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Now, that was another questionnaire. This information came to the select committee only upon the select committee's assurance that the information would not be made public. The reasons for that are obvious. I mean, the insurance companies do not want to open up to the world the manner in which they do business and show to their competitors the manner in which they do business. Likewise, the air lines do not want to advise the world, and thus their competitors, what their coverage is on certain types of accidents, and so on, and so forth.
So, this information comes into our hands in rather a confidential manner; but it is information that is vital and necessary for a comprehensive study of the insurance problem before a new insurance bill should be written and, Mr. Chairman, my committee would like to turn over to your subcommittee, or whoever it is that is finally going to write this bill, in its final form, this information, this data, which has been gathered by the Civil Aeronautics Board for the purpose of writing a comprehensive amendment to existing insurance laws as applied to air carriers. And, we would like, Mr. Chairman, to give that to them. I will give them the questionnaires and the answers; give them our file on it, with the understanding that they are to be used by them for the purpose of the preparation of a bill, but not to be released at any time to the public or go into the hands of the public.
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. Chairman
Mr. KENNEDY. You are not suggesting, are you, that this is confidential information, these statistics that you are talking about?
Mr. NICHOLS. I only say that we had to assure these companies that we would treat them as such before they would give them to us.
Mr. KENNEDY. In our State, our insurance department gets out every month, in detailed form, the cases, claims, and amount of the claims, and the origin, and everything else. I mean, that is public property. There is nothing confidential about it so far as I know.
Mr. NICHOLS. Now, that is probably true, Mr. Kennedy, with respect to insurance companies, because of their very public nature; but that certainly is not true even in the State of New York, if my information is correct, insofar as air carriers are concerned.
Mr. KENNEDY. I am talking about claims paid by insurance companies.
Mr. Nichols. Yes. I suppose that is so. Mr. KENNEDY. And that involve any claim arising under the laws. Mr. NICHOLS. I am talking as much as anything, too, about rates. So, I think, incidentally, the gentleman from New York, is very familiar with the insurance set-up, and I suspect that he can be of tremendous help, because, Mr. Chairman, this is important, one of the important matters that must be considered and settled by the Congress, this question of insurance for air carriers, and it is in this bill. I am frank to say that I am not enough of an expert to say whether or not the five-and-ten-thousand-dollar limitation as carried in this bill is right or wrong. I do not know. But, I believe we do have in the files of our committee data which will be valuable, I am sure, to the subcommittee who will finally write this bill.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Nichols, I take it from the information you have and what we have collected from time to time-in fact, we had a question about taking this up in 1938, but we concluded to leave it alone to see what experience would develop.
Mr. NICHOLS. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. I take it the situation seemed to justify inquiry as to whether or not the provisions in these proposals are proper for the benefit of the carriers and the beneficiaries, or perhaps the Board should further look into that subject and also as to the reasonableness of rates, and those are elementary things, I think.
Would you have a view that those things should be cared for?
The CHAIRMAN. Í presume you have already reached that conclusion; have you not?
Mr. NICHOLS. Oh, certainly.
The CHAIRMAN. It might be dealt with beyond that, but those are fundamentals that are involved.
Mr. NICHOLS. Absolutely. I certainly agree that they should be taken care of.
Well, Mr. McCann has just called my attentionI do not know that it is of particular interest to the committee—that the Board engaged in accumulating this data with insurance specialists from New York, for this job, and he not only helped gather it, but sat there as an employee of the Board and finally tabulated it in the form that we hand it to you. It is a very comprehensive study of this thing, and I am sure that it will be of help to the subcommittee or whoever finally is going to go into the final writing of the bill.
Now, Mr. Chairman, another important subject dealt with in this bill is the question of zoning; zoning of airports. It is a very important matter. In the first place, it has been argued by some that it renches very close to the border line of unconstitutionality now.
If finally the Federal Government is, by law, to assume jurisdiction over all of the navigable airspace—and I hope that happens—it is one of the provisions in this bill-you have done nothing in that respect unless that assumption of power is broad enough that you can zone around airports.
