators delegate their authority to the States to insure compliance with Federal standards creating a myriad of regulatory schemes and compliance levels, effectively removing Federal compliance costs and creating State mandates. Then you go on to say additionally hidden administrative training, legal and maintenance and operations costs are added to the burden as airports develop systems to insure compliance with each regulation as it is imposed.
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In light of that, sir, are you saying that some of these costs are hidden or indirect costs, and if so, which is causing you the most problem or the most expense, the Federal mandates or regulations or the State regulations or the hidden private indirect costs?
Mr. CAMPBELL. All of the above. Fortunately, the Federal AIP program has provided a considerable amount of funding to allow airports to respond to Federal mandates, particularly as it is related to FAA mandates, and just recently this committee, along with Congress, have approved funding for environmental mandates and some of the other mandates that have been talked about earlier today.
What is often missed, though, as the statement indicates, particularly on environmental regulations, these are oftentimes delegated to State environmental agencies, and the example I gave earlier in Nashville, we were actually dealing with a State environmental agency on this wetland that we had to relocate, and they had one opinion about how it should be done and the Federal FAA had another opinion about how it should be done, and we were like a Ping-Pong ball bouncing back and forth between these two agencies for approximately 2 years as we tried to work our way through this particular problem.
As I indicated, we finally did and I think the resolution is a good one, but it was not easy, and, frankly, it probably cost us several hundred thousand dollars in consulting and lawyers' fees as we tried to work through this problem which should not have happened. I mean, it was not that difficult an issue, that we shouldn't have been able to work for a whole lot less money and much shorter time, so that is an example of that, and in terms of regulations from this point forward, one of the things that we are seeing, particularly on security access regulations and regulations of that sort is that the ongoing operating and maintenance costs is considerable.
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You have to update the computer systems; they do break. You have to replace chips or whatever it may be. There is a fair amount of usage of these doors and the computer systems technology is evolving, and so there are ongoing operating costs associated with many of these regulations that oftentimes are not fully anticipated by the regulators themselves.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. I can tell you that our office has to deal frequently with conflicts between State and Federal agencies, but sometimes we have to even deal with conflicts between Federal agencies, one wanting one thing and one wanting something else. Mr. Mineta.
Mr. MINETA. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me just say, Mr. Campbell, having come from local government, I am concerned about this issue of unfunded mandates. It seems to me the work of this committee probably deals more with unmandated funding more than it has to do with unfunded mandates.
Now, to the extent that we have, that we do a lot of work on this committee that has to do with unmandated funding, it seems to me that if you look at the balance sheet of what has been done for local government by those of us who vote, yes, to increased taxes in order to do this kind of funding to the State and local governments, that you could be ending up on the short end of that stick. I think that is already starting to happen now.
Unfortunately, I think the highway trust fund and the aviation trust fund, which were created for capital improvement are now being used for operations and maintenance and the running of the department, and so when we look at investments over a period of time from 1967 to 1992, 1967, 6.3 percent of our Federal outlay was transportation investment programs. 1992, that is now down to 3 percent.
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To me, that is going to go down even further, so when you use this example of the wetlands and the birds, if you ask any pilot, I bet they would have said I don't care how long it takes you to solve that, get those birds out of my way. I don't want birds around my bird. You said, well, it is something that should not have taken place, and yet how would you have avoided it, even in that example you give; to shorten the time or lower the cost in dollars.
How do we realistically try to shorten the period and lower the dollars because for a pilot and when they see birds around, they don't want to see their jets ingesting those birds, so I can understand an awareness on their part.
Mr. CAMPBELL. And we did, too. We felt all along that the location was okay, the FAA originally approved it, and we were proceeding with the development. It was actually off to the side of the runway in a location we didn't think would be a hazard.
Mr. MINETA. Was it outside the clear zone?
Mr. CAMPBELL. Yes, sir, it was. But then the FAA, as it looked more closely at the plans, I guess, reversed itself, and that threw us back into the State agency mode, and there, frankly, our response was, look, why don't we give you what we were planning to put into that wetland which was roughly $250, 300,000, and you take that, we will give it to an approved environmental agency.
You created a wetland wherever you want to create one, and let us solve our problem that way, and, frankly, the State agency at that point had difficulty with that solution because of the fact that it might create a precedent for allowing companies or governments to, quote, unquote, ''buy their way out of an environmental problem.''
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That was not our intention. We felt it was the best solution, and, frankly, the FAA reversed itself. That took some time, and then convincing the State agency that this was the best solution. For example, the State agency required us to actually locate some alternative sites in the Nashville area, and we did that, and that is where we spent the money on the consultants. They came back with reports that, yes, you can do it in order to create the substitute wetlands. You might spend between a million and three million dollars just on the land acquisition.
Now, that makes no sense to replace a 2-acre wetland, and so that was the kind ofthose were the kinds of issues that we were required to work our way through in this process. I don't know what the solution is, Mr. Mineta, but I know that there is a problem particularly on environmental regulations between the FAA and the EPA.
Mr. MINETA. Is there also a difference between the regional office and the maybe headquarters as well?
