Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/02/1997 01:05 PM TRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 33 - FAA FIELD APPROVAL OF TUNDRA TIRES Number 40 VICE-CHAIR MASEK indicated that the committee would consider HJR 33, "Relating to Federal Aviation Administration approval of installations of tundra tires on aircraft." She invited Mr. Edward Graser to testify. Number 104 EDWARD GRASER, Legislative Assistant to Representative Beverly Masek, came forward to testify on HJR 33. He stated that this resolution was a message to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Congressional delegation. It asks them to reverse the rule that was issued on January 21, 1997 disallowing aviation safety inspectors from issuing field approvals for tundra tires. MR. GRASER added that tundra tires comes in various shapes and sizes. There's a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) tundra tire which is still allowed and used by many pilots in the state. These come in either 24 or 29 inch sizes. There are a lot of Super Cub pilots that use field approval type tires made by a company named Air Streak. These are a 29 inch inner-tube type tire that absorbs a lot of shock in rough landing situations. In recent years a tire has been developed by a gentleman in Eagle River that use old racing strips from dragsters for tundra tires on airplanes. MR. GRASER continued that if the aviation safety inspectors are not allowed to issue field approvals, these types of tires will once again have to go through an STC process. This is a certification process and it's very time intensive and expensive for the manufacturer. They would probably not do this if aviation inspectors were allowed to issue field approvals, but if inspectors are not allowed to issue field approvals, then these types of tires would not be legal for a while. The STC process takes anywhere from a year to five years. Number 300 MR. GRASER referred to a handout in the file which shows that the FAA in 1995 did flight tests on tundra tires with a Super Cub and found that the safety problems presented by the use of these tires was negligible. He stated personally that he's flown a Super Cub with 30 inch Airstreak, tundra tires, for the last twenty years and he's never had an accident. These types of tires have prevented him from having accidents considering the types of terrain he's landed on. This is the real issue. The only safe way to access many areas that Alaskans traditionally travel to is with tundra tires. This resolution asks the FAA to go back to a system that's been in place for the last several decades on field approval of tundra tires so people can legally fly their airplanes with this type of equipment. Number 386 REPRESENTATIVE JOHN COWDERY stated that he's had experience in flying and supports this legislation. It comes down to a safety issue and if a pilot is found out of compliance with this new requirement essentially their insurance coverage is null and void. He thought this resolution was very timely. Number 530 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON pointed out that in the sponsor statement it states that not using tundra tires can create a safety problem, but no where in the resolution is the issue of safety mentioned with the exception of at line page 1, line 16, "Whereas discontinuing the former practice of allowing field approval of tundra tire installations will not improve air safety but will cause significant inconvenience to pilots in Alaska." He added that significant inconvenience is important but not nearly as important as safety issues. He felt a new section should be included to read, "Whereas the use of tundra tires has allowed Alaskans to pioneer the remote reaches of Alaska and to access those areas much more safely than through the use of non-tundra tires." Number 757 MR. GRASER stated that this was a good point, but unfortunately he didn't know if the drafter of the resolution was familiar enough with tundra tires or the issue to fully address safety as well. He also added that the local members of the FAA in Anchorage have sent a letter back to headquarters addressing this issue, requesting that the aviation inspectors in the field be allowed to issue field approvals. They refused to release this letter since they view it as an internal matter and they didn't want any information going public that showed a significant portion of the local members of the FAA were in opposition to what the headquarters had issued as a directive. He noted that a member of the Alaskan contingency of the FAA is in Washington, D.C. right now working to reverse this rule. He said that Representative Elton's suggestions were well taken and if the committee so desired they could add this language as suggested. Number 775 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON read the proposed amendment into the record and suggested that it be inserted on page two, after line two. "Whereas use of tundra tires has allowed Alaskans to pioneer the remote areas of Alaska and to access those areas much more safely than through the use of standard aviation tires,". It was decided that this would be considered a conceptual amendment since there was discussion on specific language regarding "standard aviation tires." VICE-CHAIR MASEK asked the committee if there was any objection to this Amendment 1. Hearing none, it was so adopted. Number 834 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY moved and asked unanimous consent to move CSHJR 33(TRA), as amended, out of committee with individual recommendations and zero fiscal note. Hearing no objection, CSHJR 33(TRA) was moved out of the House Transportation Committee.