Senators enter debate on FAA rule change for Pearson Field

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Five U.S. senators are backing an effort to at least postpone a proposed federal rule that local pilots say would squeeze operations at Vancouver's Pearson Field.

Staffers representing Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, plus West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, met with Federal Aviation Administration officials this week, said Barbara Ayers, communications manager for the city of Vancouver. (Rockefeller chairs the Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation).

The FAA has proposed new restrictions that would force small planes out of Pearson airspace to make way for larger airliners approaching Runway 10 at Portland International Airport. FAA officials have said the change — set to take effect Monday — aims to keep multiple aircraft out of the same airspace at the same time. But local pilots say the idea will create unnecessary delays and pose its own safety hazards.

The city of Vancouver and PDX officials have called for a delay of the seemingly fast-tracked rule change, asking for a better explanation and more study. That's the position the five senators are also supporting, Ayers said.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, also sent a letter to the FAA expressing concern over the proposed restriction.