Science United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Comm.

Nomination of David Russell Hinson to be administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration : hearing before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, first session, July 20, 1993 online

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Thank you, sir.

[Biographical data of Mr. Hinson follows:]

Biographical Data

Name: Hinson, David Russell; address: 114 Rail Road, P.O. Box 1891, Ketchum,
ID 83340; business address: Douglas Aircraft, 3855 Lakewood Boulevard, Long
Beach, CA 90808.

Position to which nominated: Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration.

Date of birth: March 2, 1933; place of birth: Muskogee, OK.

Marital status: Married; full name of spouse: Ursula Berta Hinson; names and
ages of children: Eric Peter, 32; Spencer David, 31; and Heidi Ann, 29.



Education: University of Washington, 1951-54, B.A. General Studies; U.S. Navy
Flight Training, 1954^5, Naval Aviator; University of Washington, 1960-61, Busi-
ness; and Stanford University Graduate School of Business, 1972, Executive Pro-

Employment: 1954-59, U.S. Navy, Pacific Fleet, Carrier Pilot; 1959-62, Northwest
Airlines, Airline Pilot; 1962-63, United Airlines, Flight Instructor; 1963-73, Hughes
Airwest, Executive Assistant to General Manager; 1973-85, Hinson-Mennella, Inc.,
President and CEO; 1985-91, Midway Airlines, Chairman and CEO; and 1991-93,
McDonnell Douglas, Executive Vice President.

Government experience: Oregon-1975, Appointed by Governor Straub (D) to Citi-
zens Commission on Liquor Control; and Oregon-1980, Appointed by Governor
Atieyh (R) as Commissioner on Economic Development Commission for Oregon.

Political afliliations: Oregon-1984, State Committee to Reelect Reagan-Bush. Fi-
nancial contributions: BUI Lipinski, Congress: 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990 ($100
each year); Marty Russo, Congress: 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990 ($100 each year);
Mayor Richard Daly, Chicago: 1988, 1989 ($100 each year); Denny Smith, Congress:
1983, 1984, 1985 ($100 each year); Neil Goldschmidt, Mayor, Portland, OR: 1984,
$100; Paul Simon, Senator: 1986, $100; and Reagan-Bush: 1984, $1,000.

Memberships: University of Chicago, Member, Advisory Board, Graduate School
of Business; University of Washington, Member, Advisory Board, Graduate School
of Business; Lewis & Clark College, Trustee, Board of Trustees; Naval Aviation Mu-
seum Foundation, Member, Board; Society Air Safety Investigators, Member, and
United Cerebral Palsy Drive, Chicago, Chairman (1987-88).

Honors and awards: Hughes Airwest Award of Merit; Illinois Vietnam Veterans
Association "Man of the Year" (1989); Stanford Graduate School of Business, Mid-
west Business Man of the Year (1989); and Illinois Business Roundtable, elected

Published writings: None.

The Chairman. Mr. Hinson, when we talked in these glowing
terms up here in Washington about we are No. 1, that we are the
world's superpower, I cannot help but think that we also are the
world's superbroke, and that the first thing we had to do is borrow
$1 billion at 8 o'clock this morning to keep the doors open.

Now, when you say the world's foremost aviation authority at the
forefront of international standardization and technical improve-
ment, we know that we are behind on the traffic control moderniza-

We keep asking administrators to give us a game plan. And that
will be my request.

And I will yield to our chairman, Senator Ford, who is given
leadership in aviation here on the Senate side.

What happens to the FAA is that people put their money into a
trust fund. I keep paying into it everv week when I travel by plane,
and yet my money is used for something else. It is not used for air
traffic control modernization, or safety, or any of the important pro-
grams of the FAA. Instead, it is used to mask the deficit. There is
no deficit in the Aviation Trust Fund. In fact there is a $4.4 billion
surplus, and they are cutting your budget.

So, as a Senator, I know that we are going to be in conference
on the Transportation appropriations bill right after Labor Day
fighting to get you the money you need. I want to be fortified with
the facts.

You get in there and work out a game plan that you expect, as
Administrator, to implement in general terms for the next year, the
next 2 years or the next 3 years, whatever you wish or think is re-
alistic in a short period of time. That way we can properly allocate
those funds, because I know we should not be cutting $300 million
out of the AIP program, when we are rebuilding our airports.


