FAA REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2009 -- (House of Representatives - May 21, 2009)
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Mr. SALAZAR. Mr. Chairman, today I rise to enter into a colloquy with the distinguished chairman of the Transportation Committee.
First of all, Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you and Mr. Costello for your strong leadership and for improving the safety of air ambulance operations. I want to thank you for working with us on this issue over the last couple of years. I've had an opportunity to discuss my legislation with you.
Mr. Chairman, I rise today to support your amendment, which includes a section that will enhance the safety of helicopters to the air medical safety community. As you know, there have been far too many fatal accidents over the years, and I thank the chairman for working on this issue over the past 4 years.
We have seen three fatal air ambulance crashes in my district. A flight crew from Steamboat Springs crashed on January 11, 2005. A few months later, on June 30, 2005, an EMS helicopter crashed in Mancos, Colorado. On October 4, 2007, we lost three lives near Pagosa Springs. Two of those involved fixed-wing aircraft, and that is why it's so critical to improve the safety standards on all aircraft that provide air ambulance services.
Mr. LUNGREN and I introduced legislation to increase the safety of all aircraft, not only of helicopters, and of pilots providing air ambulance services. Our legislation includes both helicopters and fixed wings.
I would like to ask if you would be willing to work with us to include all aircraft that provide air medical services in the future.
I yield to the chairman.
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Mr. SALAZAR. Mr. Chair, I thank the Gentleman from New York for yielding and I would like to recognize Chairman Oberstar and Chairman Costello for their exceptional leadership on this very important bill.
Mr. Chair, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 915, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009, and urge its passage.
There are many good and important issues addressed in this bill: safety, nextgen, consumer protections, and increased funding to the Airport Improvement Program.
But I'd like to especially thank the leadership on the committee for working with me on several issues that are particularly important to my constituents back home.
H.R. 915 provides increased funding to local governments throughout the country to maintain and develop their airports, which serve as cornerstones for economic growth.
As many of us come from and represent small, rural communities, we appreciate the need to preserve and improve rural aviation programs, such as Essential Air Service.
EAS serves rural communities across the country that otherwise would not receive any scheduled air service.
There are more than 140 rural communities nationwide, including Cortez, Alamosa and Pueblo in my state of Colorado, that rely on this program and will benefit from this legislation.
And I again want to thank the Chairman for working with me to ensure our EMS flights meet the highest safety standards.
Overall, I'm pleased to see the improvements made in this bill and I hope the Senate will follow our lead and move this important piece of legislation.
I believe H.R. 915 ensures that we remain the world's safest aviation system, and I urge my colleagues to support this bill.