- The Washington Times - Monday, March 29, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

There are two federal bills about to take effect that clearly show how Congress’ meddling in areas it does not understand can have adverse consequences for America.

On March 16, the Senate unanimously passed a proposal that would more than triple from current standards the number of flight hours a commercial co-pilot must have before he may fly passengers. This may seem like a good thing, but in reality, there will not be enough qualified pilots who possess that experience to meet the demand of the regional airlines.

As a result, there will be a huge deficiency of short-haul flights throughout the country. With fewer flights, the cost of flying will increase dramatically, and more people will be driving, which is far more dangerous. So much for the intent of improving safety.

After next month, when the Passenger Bill of Rights takes effect, there will be many, many cancellations of flights by the major airlines. They will do this to avoid possible extended ground delays. This misguided law will fine the airlines up to “$27,500 per passenger” (yes, you read that right) if the aircraft is delayed on the ground for more than three hours without allowing the passengers to deplane. Rather than take a chance on this outrageous penalty, pilots will taxi back to the gate, even if takeoff is only moments away, rather than be punished soseverelyfor the delay.

The irony in this is that delays are almost always caused by weather and an antiquated air-traffic-control system run by - you guessed it - the government.

If Congress would stick to what it ought to be doing and stay out of issues like these that it doesn’t understand, our country would be much better off.

JAMES C. GREEN

Continental Airlines pilot, retired

Midway, Utah

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