That is not an exercise in fiscal prudence. It is taking your
money and running it after somebody else's deficit. So, on that
basis, you give me that plan or tell me that the Secretary of Trans-
portation says you cannot do it or the President says you cannot,

I want to know why and how so when we come back here after
Labor Day, I have something in front of me, as a member of the
Appropriations Committee, that I can argue to continue to get your
job done.

Mr. HiNSON. Yes, sir. I will do that.

The Chairman. Thank you very much.

Senator Ford.

Senator Ford. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have several questions for the nominee. And then I have sub-
mitted some questions that he will respond to in writing, which are
not necessary for my support as the Administrator of FAA.

And this includes some of the questions that we have discussed
by our colleagues who are not here this morning, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Hinson, the FAA procurement process continues to be a con-
stant frustration. I personallv do not understand why it takes three
to 5 years to get off-the-shelf equipment like an instrument landing
system that we refer to as ILS, equipment acquired and installed
in a reasonable timeframe.

My experience in trying to help airports, particularly in Ken-
tucky, is that the process is slow, and it is inefficient, and under
those two circumstances make them expensive.

What we see are excessive delays in the process which get in the
way of important safety capacity and efficiency improvements.

Would you agree that if the FAA acquired and maintained an in-
ventory — if we could use that term or use that proposal — of naviga-
tion aids to be available to airports when they are approved, there
could be considerable costsavings to project sponsors and the Fed-
eral Government, and the acquisition and installation process could
be shortened?

Mr. Hinson. Senator, in any business, the careful control of in-
ventory is a very important part of managing the financial effi-
ciency of that organization.

I am not intimately familiar with the inventory policies at the
FAA. So, I cannot tell you for a fact whether we do or do not have
inventory on the shelf with respect to, say, the ILS.

I can assure you, though, that if I am confirmed, that one of my
early interests will be to determine as a function of the procure-
ment process exactly what our inventory policies are, because, as
you suggest, they can play an important role in reducing our costs
and making us more efficient.

Senator Ford. All right. Mr. Hinson, you know, there is a lot of
enthusiasm by aviation users for navigation aids like LORAN-C
and instrument landing systems. As I understand it, the global po-
sitioning satellite, the GPS— —

Mr. Hinson. Yes, sir.

Senator Ford [continuing]. Is compatible with these technologies.
And substantial investment has already been made by the Govern-
ment and aviation users to these systems.

I understand the excitement. I have been there before on some
other projects with the capabilities of GPS, but I fear we might


have another MLS situation where the FAA attempts to stop all in-
stallation of other navigation systems years before the new tech-
nology is ready.

Does it make good sense to continue taking advantage of these
landing aids?

Mr. HiNSON. Senator, the evolution of technology on the systems
available to the FAA to aid in navigation is always going to impact
a decision process as to when you stop using an old technology and
begin using a new technology.

In the case of MLS, for instance, the advent of GPS and the will-
ingness of the U.S. Government to make that available to the
world's users has caused us to begin to investigate its applicability
for low visibility approaches, precision approaches, as a considered
alternative to ILS and/or MLS.

It is my understanding that we will not really know the answer
to that question for 1, 2, or 3 more years while we do the necessary
research and development. There are a number of other issues with
GPS as well.

In the interim, we are continuing a low level of research and de-
velopment on MLS, because the European Community, among oth-
ers, is intent on using MLS. And, as you know, our primary system
is ILS.

I think I could answer your question, though, by simply stating
that at some point, we have to make a collective decision to freeze
the technology and go forward. I will look at that carefully.

Senator Ford. The problem is that if you freeze it too early and
you do not use it, then the other one is not far enough along

Mr. HiNSON. Yes, sir.

Senator Ford [continuing]. That you have confidence in it.
Therefore, you lose both ways. And so until you have the confidence
in the new technology, I think we ought to continue to expedite
those that are — or at least use those that we have confidence in.

The chairman mentioned this a moment ago, but substantial re-
sources have been provided for the advanced automation system.
We refer to it as the AAS program. The flying public has paid and
expects a modem, efficient national air transportation system.