Mr. CAMPBELL. That is entirely possible. I think a lot of the problems, frankly, are at the State EPA level, if I could, at least in Tennessee, and we have a hard time gettingthat is not an agency we normally deal with if we can avoid it.
Mr. MINETA. Thank you, Mr. Campbell. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Mineta. I understand that Mr. Weller and Mr. LaHood have no additional questions, and so we will go to Mr. Oberstar for one more round. Then we will get on to Mr. Hinson so he won't have to continue waiting. Mr. Oberstar.
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Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to point out, Mr. Campbell, that under the AIP program, AIP funds are eligible for mitigation where you have regulatory compliance with EPA. I wouldn't call that an unfunded mandate. You have funds eligible for that. You have funds eligible under the part 150 program for noise abatement compliance.
I think the aviation program is very responsive, and last year we even modified the PFC program to allow PFCs to be used for environmental mitigation on the air side of the airport in conjunction with a project. I think we have been very, very responsive. I don't think the aviation community has a lot to complain about in that. There may be some instances of unfortunate outcomes, as you talked about the tree in the wetland. That is not a matter of regulation. That is a matter of people sitting down and using common sense and working out an agreement, and I wouldn't throw the whole regulatory process out or the AIP funding because you have an unfunded mandate.
That is just because people don't sit down and use common sense, come together and agree upon a solution. That is the thing that frustrates me the most, and I have seen that happen all too often.
Mr. Coyne, so good to have you here. You are doing a fine job representing the FBOs and the charters and others who are in your association. They chose wisely to have you there, and I don't want to nit-pick, but I do want to pick up a few nits out of your testimony on TCAS on commuters.
Do you recall how long a period of time your commuters asked for an extension from FAA?
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Mr. COYNE. I don't recall off the top of my head.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I will tell you, it was 2 years.
Mr. COYNE. It was 1977, I believe, yes.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Two years and they got a 9-month extension. Do you know how the TCAS requirement came into being?
Mr. COYNE. Well, I am familiar with the process, yes.
Mr. OBERSTAR. In this committee, in testimony by former Member, Ron Packard, over whose community, Cerritos, California, the midair crash occurred. It was one of the few instances where Congress has instituted regulation by act of Congress. We have very carefully avoided doing that. That is the regulatory process that should follow.
Mr. COYNE. Understand
Mr. OBERSTAR. And extending TCAS to commuters, you know, is a logical extension of the initial objective of that legislation, and we came back and one of the problems of doing such things by law is that we had to come back and make an adjustment also by law to that initial time frame in which the law required TCAS to be installed. So I am just wondering what it is thatwhen you say flexibility, what are you talking about?
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. COYNE. The flexibility that I am seeking relates to the unscheduled carriers, the part 135 operators who you would probably not call commuters, the operators who operate smaller aircraft, typically less than 19 seats that have in most cases an on-demand characteristic of their operating.
We are concerned over and over and over again that each time a regulation is brought to bring something of the carriers down to the 135 level, they lump everybody in 135 into the same boat, and as you know, in northern Minnesota there are literally scores of operators up there operating in very small unscheduled air charter operations who don't have the same financial capabilities that a Southwest airline or some bigger, large commuter airline would have, and we were asking for time so that they could allow their fulfillment of the TCAS equipment requirement, which we support eventually to be within their financial
Mr. OBERSTAR. I am for time and I am for reasonable phase-in schedules and we have looked at those time and again in hearings. I'll give you an example of time that went awry. The original Ground Proximity Warning System requirement for commuters was extended to 4 years with a final date of April 1994. On December 1, 1993, an airplane crashed in Hibbing, Minnesota, near my hometown, on a flight path right over my home, because it didn't have a GPWS. That was the final decision of the NTSB. In that case it was too much time and not enough for the passengers.
Mr. COYNE. In that case we agree with you. On the TCAS one I think you will see that in our particular case, we, if you study it in more detail, I think you will see the merits of our position.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. Gentlemen, thank you very much for participating in this hearing today. Your testimony has been very helpful and informative, and we look forward to working with you in the months ahead as we try to do something about some of the problems that you have mentioned. Thank you very much.
Mr. COYNE. Thank you.
Mr. LANDRY. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. We will now call on the Administrator of the FAA, Mr. David Hinson, and I believe he is to be accompanied by Mr. Anthony Broderick.
Let me say, first of all, I want to welcome you, Mr. Hinson. Did you not hear my opening statement at the start of this hearing, but I mentioned that while this is the first hearing of the subcommittee that we had two very fine meetings. One was our breakfast with Secretary Peña at the Department of Transportation, and you participated in that meeting, but the day before that was our agency briefing that you and your fine staff gave this subcommittee, and I thought that was very thorough and just a really excellent presentation, and so I want to thank you once again for being involved, not only involved but very actively involved in both of those meetings, and we look forward to hearing your testimony today. Thank you very much for coming.
TESTIMONY OF DAVID R. HINSON, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION ACCOMPANIED BY ANTHONY BRODERICK, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR REGULATION AND CERTIFICATION
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Mr. HINSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and distinguished members of the committee. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I will read a brief statement.
