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Agency to Assume Part of FAA's Job Proposed

November 16, 1986|MARCIDA DODSON | Times Staff Writer

The national president of the commercial airlines' trade association has called for the establishment of a new aviation agency that would oversee the operational end of domestic air travel, leaving the Federal Aviation Administration to deal with safety matters.

William F. Bolger, president of the Air Transport Assn., said the proposed national aviation authority would be a federal corporation, "run like a business," that would be responsible for long-term planning and adopting policies to avoid delays at overcrowded airports.

Bolger, speaking to a Town Hall of California meeting Friday in Irvine, also called for more air traffic controllers--at least 1,000--and the replacement of outdated radar and computer equipment.

Insisting that "it is perfectly safe to fly," Bolger pointed out that there has not been a single domestic air travel passenger fatality in 14 months, or about 7 million flights. The 67 passengers and crew who died when the Aeromexico jetliner collided with a private plane over Cerritos in September are considered international flight fatalities.

Safety Matters

"But in matters of aviation safety, however good the record is, there can never be complacency, as recent events in this area have attested so starkly," he said.

In a press conference after the speech, he acknowledged that the number of near-misses between private and commercial aircraft appears to be increasing. The airline industry supports actions that control the mix of commercial and private aircraft, he said. These include more airports for general aviation and a rule recently proposed by the FAA that would require all private planes flying near major airports to have equipment that sends signals relaying their altitude to air traffic controllers, he said.

The new agency would tap a $4.3-billion aviation trust fund surplus that is supposed to be spent to improve the safety and capacity of the nation's airways, he said. The fund, financed from the 8% tax on domestic flight fares and a $3 charge on international departures, is expected to grow to $10 billion by 1989, he said, but it has been "shackled" because "Congress and the Administration haven't gotten around to taking the steps to spend it."

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