Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/02/1997 01:05 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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               
 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              
 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.                  

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