With me today is Anthony Broderick, the FAA's Associate Administrator for Regulation and Certification. We welcome the opportunity to appear before you as you examine the potential burdens on the aviation community that may result from the regulation of its activities. FAA's responsibilities for aviation safety are extremely encompassing, as the members of this committee know so well.
The aviation safety regulatory framework that we have established has helped the United States achieve world preeminence not only in safety, but in virtually all aspects of aviation technology and facilitates the introduction of American concepts and technology into other transportation systems worldwide.
At the core of this record of success has been a commitment from all segments of aviation to a level of performance and safety that exists neither in any other form of transportation nor anywhere else in the world. There is a fundamental recognition that failure to adhere to extremely high standards of safety can yield catastrophic results, and that in light of the public demand for such high safety requirements and continuing focus on aviation safety, a lapse in that commitment can produce a potentially devastating loss of public confidence in our system.
Producing the high level of safety we have achieved does not come without a cost. The person who will typically pay the cost is the air traveler. I can assure you that a critical element of our rulemaking process is to examine that potential cost and balance it against the benefits to be achieved.
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Economic analysis is a key requirement that we follow in considering a rule and has been for some time. I might add, Mr. Chairman, that is required of us by law and by direction. On the whole, I believe that the FAA does a credible job in identifying and balancing the costs of rulemaking proposals against their anticipated benefits, but we can and should always continue our efforts to improve.
We have sought to involve affected parties in helping us identify and prioritize rulemaking that will provide cost-beneficial safety improvements. Both the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee or ARAC and the Aviation Security Advisory Committee have assisted in that effort.
Also on January 10, 1994, we issued a public request seeking the identification of rules that may be unnecessarily burdensome. In response to that request we received comments from nearly 200 parties in all segments of aviation, identifying over 400 candidates for review.
Last Friday, we released a 400-page summary of the action we would take in response to each of these recommendations or suggestions. In combination with the output we got from our recent safety conference, we believe we have a good picture of the best regulatory course to steer in the coming months.
Also, last June we held a benefit cost conference, attended by 70 representatives of the airlines and other aviation organizations. We have summarized the industry recommendations and criticisms and are currently developing a work plan to address their concerns.
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The FAA is also participating in a government-wide effort to develop guidelines for better regulatory economic analysis. It is often a challenging task to balance timeliness and adequacy of a possible safety action against the burdens it may impose. However, we remain continuously mindful of the need to do so.
For example, although we have sometimes been criticized for our response to NTSB safety recommendations, there is a fundamental difference between recommending an action and bearing the responsibility for taking that action, and there is a very good reason for that distinction.
The NTSB is not responsible, nor in our view should they be, for considering the potential burdens or costs of its recommendations. It provides us with its unvarnished safety recommendations. Concurrent with our safety evaluation of those recommendations, the FAA must also consider the benefits of adopting such recommendations along with the burdens they may impose.
For that reason, we typically examine whether there may exist nonregulatory or alternative regulatory means of achieving the safety objectives that are recommended or those which can optimize safety benefits to air travelers while lessening the burdens that would otherwise be imposed. The same kind of scrutiny applies in cases where we adopt improved or new airline safety standards that will apply prospectively.
The issue also arises whether we should require a retrofit of existing aircraft to those same standards. After all, airplanes do age. In some cases we have found a middle ground that provides improved safety, but in a carefully tailored way. For example, when we adopted improved standards for aircraft cabin materials to protect passengers from fire, those flammability standards applied prospectively to new aircraft. For existing aircraft, we asked that the improved materials be used when an aircraft underwent the next refurbishment of its interior materials. That type of measured approach provided for a phased safety upgrade of the entire fleet over time while exacting a substantially lower burden economically to the industry.
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In closing, Mr. Chairman, I would like to assure you and the members of the committee that we will commit to continue to press for justified safety improvements in a responsible way, that recognizes an appropriate balance. We look forward very much to working with you on other aviation matters during this Congress, and we are pleased to answer your questions, sir.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Hinson. We will have to break in just a moment for a vote. Let me ask you, though, we heard testimony a few minutes ago in which there was a study that showed that the average airport spent almost a million and a half dollars a year on environmental regulations during the 3-year period from 1990 to 1992 and that the costs are probably significantly higher than that now.
I am wondering, sir, does the Environmental Protection Agency, which is responsible for many of these regulations, does it consult with the FAA on a regular basis before it takes actions that affect aviation?
Mr. HINSON. Mr. Chairman, one of the very first things that I did after I was confirmed 16 or 17 months ago was to meet with the Administrator, Carol Browner of EPA. We had a long discussion about some of the relations that exist both formally and informally between the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation, and EPA, and their mandated rules and regulations.
The FAA only deals with two areas environmentally where we by law must act. One is noise and the implications of noise and noise abatement, and the other is an emissions control relative to engines and the chemistry of the burning of the fuels that are involved in the engines for emissions with respect to clean air.
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Administrator Browner and I now have a close working relationship. The most recent example would be in the FIP that will be implemented in Los Angeles, and I think that we will continue this close relationship. It remains to be seen, however, to what degree the laws that are imposed on EPA by the Congress will have to be followed and no doubt there will occasionally be circumstances where airports are impacted with issues that are beyond the control of the FAA.