Secretary Pefia has repeatedly stated that he is committed to the
AAS program, and that it will meet its new time table and budget.

One of the biggest problems with this program is that no Admin-
istrator has really taken an interest, even though billions of dollars
have already been appropriated. The FAA and IBM seem to be, to
this Senator, to be on the right track now.

But can you assure this committee that you are fully committed
to this program and that you will work cooperatively with the
prime contractor to see that the program gets the high priority, at
least I feel it should have, and full attention to meet its required

Mr. HiNSON. Yes, sir. I will. I cannot speak for the gentlemen
who were the former Administrators about their interest level in
the AAS system or, previous to that, the NAS plan or the CIP plan.

But I can assure you that I have a very high interest in the suc-
cessful implementation of the Airway Modernization Program.


My briefings have indicated that the FAA has set new deadlines
and new milestones. And they are managing the program in a
much more professional manner.

I am pleased to tell you this morning that I have been advised
that the first two of those milestones have been met, the second
one 10 days early up at the Gaithersbure facility. The next two
milestones are 9-1 and 10-1. And I am told that those are on track
and will be met as well.

This program, however, requires an ongoing, continuous, persist-
ent, aggressive management effort by FAA, because when you are
trying to build a sophisticated, complicated system of this mag-
nitude, there are always unknowns.

And it is the unusual and the unexpected that is more normal
than not in a program like this. I think the FAA is now properly
sensitized to the dimensions of the management required to do this

And, Senator, it is going to be a very, very high priority of mine.

Senator Ford. I just want the attention of my colleagues on the
questions and answers that are going on here.

One of the greatest problems that has been facing the FAA is
that no Administrator in the last decade stayed over an average of
18 months. This musical chairs situation has always disturbed me.

And that spurred my effort to make FAA gm independent agency
and appoint the Administrator for 7 or 9 years or try to work it

And at about the time the Administrator learned the ropes and
reorganized and got the chairs and the desk moved around, he is
gone. And I understand you have given a commitment to stay for
the President's term. And I commend you for that promise.

And one other thing, Mr. Chairman, we have not had to issue a
waiver for this gentleman. [Laughter.]

Used to be, we could not get the waivers through, and we had
the nominee confirmed; or we did not have the nominee confirmed,
and we had the waiver through. And so it was always a problem.

I would like to commend you for that because it, I believe, will
be beneficial to not only FAA but to the system. Would you like to
comment on your commitment to stay on under the President's

Mr. HiNSON. Senator, the FAA Administrator serves at the pleas-
ure of the President and, in order to be effective, should have a
very close and effective relationship with the Secretary of Trans-

And as I said earlier, I am very flattered and pleased to have
been nominated by the President. And I have already established
what I believe to be a very close and effective relationship with the

Let me conclude my comments on tenure by just saying that in
any structural organization that requires ongoing management, I
think it is safe to say stability is preferable to instability.

Senator Ford. I have taken too much time, Mr. Chairman. I
have just a couple of others. And I will just go through those.

I am very concerned about the noise problem, as you know. And
we passed a bill here in 1990 that finally gave us a national policy.


A number of the airports are convinced that they are — that they
have the ablHty to phase out a stage 2 aircraft sooner than the na-
tional standards. I do not beHeve that. They have the ability to im-
pose restrictions on their airports as to times and landings and
things, but I want you to look at that very closely.

And on the letter of intent, Mr. Hinson, the House Appropria-
tions Committee has included in the FAA budget elimination of let-
ters of intent for airport construction projects.

As long as I have been dealing with this as Governor and now
here, I know of no other way to fund multimillion dollar airport
projects in any other way. Certainly, the annual appropriation
process will not work. So, I hope that you will help us with the let-
ter of intent.

And one other item — and, Mr. Chairman, as I close, last spring
in an FAA authorization hearing, I inquired as to the need and cost
of the Aviation Safety Journal. One year later, and several editions
of the Aviation Safety Journal later, I received a response from

There has to be a cheaper way of getting the message out, Mr.
Chairman. I understand the House Appropriations Committee has
eliminated the funding for the publication. And I want you to know
I highly concur.