Since I think it will be admitted by all that it is going to be a ticklish matter to write a zoning law and keep it within the Constitution, I do not think that that portion of this bill should be hastily passed over. And, Mr. Chairman, I would like to have the opportunity to sit down with those who will put this bill in final form, discuss it with them, and give them the benefit of whatever information we have gathered throughout the years on this subject so that they can use that information in finally writing this all-important portion of this bill relating to zoning
Mr. HOLMES. Mr. Chairman-
Mr. HOLMES. You are referring now to airports that the Federal Government is building itself, not what municipalities and States have built ?
Mr. NICHOLS. I am referring to all airports. There cannot be anything accomplished by any of this legislation if it is not broad enough to write finally into the law a provision to the effect that some agency of the Government can say to municipality X, who builded and who operates that airport, "You will have to fix your local laws so that this obstruction off of the airport which is a menace to approaches on this
airport must be taken down, moved, or no more constructed there, or we, under authority given to us by the Federal law will do the job ourselves,” no matter who the airport belongs to.
Mr. HOLMES. Does not the Board have that power now, under the language of the present law?
Mr. NICHOLS. No; no; the Board does not even have a close approach to that power now. The only means at hand now is that the Administrator, if a city refused to do things that the Administrator or the Board wanted them to do, the only thing he can do now to enforce it is to stop air service to that city.
Mr. HOLMES. I mean that they have the power to stop air service to that city.
Mr. NICHOLS. Yes.
Mr. NICHOLS. For instance, take St. Louis. At the airport at St. Louis they built in the right-hand corner of the airport, CurtissWright, built on the airport a factory. We investigated an accident there which both the Board and ourselves, in our report, said was caused by reason of the close proximity of a runway to those buildings. Now, the Administrator did not want that factory on that airport. Nobody who was charged with the safety of the operation of aircraft wanted that factory on that airport, but there was not a thing in the world the Federal Government or any of its agencies could do about it.
Now, you might say you might have exercised the right of the Administrator, and said to St. Louis, “All right. If you do not take that thing off there, we are not going to give you any more air service in St. Louis." Well, the Administrator cannot do that. St. Louis is a big town and an important town, and it is entitled to and needs air service.
Mr. HOLMES. In the course of the consideration of this subject there are two phases, one where you build an airport, where there are already obstructions existing surrounding the airport and another where airports have to be built out in wide-open areas.
Now, of course, if you ask these people to remove their plants, naturally you would not expect that the people who had their plants there, or other activities, or buildings, or railroad tracks, with lines of poles located alongside of airports if they are to be forced to remove those obstructions, you would naturally say that they were entitled to compensation for the damages.
Mr. NICHOLS. Oh, certainly. I do not think you could do it any other way.
Mr. HOLMES. Is there not another feasible way of laying out new airports, where you could utilize the existing condemnation laws and take any amount of land outside of your airport proper and then restrict that area to certain heights or resell to anybody who wants to buy before any obstructions are built in a new location?
Mr. NICHOLS. Well, I will say, Mr. Holmes, this bill has provision in it for the very things that you and I both are talking about.
Mr. HOLMES. That is right. So far as that is concerned that is no new subject to us.
Mr. NICHOLS. I beg your pardon.
Mr. NICHOLS. I am confident that it is a matter that this committee has given great attention to. I am sure of that. My only point is that, and I have only read these provisions casually; I mean, I read them last night; but I know that it is so close to the border line of constitutionality, which is my point, that I only ask that the members of my committee be permitted to give whoever is finally going to get this bill in final form the benefit of the information that we have on the subject in hopes that we may be able to help them get a better bill.
Mr. HOLMES. You cover that to some extent in your report to the Congress, do you not?
Mr. NICHOLS. On zoning?
Mr. NICHOLS. Yes; only in a general way. We recommend that it be done. It is very important that it be done. My only point is, Mr. Chairman, that I hope that I and the other members of my committee may be able to contribute something to your committee, if you will permit us to sit down with you on that subject when that subject of the bill is finally written. That is my only purpose in bringing it up.