Mr. DUNCAN. Let me ask you another question very quickly. We have heard other witnesses testify today that the airport access security rules imposed by the FAA, at an original FAA estimated cost of $169 million or $170 million, now cost, according to one group have cost $500 million, and according to another group have cost $800 million. Did the FAA badly misjudge those costs, and if so, why or do you dispute their cost estimates?
Mr. HINSON. Mr. Chairman, I was on the other side as a Director of ATA during that time, and so I understand their position completely. Without being critical of my partners in the FAA today, I do believe that the FAA did not calculate the real cost accurately. There may beand looking back there are obviously things that the FAA could have done and DOT could have done differently in the way those rules were imposed. However, since I can't fix that, we are addressing it from another way.
Part 107, which deals with airport security, is being rewritten, and one of the major efforts that we have under way is to see to what extent we can reduce the access perimeter thereby reducing the burdens and security costs that are imposed on the airports and the air carriers.
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Mr. DUNCAN. All right, I guess we should break at this time. We will go very quickly to vote, then we will have some additional questions. Thank you very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right, we are going to get started back here because I understand we are going to have some more votes shortly and I want to move very quickly to Mr. Oberstar, but let me just say this, Mr. Hinson, rather than asking more questions, and I covered a little bit of this in my opening statement, but I think it is to the great benefit of all the citizens of this Nation if we have a healthy, profitable aviation industry, and I know that you share that feeling, and I hope that you will do everything you can to encourage a mindset in your agency to work as closely with these various groups in the aviation community as you reasonably can to make sure that these costs are held down so that air travel does not go out of sight in price and so that we can open up air travel to an even wider segment of the American population.
Also, I know that you are pleased that our airlines seem to be becoming profitable, hopefully, at this time after many years of very large losses, and so I think we all want to work together to see that that continues, and if you have any comments about what I have just said, that is fine, and if not, then we will go on to Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. HINSON. If I may, Mr. Chairman, maybe I would make just one observation. In my experience I have been on the other side as the owner of a substantial general aviation facility for 15 years, and therefore the recipient of FAA oversight and regulatory endeavors. I have had the privilege of working for a major air frame manufacturer and we also were the recipient of major FAA regulatory oversight, and as you know, as CEO of an air carrier, I was involved in that capacity, too, so I have sat in all the chairs on the other side, and I have been critical of the FAA in many ways as well.
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However, that was before I had the experience of sitting in this seat, and it is unfortunate in a way that many of my associates in the industry cannot have this privilege because they might have a slightly different view. Having said that, however, I am very sensitive to the costs imposed by the Federal Government through the FAA on the industry.
I think I mentioned to you, sir, in one other context that on a continuum of safety if you assume one side is absolutely no regulation and the other side is you can't move anybody or anything unless it is 100 percent safe, those two extremes are simply not acceptable. One is too expensive, and the other is too risky.
Mr. HINSON. It is somewhere in between that the FAA and the DOT are challenged to provide the right balance of regulatory oversight and reasonable cost burdens to the industry not only air carriers, Mr. Chairman, but everybody else that is involved, manufacturers and thousands of general aviation aircraft that are out there.
I looked at the top 10 most expensive regulatory rules imposed by the agency since 1983. Our best estimate, and even if it is off by a factor of 100 percent, our best estimate is that we have added in current dollars about $1.07 to the cost of an average airline ticket since 1983. If we were off by a factor of 100, that would be $2.14, for the 10 most important and expensive safety initiatives that the agencies enacted since 1983.
It seems that that is reasonable, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Let me thank you very much, and let me just add very briefly that I am very pleased that you have had the experiences that you have had. I think that is very valuable to this whole process and particularly to the FAA.
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I might say, though, that in my statement preceding that, I did notI did not criticize the FAA. That does not mean that at some point you know I might not but I will say this, all of us can do better.
All of us can improve and if anybody loses the desire to improve or get better at whatever they are doing, then I think they owe it to themselves and to the people that they are serving to get out of that position and get into something else and I hopeand that applies to me as well as to anybody else. And I hope that feeling is one that you will encourage at FAA also. I hope 5 or 6 years from now the FAA is doing a much better job than it is now and I hope that 5 or 6 years from now, whatever, I might be doing that I am doing better than now.
Mr. HINSON. Yes, sir. It would be our objective in a perfect world not to have to issue one additional piece of regulation or advisory or emergency AD or anything else to anybody, but we are going to have to continue to do so because it is not a perfect world.
However, I didn't mean to imply when I was talking about costs that we aren't going to continue to try to reduce the burden. We are in factMr. Broderick and I have initiated within the past 15 months a number of very aggressive programs to do just that. And they range all the way from our call forwhat we called hate-a-reg. Tell us what you don't like, you would like to change, delete or alter in some way.
As you know, Mr. Broderick issued that report last Friday. And two areas in air traffic control within the last three weeks we have instituted over flight level 390 direct service between any two city pairs in the United States so any business carrier or air carrier flying over flight level 390 today can request and will be given direct routing there by saving substantial time and fuel for that operation. We hope to move that down to flight level 370 within the next 60 days or so and then down to flight level 350, and as we do this we will be able to push down the level at which mostly air carrier and business jets can operate in the direct fashion.
