March 01, 2007
WHO GAVE: David Chevalier—owner, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters
WHO RECEIVED: President George W. Bush
DATE: Nov. 13, 2003
Very interesting story in the Feb. 20, 2007 Maui News. "When it
comes to making decisions on air safety," writes News City Editor Edwin
Tanji, "Maui-based helicopter tour operator David Chevalier isn't
waiting for the federal government to decide what the rules should be."
The story, headlined "Air tour operators taking safety into their
own controls," mostly concerns Chevalier, owner of Blue Hawaiian
Helicopters, and his view that the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) is so "slow" in approving new safety rules that he insists on
following "his own high standards for air safety." But what's really
fascinating is Chevalier's explanation for the FAA's glacier-like pace:
"I think it all comes down to funding," he said. It's a perfectly
logical and reasonable reason, but one that also flies in the face of
Chevalier's 2003 financial contribution to the George W. Bush's
reelection campaign. For the past six years, Bush has done wonders to
hobble agencies like the FAA. In fact, his current proposed budget for
the FAA includes more than $500 million in cuts that will hit air
traffic control, safety inspection and small airports that cater to
general aviation. "[J]ust this past Friday, the [FAA] Administrator
told us to expect about 30 percent fewer inspectors to be hired," U.S.
Senator Patty Murray (D, Washington) said in May, 2006. "So with all
the requirements placed on our flight safety inspectors, their number
will still be well below the level the agency had back in 2003."
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