It is a pretty nice piece of slick, five-color, good work, but the
message is just not there. And I hope that, under your watch, the
FAA will be more sensitive to the budget and environmental con-

I thank the chairman. I have taken too long.

The Chairman. No. Very good.

Senator Inouye is scheduled to chair another hearing. Let me
yield to him now.

Senator Inouye. Mr. Hinson, I am sorry that I cannot be here
to listen to your responses, but I would like to submit to you my
questions and ask for your consideration, sir.

Mr. Hinson. Yes, sir. Thank you very much.

Senator Inouye. Thank you very much.

The Chairman. Thank you very much. And let me take some
time, before some of these distinguished colleagfues leave, to recog-
nize our newly appointed Member, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas.
We are very pleased to have her.

If you know the State of Texas, they have very important airline
facilities located there. In fact, having campaigned there, you can-
not get anywhere in Texas except by plane. [Laughter.]

So, we are very, very honored to have you. Senator Hutchison.
And we will recognize you, as we always do here, in the order of

And since we have about 11 more members — I hope the members
will limit themselves as they will.

Senator McCain.

Senator McCain. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I had the opportunity of campaigning for Mrs. Hutchison in
Texas. And we ran off the runway in one little town in Texas. So,
I am very interested in your looking at some of those runways, Mr.
Hinson. [Laughter.]


Mr. Hinson, a kind of a funny thing is going on in Washington
today and in these couple of weeks. One of them is we have an air-
line commission which is appointed, as you know, to examine the
ways that we can make the airline industry survivable. I believe
just last summer, a $4 billion hemorrhage took place in the indus-

And as usual, information about their recommendations are com-
ing out. One of them will be that they be exempt from the gas tax.
At the same time, there is a story in the Washington Post this
morning, "Once Reviled Gasoline Tax Gains Appeal."

I will not ask you your opinion as to whether the gas tax should
be passed or not, but it is, I think, kind of paradoxical that here
we are, on the one hand, trying to save an industry, and one of the
key recommendations will be to repeal the gas tax. And the other,
of course, is that the gas tax seems to be gaining momentum.

But what I would like to ask you about is one of the rec-
ommendations that is reported this morning. It is that there will
be created an independent corporation within the Department of
Transportation that would take over developing and running the
air traffic control system.

The corporation would have the power to raise its own funds by
issuing bonds and, according to the panel, could move more quickly
and efficiently than the F/U^ on such issues as movement of sat-
ellite-based air traffic control system. Safety functions and overall
policy guidance will remain with the FAA.

Do you have any views on that recommendation, Mr. Hinson?

Mr. Hinson. Good morning. Senator McCain. I have not read the
draft report of the commission. And I only, like you, perhaps have
read the newspaper this morning. So, I do not have a clear under-
standing of their recommendation.

If I were to speculate — and I have been told I should not, but I
will anyway. If I were to speculate, I think their view is to provide
a constant and known source of funding, leaving FAA within DOT,
but actually setting up some sort of special corporation which has
the authority and the ability to issue bonds and do other financing.
Whether or not that is a good idea, I do not know.

Senator McCain. Well, I went down and spent a couple of hours
with them. And I was very impressed by the Commission, the ex-
pertise and the talent and dedication involved there.

What they feel, what they are reflecting is the information and
the testimony before that commission that the FAA moves very
slowly, is inefficient, and has failed to respond to the requirements
for modernization of the air traffic control system for a whole vari-
ety of reasons.

And I wonder if you at least agree with their conclusions that
there have to be improvements made, if not specifically that rec-
ommendation to create an independent corporation.

Mr. Hinson. Yes, sir. I do agree with that. I do think there are
necessary improvements to be made. And I believe that is one of
the reasons that I am sitting here.

Senator McCain. Thank you. At risk of provoking another dis-
cussion which has gone on for many years on this committee, I
would like to point out to you what you already know far better


than I do, and that is that the commercial aircraft orders have
been off 25 percent in 1991.

The aerospace industry is in a slump. The product of new general
aviation aircraft has plummeted from 18,000, just a few years ago,
to 656 this year. Employment has been cut in half

Cessna has been out of the twin-engine piston aircraft business
since 1986, from 9,000 at its peak. The average age of single-engine
aircraft in America is 27 vears.