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This alone, when it is fully implemented, in terms of savings for fuel will be measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars, so we are in many ways beginning to aggressively address the burdens that are imposed by regulatory oversight.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, that is certainly very significant. Thank you very much.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I concur with you that a profitable airline industry is in the national interests. They have been through 4 years, you could even say 5 years of duress, financially: rising cost of fuel, the Gulf War that took away both passengers and markets and drove fuel costs not 50 percent but double over what they were; the loss of passengers, the fear of travel into the European market. It was devastating for our carriers and the national recession that we suffered in that time.
I don't think the establishment of the Airline Commission contributed to the economic recovery of the airlines. The economy did that. I said so many times when we were considering that legislation, the economy rebounded the airlines came with it and now we want to continue to provide a climate for growth and profitability to U.S. carriers.
In that period of time they became more lean, more focused, more competitive, and in turn that is causing us some problems in the international community because there are otherother countries, our competitors do not want to liberalize their aviation trade agreements and allow our carriers to compete with them. That is obiter dictum at this point.
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How many responses did you get to the hate-a-reg?
Mr. BRODERICK. I think it was about nearly 500 specific suggestions from about nearly 200 people or companies or organizations.
Mr. OBERSTAR. At the Minnesota Aviation Trades Conference, an FAA representative last Saturday said there were 180 responses.
Mr. BRODERICK. Something like that.
Mr. OBERSTAR. A rather poor response considering there are 325,000 general aviation pilots. When they had the chance to write in, they didn't. It is pretty small response.
And your own analysis of $1.04 annualized cost for enplanement in traffic collision and avoidance, access to secure areas, cockpit voice recorder, airborne low altitude wind sheer equipment, training, alcohol regulations, the flammability, anti-drug, deicing, transition to stage three, breathing equipment, all those things we have heard from time to time little complaint this is going to cost us too much. It doesn't cost very much.
Each one of those is either just a little over or certainly much under a dime per ticket. That is not burdensome in my judgment. A small price to pay for a big return in safety.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC My real concern about the rulemaking process is that time it takes to get to a regulation. I cited that in my remarks to the Aviation Safety Conference. We have talked about it often. Fifteen levels of sign-off to get clearance on regulations. What can you do to shorten that process?
Now, I don't think that we need to throw out cost/benefit analysis on safety regulations. I think you oughtthe costs of safety regulations ought to be considered much harder in many cases to assess the benefits. I think in one specific and egregious case is that of pilot fatigue.
Mr. Chairman, we have never had an NTSB investigation of an accident in which an autopsy can show that a pilot wasbecause a pilot was fatigued, the airplane crashed. You can't get that off of an autopsy. Yet we know, you know, driving a car, you are tired and you can't operate it properly. You know a pilot who is tired can't function properly and in the cockpit you know yourself Mr. Hinson because you are a pilot and a good one that you have to make judgments in fragments of a second.
And if you are not at the peek of alertness you can't do that. When that aircraft starts to role one way and you have got to compensate and you are not quite as alert as you need to be and you move it in the other direction and that rolls and the aircraft does a flip, you have lost it. And yet it has taken years to move on pilot fatigue.
Mr. HINSON. In that particular case, Mr. Oberstar, it is a science we are still learning a lot about. But let me comment particularly to your point about how long it takes to get some regulatory changes in place.
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For the benefit of the committee, sir, you know that we have emergency authority so that where we determine that a hazard to safe flight exists because of a circumstance that has been created or one which we have determined, we can act immediately and put into place the necessary steps, actions, or policies to remove the incident of an unsafe condition existing.
Let me ask Mr. Broderick to comment. We are working on this problem, Congressman, and I think we can do better and we are trying to do that and let Mr. Broderick explain some of the things we have under way.
Mr. BRODERICK. Very briefly, Mr. Chairman, we are trying to work within the FAA to change the processes that we have so that we can get rules out on a faster track. Some of the less significant ones we think should deserve a much more quick processing. We have a number of other procedural things in place that we are trying to work on just to shorten up the internal coordination time.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, it needs a lot of work and you do your best. You are superb in what you do and you haveyou, your predecessors, your whole team have made FAA the preeminent safety aviation agency in the world. And I just don't want to see anything to cause that status, that pedestal on which people put aviation and the FAA to deteriorate or crumble.
When it comes to the commuter issue, we have heard some talk about costs, but I know people in my district that I travel week after week come up to me and say, well, I see you getting on this plane so it must be safe, but are they all safe? You can't have that and sustain aviation.
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In the era of hub and spoke aviation where you are going to have commuters flying to the far end of the spokes to the little towns, the Brainards, the International Falls, the Hibbings, drawing them into the hub from which they are dispersed to other destinations, if that initial leg of travel isn't safe, as was said earlier in this hearing, people will be driving out on the highways in their cars where it is a lot less safe. It is public confidence we are talking about.
Mr. BRODERICK. Yes, sir, we certainly agree with that.
Mr. OBERSTAR. The red light is on and there are other Members here. I would like to yield and come back after they have had their questions.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Oberstar and we haven't had any questions from Mr. Tate, and Mr. Tate, if you have any questions of Administrator Hinson at this time you may proceed.
