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Congressional Action Could Create New Demand for Geospatial Data

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2011
Two pieces of legislation working their way through Congress could create new demand for geospatial data that may result in more business opportunities for MAPPS member firms.  Provisions adding guy-wires and freestanding towers as features shown in FAA aeronautical charting data and adding x,y, and z coordinates to structures on FEMA flood insurance rate maps have received initial approval in the U.S. House of Representatives.

FAA Authorization

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) had noticed that in recent years, low-flying aviators have faced an increased threat of uncharted, man-made obstructions that are difficult to see and avoid. There have been a number of pilot fatalities caused by collisions with unlit and unmarked guy-wire and freestanding towers. The most recent fatality occurred on January 10 when an agricultural aircraft collided with a guy-wire tower in Oakley, California.

Aviators who routinely operate aircraft at low altitudes face the threat of colliding with these structures, some of which have a diameter of only six to eight inches and are secured with guy-wires that connect at multiple heights and anchor to the ground. Affected pilots include Emergency Medical Services, firefighters, agricultural crop dusters, fish and wildlife service aircraft, mosquito control and many others.

Rep. Neugebauer offered an amendment to H.R. 658, the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act, to direct the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct a feasibility study on the development of an internet-based public resource that would list the exact height, longitude, and latitude of potential low-altitude aviation obstructions. The provision of this data would enable the public and pilots who fly at low levels to know where these structures are located. The data would allow aviators to obtain the information necessary to avoid these structures in their flight plans.

MAPPS supported the amendment.   When FAA conducts the study, we will have a seat at the table.  H.R. 658 subsequently passed the House.  A companion bill, S. 223, has passed the U.S. Senate, without the tower and guy-wire provision.  A House-Senate Conference Committee will soon meet to reconcile differences between the two chambers’ bills.

FEMA Flood Insurance Reform

The House Financial Services Committee has begun work on H.R. 1309, the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011, introduced by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), chair of the Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity.  The Subcommittee reported the bill to the full committee on April 6 with a provision approved as an amendment offered by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) to study the collection display of the vertical positioning of structures on FEMA flood insurance maps. The bill re-establishes a Technical Mapping Advisory Committee (TMAC), of which there would be members from the private mapping community.  The Stivers Amendment asks the TMAC to do an analysis of collecting vertical positioning data.

To view the webcast of the subcommittee mark-up, go to, where the Stivers amendment can be found at 5:45 to 10:25.

This was the result of Ken Scruggs' (Midwest Aerial Photography, Galloway, OH) visit with Congressman Stivers during the Federal Programs Conference.

This is evidence that grass roots, individual citizen/MAPPS member contact with your elected representative WORKS!
Good work, Ken and JB (and everyone else who helped).

Tags:  Advocacy  Congress  FAA  FIRM Act 

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