SCHUMER, IN EFFORT TO KEEP ONONDAGAS AIR-1 UP AND RUNNING, URGES FAA TO SPEED UP APPROVAL OF FLIGHT LICENSE BEFORE COUNTY LEGISLATURE VOTES ON FUNDING
If Onondaga Sheriffs Office Has License From FAA, They Will be Able To Begin Covering Operating Costs By Charging For Their Services, Thus Relieving Local Taxpayers Of Burden Once Approved, County Legislature Could Vote To Fund Pilots, But Would Not Be Forced To Support The Entire Cost Of Air-1 Or Gut It Altogether, Ensuring That The Sheriffs Office Could Keep Its Life-Saving Chopper In The Air Schumer: FAA Approval Means Life Saving Flights Can Continue, And Local Taxpayers
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the Federal Aviation Administration to speed up the approval of the Onondaga Sheriff's office's request for an FAA commuter charter license for its Air1 helicopter. The Sheriff's office has applied for an FAA license, which would allow the chopper to charge for its flights, thus relieving local taxpayers of the heavy operating costs. The County legislature is expected to vote on funding levels for the helicopter when it considers its budget for the coming fiscal year on October 10 th. If the FAA approves the license before October 10 th, county legislators will be assured that the Air1 chopper will begin to become selfsustaining, making it more likely that they will approve funding for the pilots to keep Air1 in the air, saving lives.
"Air1 is a life saving helicopter that makes Central New York safer," said Schumer. "We have a winwin solution here that can keep Air1 up in the air while relieving the burden on local taxpayers. If the FAA grants this license, Air1 will be well on its way to being a selfsustaining, lifesaving program that will benefit area residents without driving up taxes. I strongly urge the FAA to sign off on this license, to keep Air1 flying, and keep the tax burden low."
Schumer already successfully sped up the push for notforprofit status for Air1, which has led to the creation of a foundation through which Air1 can receive donations, thus further relieving the burden on local taxpayers. While it often takes the IRS three months to approve requests for notforprofit status, Schumer successfully secured this designation just three weeks after the sheriff applied. In a personal letter to FAA Administrator Babbitt, Schumer urged the agency to speed up the processing of the license application, so that the Sheriff's office has the application in hand before the county votes on funding levels October 10 th.
A copy of Schumer's letter appears below:
September 22, 2011
Administrator, Randy Babbitt
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20591
Dear Administrator Babbitt:
I write today regarding a Commuter Charter Pilot License application submitted to you by the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department in regards to their helicopter, AIR1. The application submitted is awaiting official review. I am asking the FAA to expedite this review process as it relates to AIR1 because of the public safety service it provides in and around Onondaga County.
I have been working with officials in the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office for several months, helping to streamline their effort to privatize AIR1 and have learned of the many thousands of hours volunteered and the lives saved because it was in the air.
The chopper performs both medical transports and serves as a homeland security tool for Upstate, New York. The continued success of this chopper, and the county's aviation program, depends on a strong publicprivate partnership-the reason an expedited review by your agency is so urgent.
Again, I request that your agency approve AIR1's application as soon as possible and remain available to answer any questions you might have regarding this matter. Moreover, I know the Sheriff's Department stands ready to provide any additional information you might need to expedite their application's approval.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
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