The commercial aircraft industry in America is becoming so des-
perate that they are willing to settle just for a limitation on a pe-
riod of repose of 15 or 20 years.

Do you have any views on that?

Mr. HiNSON. Well, Senator, as you know, in our brief discussion,
I spent a little over 13 years or so active in general aviation. I
know the industry quite well, and as vou correctly point out, it is,
to use the right word, a disaster. We have gone from, as you have
said, 17,000-odd airplanes, down to 600. I know of no other viable
industry that could sustain that sort of punishment and continue.

Specifically, to your question, I am going to suggest to you I am
not a lawyer. I am not intimate with all of the issues of product
liability, and whether there should be repose at 10, 15, or 20 years,
or repose at all, I cannot say. I know that on this very committee
there are differences of opinion on that.

I would hope that perhaps a proper compromise could be reached
that would hopefully satisfy the two views. Certainly, anything
that could be done that was constructive, and not harmful, and pro-
tected interests, would be very beneficial to the general aviation in-

Senator McCain. Thank you, Mr. Hinson. I do not want to be-
labor the point, but the fact is that general aviation in this country,
the business has been taken over by foreign manufacturers; right?

Mr. Hinson. To some degree. Yes, sir.

Senator McCain. The statistics are there. And clearly we have
to address the issue, which Congress unfortunately, and the past
administrations failed to do so.

Finally, on a little bit of a parochial issue, we passed legislation
through the Congress a few years ago, providing for quiet over the
Grand Canyon and Hawaii. I do not know how familiar you are
with that. We have a fairly good success in both areas, both in Ha-
waii and over the Grand Canyon.

I wonder if you had any thoughts on that issue in general, and
whether you think that maybe we should start looking at trying to
preserve the natural quiet over other national parks in America.

Mr. Hinson. Senator, I must be very candid with you and say
I really have not thought about that. I know that this is a particu-
larly sensitive issue in the Grand Canyon, and perhaps other pub-
lic areas as well, particularly Hawaii.

There obviously is tension between the people who want to see
our beautiful outdoors, and those who want to enjoy it from an-
other perspective. I really do not know much about that, but I will
assure you that if confirmed, I will work with you on that.

Senator McCain. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I have additional
questions for the record. For the sake of time, I would like to have
wiose submitted.


The Chairman. Very good. Thank you.

Senator McCain. Thank you, Mr. Hinson.

The Chairman. Senator Pressler.

Senator PRESSLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me begin by
asking some questions. There was an Aviation Safety Commission
report in April 1988. Have you had a chance to read that report?

Mr. Hinson. Senator, I may have, but I do not remember.

Senator Pressler. Well, they made a number of recommenda-
tions about air safety. I do have some questions. In that particular
Commission, one of their discussion points involved the rulemaking
process at the FAA. They say the FAA needs to improve respon-
siveness to safety issues. Three examples illustrate this point.

The first example involves antimisfueling and fuel tank filler
opening adapters. The issue was first raised in 1970 by the Na-
tional Transportation Safety Board as a result of an accident.

Although the issue remains active, in 18 years, the FAA has still
not developed adequate rules to deal with this problem, even
though misfueling accidents continue. Are you aware of that, or
what is your reaction to that?

Mr. Hinson. Well, experientially, of course, I know that there are
occasionally misfuelings of aircraft. I am not specifically aware of
that recommendation or the 18-year issue that you discussed. No,

Senator Pressler. There was an accident about 4 years ago with
a group of businessmen from my State. They stopped somewhere
for fuel. It was raining. And they somehow got the wrong kind of
fuel put in the plane, and they crashed. There were fatalities.

I wonder if we could get a copy of that report, of that crash, to
you today, or if you can get it. We will identify it to your staff. I
would like a response on uiat, because according to this, the NTSB
has been trying since 1970 to get the FAA to act.

Now, what would be the standard? Well, first of all, what can be
done to prevent misfueling? Is there a way that an alarm can go
off in the plane? I do not understand that technology of it.

Mr. Hinson. Well, Senator, I do not like to speak when I do not

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Online LibraryScience United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on CommNomination of David Russell Hinson to be administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration : hearing before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, first session, July 20, 1993 → online text (page 3 of 11)