The CHAIRMAN. I take it that in connection with the question of zoning and especially the legal problem as to existing structures, disposing of existing structures, is very simple and that the real problem is what you are going to do to prevent future structures off of an airport; whether or not there is going to be a restriction of the right to use navigable airspace below those heights that are ordinarily used for commercial and other purposes; or would we attempt to create the right to navigate those lower spaces, without compensation to persons whose property is affected by aircraft in such a way as to be economically injurious.
Mr. NICHOLS. I hesitate to disagree with the chairman, but as I see it, the reverse is true. It seems to me that it is going to be very much easier to write a law which will prevent in the future construction of obstructions.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, that is the point I was trying to make; to take care of the future situation. That is the difficulty.
Now, are we going to attempt to deprive a man of the right to construct his normal structure without compensation or will we attempt to acquire that right by condemnation in advance ?
Mr. NICHOLS. Well, it is a very knotty problem. That is my point, exactly. Provisions are made for that in this bill.
Now, I am just wondering if sufficient thought and research on the subject has been made. If not, if you do not feel that it has, we have some very definite ideas on it that we would like to give the committee the benefit of.
It is my personal opinion that it is going to be much easier to do the future thing than it is to tear down the obstructions already there.
The CHAIRMAN. I said as a legal proposition. Mr. NICHOLS. Of course, using the law of condemnation. First probably we are going to have to test it and I mean this thing is going to have to be talked about some time, so we might just as well talk about it now.
First probably there is going to have to be a test made as to whether or not the Federal Government can assume jurisdiction over all of the navigable airspace and if it can, what is navigable airspace. Where does it start? Is it on the ground or do you start navigating the air 10 feet above the ground, or 50 feet, or 500 feet, or 1,000 feet? I mean, that is going to be the first real legal test on this thing. But, I do not see much that we can do about that except to write the law as best we can and let it stand the test of the courts.
But, the other thing following it presents very many more knotty problems.
The CHAIRMAN. That is true, and I was wondering if you had reached any conclusion as to whether or not the right to prevent future structures should be acquired by condemnation proceedings giving compensation to the owner for the value of the property taken or whether we were going to deprive the owner of the right to build those structures without compensation.
Mr. NICHOLS. Well, frankly, it has been my idea to date that the law should be written to deprive him of the right of building the structures without compensation. That has been my own idea on it.
Mr. HARLESS. Mr. Chairman-
Mr. HARLESS. How high in the air would you suggest that you deprive this man-I mean,
what limitations would you place upon it? Mr. NICHOLS. Of course, in the definition that was placed in this bill at the time the select committee in conjunction with the Civil Aeronautics Board and others were writing this legislation, we attempted to write a definition of the navigable air space that would put it right down on the ground. I do not know whether we succeeded or not, but that is what we tried to do.
Mr. HARLESS. Well, you would be depriving a man of his property without due process of law.
Mr. LICHOLS. I hope that the gentlemen won't think that I am having any mental gymnastics that would lead me to the opinion that that can be done, because I know that it cannot. I do not hope ever to take a man's
property without due process of law, of course. Mr. BOREN. Mr. Chairman The CHAIRMAN. Are you through, Mr. Harless?
Mr. HARLESS. No; but let Mr. Boren go ahead, and then I will ask one other question.
Mr. BOREN. I just wanted to pursue the thought you had in mind. If we went as far as your proposal contemplates, Mr. Nichols, it would have such remote possibilities as regulating against fencing, or a cow lying in the grass, even. I mean that would be so. I am not trying to carry this to the point of ridiculousness, but that illustrates what could happen if you go to those extreme limits.
Mr. NICHOLS. I do not have any idea of going to extreme limits. As a matter of fact, I think this bill provides, your bill—and, as I say, I read it only last night—but I think it provides 150 feet, does it not?
Mr. BOREN. That is a point I m coming to. If you do come to those limits—that is my question--where, geographically, would you recommend, how far would you recommend, that such geographical area extend, under any such restrictions?
Mr. NICHOLS. Well, of course, therein lies the knotty problem. It is not so much the obstructions as it is the land around the airport. I do not know how far you are going to be able to go in laying out, the boundaries within which no obstruction of a certain height can