Mr. TATE. Thank you, Chairman Duncan. I do have a couple of questions.
They are local in nature, but I think they have broad implications maybe in other areas and specifically the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, SeaTac International Airport.
Just for background, it is a public entity that is the sponsor of the airport. The port has undertaken for quite some time a master plan and part of that master plan is expansion of a third runway which is estimated to cost somewhere, anywhere from a half billion up to a billion dollars, depending on whose estimates that you are looking at. And it really, as far as I can see in the studies I have seen, it can only change air transportation for a couple of years, maybe have some positive effect for a few years.
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The port is also drafting an environmental assessment and proposed environmental impact statement and all this information is going to be out this spring, but I guess my point is many of the surrounding communities, especially of thousands of cities and residents and cities and mayors feel they have been somewhat shut out of the process.
I don't know if there is some kind of regulatory change we can make in the process because this hearing is only regulation reform and looking at safety issues and so forth. Are there things that people can do and changes we can make in the process to give these people more input because they feel like they have been shut out?
Mr. HINSON. Congressman, to a large degree the local authorities and local laws in the community and in your State control the methodology by which your citizens can comment about a particular new project like a runway at SeaTac. For our part, the FAA will cooperate with local airport authority and other appropriate authorities when requested and only when requested. They come to us and say we are considering building a new runway, we would like to have some funding from the government, funding that is available for that.
Initially, we would like to have your opinion about will the runwaywhat the runway will do for air traffic, is it safe and so forth and so on, operational issues. We can certainly and have provided opinions on that. But with respect to providing vehicles for your local community to have input or be heard, I am less clear. I think essentially those are local issues. If in some cases where we have noise issues, because that is the one area
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Mr. TATE. That is my follow-up question more specifically on the noise study that is going on as well.
Mr. HINSON. In noise issues, we, as a matter of course, provide public hearings for everybody and we provide a lot of notice. We have more than enough hearings so that everybody can be heard. And we have a regular format for that.
Mr. TATE. Currently, traffic around SeaTac is also under attack. I mean, for example, the jets turn around houses about 2,500 feet. It is something called the four-post plan. And, again, the FAA has undertaken an EIS study of the issue. They have come out and had hearings. It sounds like you are aware of that. Are there regulations to permit the FAA to suggest an alternative course of action to what I see as the somewhat overly constrictive and prescriptive EIS process. Can you propose alternatives to those?
Mr. HINSON. I can't tell you specifically. I suspect that within limitation the answer would be yes, but what we normally try to do is adjudicate the different interests of every community relative to noise and you can imagine the problems that puts on our shoulders.
Mr. TATE. It is fairly heated hearings.
Mr. HINSON. We are pleased to do it as the law requires. The reason we turn aircraft in different places is to mitigate the noise over the entire community instead of focusing it on a neighborhood.
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Mr. TATE. I would definitely like to work with you on your staff on this specific issue because it is of great importance for our region and specifically our district. I think what happens here is the thing that has happened under the country in other areas and I would like to work with you on that.
Mr. HINSON. Yes, sir. We will do that.
Mr. TATE. Okay. Thanks.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Tate.
Vice Chairman Weller, do you have any additional questions?
Mr. WELLER. Yes, sir. Good afternoon, Administrator. It is always good to see someone with Illinois ties.
Mr. HINSON. Yes, sir, and I appreciate the opportunity to have a visit with you today.
Mr. WELLER. It is my understanding the FAA has plans to put some of the same sort of certification requirements on smaller airports that it currently imposes on major airports. Illinois, of course, is a very diverse State and small airports play a major role in our transportation needs. I was wondering, has your agency taken a look at the cost impact on these smaller airports that need to buy the necessary equipment and operate and maintain it under these additional certification rules?
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Mr. HINSON. I will give you sort of the legal overview and then I will ask Mr. Broderick to be more specific. The FAA and DOT for some years have requested authority or legislation from Congress to allow us to impose in an appropriate fashion certification requirements for airports that have scheduled service for aircraft that have less than 30 seats. Presently, we do not have that authority and could not impose certification even if we wished to do so, as long as the scheduled service at that airport is with passenger aircraft that have less than 30 seats.
The fact that we have asked for that legislative authority does not necessarily mean we would use it, but we think this is an opportunity for us to be a little more proactive in this area and obviously we would not imagine doing it every place. There are clearly places where it doesn't make sense. Now let me ask Mr. Broderick to embellish that a little bit.
Mr. BRODERICK. Just very briefly, any statutory authority that the Administrator has would have to be implemented by regulation and we would envision using an awful lot of common sense in the regulation to balance the difference between an airport that gets a few flights with a 10 passenger airplane every week and an airport that services 747s on an international flight. As a matter of fact, the current airport certification rules don't treat all airports the same.
It takes into account the volume of traffic and the size of the aircraft. We would anticipate doing the same kind of balancing in the event we were given statutory authority to apply certification standards to airports that service exclusively airplanes that have 30 seats or less.
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Mr. WELLER. Would you see considering the potential fiscal impact that this sort of certification may impose on the smaller airports. From your perspective, do you see any impact on the ability of some of these smaller airports to continue to have commuter service available or do you believe that the potential that some of these airports may discontinue commuter operations because of certification requirements if you are given the authority to have it?
