policy and advocacy
Issue Brief - Federal Aviation Administration and Musical Instrument Regulations
Transporting Musical Instruments and Cultural Objects by Air
Making the Case to Congress
Heightened security measures at U.S. airports have impacted the ability of musicians to carry their instruments in-cabin, and for museums to transport objects. Following passage of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001, the FAA is designing new rules for how items may be transported in-cabin and in the cargo hold.
Transporting Musical Instruments
Musicians must rely on commercial airlines for transportation to performances and rehearsals, and often must carry their instruments in the cabin to protect them from severe climatic changes and damage during turbulence. In 2001, the music community mobilized to protect the transportation of musical instruments in-cabin as Congress considered the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. The Act ultimately included language expressing the will of the United States House of Representatives that the new Under Secretary of Transportation for Aviation Security develop regulations that "allow passengers transporting a musical instrument on a flight of an air carrier to transport the instrument in the passenger cabin of the aircraftâ€¦" Though this language does not give musicians the specific right to carry any musical instrument onboard, it does encourage the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop a solution through the federal rulemaking process.
Transporting Cultural Objects
Nearly every piece of art loaned to another museum for exhibition purposes travels with a museum escort, usually on commercial airlines. Sometimes small, fragile works of art travel as carry-on baggage, while larger works travel as cargo. Works transported as carry-on baggage must be able to pass security without breaching the safety and security of the work of art. Works traveling as cargo must be accompanied at every step by the escort who oversees loading the work onto the plane and then boards the plane for take off. Because works of art represent an irreplaceable public asset, it is vital that they not be left to the vicissitudes of cargo ground crews and that escorts be allowed to continue to have access to the airport tarmac.
We request that members of Congress communicate with the Under Secretary of Transportation for Security, John Magaw, to ensure that the arts community will have a prominent role during rule-making. Oppose any proposals that would eliminate the transportation of musical instruments and cultural objects in-cabin or in the cargo hold or limit access of escorts accompanying works of art.
- The arts community supports efforts to improve the safety of airline personnel and travelling passengers.
- As new FAA regulations are developed, we must preserve opportunities for cultural commerce.
- Airline policy regarding the transportation of instruments and cultural objects has been inconsistent and unpredictable, at times resulting in damage to irreplaceable instruments and objects, or preventing musicians and curators from reaching their destinations.
- The arts community is eager to work with Congress and the FAA to recommend a security plan that will protect the security of airline personnel and passengers, while protecting the ability of musicians and cultural objects to travel.