Mr. HINSON. Well, I thinkI don't have the specific numbers, so I can'tI am going to theorize with you. I suspect that there are many smaller airports in our system that are isolated or seasonal as a resort or in Alaska or in upstate New York or Maine or other places where the airport is relatively busy at sometimes and not so busy in the winter or may only get infrequent service. There are a number of those airports that, if in fact certification was required. Would become economically marginal, if not downright, impossible in terms of their ability to continue to operate as an airport.
It is those circumstances that we need to apply common sense to. It is very difficult to make one regulation fit all circumstances in a fair and reasonable fashion.
Mr. WELLER. Wouldn't it be better to study the actual safety needs of the smaller airports rather than simply applying the rules governing some major airports to the smallest ones?
Mr. HINSON. I would not disagree with that at all. The only problem with that is even if we were to find an airport that was now receiving service at a level which we felt warranted additional certification criteria, we are unable to impose it today.
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Mr. WELLER. Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Mr. Hinson.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Weller. I have no additional questions for these witnesses so I would like to call on Mr. Oberstar for a final round of questions and comments.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The point that our colleague raised, Mr. Weller, before you leave, it is one of real interest to me, especially in this era of hub and spoke aviation I alluded to earlier. If you have some specific instances of airport costs relating to safety, I would be very much interested in seeing that and visiting with you about it.
It is something I think we need to look at, but if an airport has sufficient service that it is required to say have a fire truck, that is a cost that has to be imposed but it is alsoit is also something that sort of goes with the territory. If you have got thatif your level of service is up to that point that you have that many operations at the airport, then it is necessary to have that safety. But in between there may be a gray area and I would very much like to visit with you further about it.
The ATA criticizes FAA policy on airworthiness directives. Their testimony claims that when FAA imposes an AD when, quote, retrofit of the aircraft or equipment would be desirable, though not demanded, by safety needs, close quote, and further claims that you do not consider the costs of ADs especially when an aircraft has to be removed from service to comply with an AD.
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My experience is that FAA maybe even bend over too far backwards in allowing airlines to comply with ADs except in some emergency cases when they are doing their next C check or D check. Some of those situations I think is too long a time line, but I would like you to respond to the retrofit accusation.
Mr. HINSON. Mr. Chairman, I will make a brief response then ask Mr. Broderick to help me on this. It is his area of expertise. I would point out that the environment for issuing airworthiness directives is a legal environment.
The FAA is required by regulation and law to issue ADs in a specific fashion. We have several categories, as you know, of airworthiness directives but for the normal, so-called normal regulatory airworthiness directives, we have to publish those. The industry has an opportunity to comment. We have to do a cost benefit analysis.
And I would be willing to agree with ATA that on occasion the FAA has not used the best judgment in issuing ADs, in terms of meeting the criteria they suggest. I mean, after all, over the years the FAA has issued thousands of airworthiness directives and it only stands to reason that some of them may not have been well thought-out. However, I think on balance they are and let me ask Mr. Broderick to comment further.
Mr. BRODERICK. I could only agree with the Chairman's comments about improving. We issue about 400 airworthiness directives a year and obviously we are not perfect and some of them we do not do as good a job as others. But we do as a rule issue, unless there is an emergency, in fact, as a matter of practice and requirement, we issue a notice of proposed rulemaking as the Administrator said, we have a cost estimate. It is a bit different cost benefit analysis.
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It is really more of a cost-effectiveness analysis because you don't have the wide spectrum of alternatives. You have a specific problem that needs to be fixed not a range of alternative approaches to achieve a safety level, but the real key here is on exercising the judgment about what should or should not be retrofitted into existing airplanes. We can understand that there might be a difference of opinion between various parties in the proceeding, but we do encourage, solicit, and carefully weigh everybody's comments before we make a final decision in issuing the final rule after the notice and comment period.
If we can work better, we certainly will try to and we are in fact trying a number of procedures called lead airline procedure, for example, for airworthiness directives and working with manufacturers and our attorneys to try and improve the process of issuing ADs, getting as much information in early so that we can make the best possible judgment and we are open to any suggestions for improving that process.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I think you have done well, superbly. I don't want to see the process dragged out. I want to see it shortened.
The infamous Airline Commission said, quote, the U.S. air transportation system is the safest in the world, so safe that it can be extremely expensive to achieve even small incremental improvements in safety through the imposition of new rules and procedures, close quote.
That it seems to me, that statement is on a collision course with zero accidents. It is an irreconcilable position, it seems to me. And in this committee, this full Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, we have run the gamut in the clean water area of that issue of how much more will it cost to achieve another five percentage point increase in water quality by reducing phosphates, nitrates and other discharges into the waterways of this country. There is a little debate there. We are talking about safety about people's lives. When an aircraft is seven miles in the air there is no curb to pull over. You can't pull up the hood and look underneath. Redundancy is the essence of safety as you well know.
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How do you come at this issue of costs and zero accident? How much more do we have to do? And think for a moment while we have done an enormous amount in safety, there is still an uncharted area out there that we don't even know yet and much of that is in the human factors area.
Mr. HINSON. Well, we could, Mr. Oberstar, we could spend the afternoon and tomorrow and all next week on this subject but
Mr. OBERSTAR. Chairman Duncan will give you a couple of minutes.
Mr. HINSON. Yes, sir. I say that because I think it is obvious, at least I hope, that improvements beyond the very low rate that we have today will be hard won, that is to say, we are going to have to do some things differently than we have before. I said this at conference two weeks ago. I think clearly when we look at the overall safety equation, it is apparent that the part where the investment should be made is in human factors. Someone said perhaps we have fixed the easy things that there are to fix. We have worked at this very hard now for a long time. I think that may be true.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I would put it we fixed most of the technological fixes that we can fix.
Mr. HINSON. Yes, that is correct. Although we will find some more because we are always learning that, it is a science and we don't know it all. The human factors are clearly an area that is going to cause us a lot of work in research and development. We believe that zero accidents is the only goal that is appropriate for commercial air transport in the United States and we are close enough now that it is a reasonable goal as well.
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We went almost two-and-a-half years without a single passenger fatality in part 121 operations before the accident in Charlotte last summer, a year ago, in mid-1994. I think that is probably the beginning of long periods of time without fatalities. I really do believe we have the skills, the knowledge, and the organizational infrastructure to achieve zero defects, as difficult as it is, and we are going to continue our best efforts in that direction, although I will be frank to tell you some of them are as yet undefined because we don't know. That is part of the research and development that we have underway.
Mr. OBERSTAR. That is as good an answer as you can do in so short a period of time. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your indulgence.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Oberstar, for your valuable contributions always to this subcommittee and, Mr. Hinson, and, Mr. Broderick, we thank you. You have had to appear before this subcommittee on many occasions and you have always treated us with great courtesy and respect and have been very helpful in the proceedings of this subcommittee. I appreciate your testimony and your contributions today.
And with that, we will bring this hearing to a conclusion.
Mr. HINSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[Whereupon, at 3:55 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
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[Insert folios 671 here.]
WAYS TO REDUCE UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATES AND REGULATORY BURDENS ON THE AVIATION INDUSTRY WITHOUT AFFECTING THE SAFETY OF THE TRAVELING PUBLIC
SUBCOMMITTEE ON AVIATION
TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCHOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS
FEBRUARY 1, 1995
Printed for the use of the
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania, Chairman
DON YOUNG, Alaska
WILLIAM F. CLINGER, Jr., Pennsylvania
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
HERBERT H. BATEMAN, Virginia
BILL EMERSON, Missouri
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
SUSAN MOLINARI, New York
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCWILLIAM H. ZELIFF, Jr., New Hampshire
THOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
Y. TIM HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
BILL BAKER, California
JAY KIM, California
STEPHEN HORN, California
BOB FRANKS, New Jersey
PETER I. BLUTE, Massachusetts
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
JACK QUINN, New York
TILLIE K. FOWLER, Florida
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
SPENCER T. BACHUS, Alabama
JERRY WELLER, Illinois
ZACH WAMP, Tennessee
TOM LATHAM, Iowa
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
ANDREA SEASTRAND, California
RANDY TATE, Washington
SUE KELLY, New York
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
BILL MARTINI, New Jersey
NORMAN Y. MINETA, California
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
ROBERT E. WISE, Jr., West Virginia
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
JAMES A. HAYES, Louisiana
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
MIKE PARKER, Mississippi
GREG LAUGHLIN, Texas
GLENN POSHARD, Illinois
BUD CRAMER, Alabama
BARBARAROSE COLLINS, Michigan
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
PAT DANNER, Missouri
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
CORRINE BROWN, Florida
NATHAN DEAL, Georgia
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
BOB FILNER, California
WALTER R. TUCKER III, California
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCEDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
BILL K. BREWSTER, Oklahoma
SUBCOMMITTEE ON AVIATION
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee, Chairman
JERRY WELLER, Illinois, Vice Chairman
WILLIAM F. CLINGER, Jr., Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
WILLIAM H. ZELIFF, Jr., New Hampshire
THOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
Y. TIM HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
JAY KIM, California
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
SPENCER T. BACHUS, Alabama
ANDREA SEASTRAND, California
RANDY TATE, Washington
SUE KELLY, New York
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
BILL MARTINI, New Jersey
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
ROBERT E, WISE, Jr., West Virginia
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
JAMES A. HAYES, Louisiana
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
BARBARAROSE COLLINS, Michigan
JERROLD NADLER, New York
PAT DANNER, Missouri
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
NORMAN Y. MINETA, California
Campbell, Tim, Executive Vice President, Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, and Chairman, American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), on behalf of AAAE and the Airports Council International-North America
Coyne, James K., President, National Air Transportation Association
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Hinson, David R., Federal Aviation Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration accompanied by Antony Broderick, Associate Administrator for Regulation and Certification
Landry, James E., President, Air Transport Association of America
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Clement, Hon. Bob, of Tennessee
Costello, Hon. Jerry F., of Illinois
Martini, Hon. Bill, of New Jersey
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY WITNESSES
Coyne, James K
Hinson, David R
Landry, James E
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