FAA Denies Giving Special Treatment to First Lady

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - The Federal Aviation Administration is denying recent reports that it has instituted a policy ordering that any official federal aircraft carrying First Lady Hillary Clinton is to be treated in the same manner as if it were Air Force One with the President on board.

Several reports have appeared in the media claiming the First Lady's airplane was receiving preferential treatment during her campaign appearances in New York.

The FAA recently sent to all east coast airport facilities a directive reminding them that all presidential airplanes besides Air Force One to are to be treated as VIP's but receive no special treatment.

Jim Peters, a spokesman for the FAA in New York told CNSNews.com, "The plane on which Mrs. Clinton would be a passenger is handled in the same way that any other aircraft would be handled going into any airport."

Paul Turk, a spokesman for the FAA in Washington said the memo was "reminding controllers of the existing [FAA] policy. It does not represent a new policy or a change in policy because there was going to be increased activity, somebody in the Eastern region wanted to remind [air traffic] controllers that she [Mrs. Clinton] was going to be up and around a bit."

Turk told CNSNews.com that the FAA has not changed its policy to accommodate the increased New York flights of Mrs. Clinton in her Senate campaign race in that state.

"There has been no change in the rules. An airplane carrying the First Lady is classified as Executive Foxtrot One. It is still considered a VIP aircraft, but it is treated under different rules than Air Force One," said Turk.

"There's a set of rules that deal with Air Force One, there is also a set of rules that deal with Air Force Two when the Vice President's aboard and the EF-1 classification is yet another classification with its own set of rules that would apply to a visiting head of state or another dignitary or UN dignitary, somebody like that, it's in that classification," Turk told CNSNews.com.

Hillary Rodham Clinton's New York house is near Westchester airport in White Plains, New York and Turk said her plane either lands there or at La Guardia in New York City.

According to Turk Mrs. Clinton's plane is placed into the take-off and landing queue in the same manner as other planes. "I can't go into specific rules for security reasons. But, in essence, her airplane or anybody else carrying Executive One Foxtrot designation is really not treated substantially different in terms of being in the queue for landing or takeoff."

"She doesn't get the same treatment he [the President] does. When he comes up, they've got snipers on the roof, they've got all the Secret Service, and they've got the state police and local police. When Mrs. Clinton comes in, it's not fancy at all," Steve Ferguson, a spokesman with the Westchester County Airport told CNSNews.com.

Ferguson said the only difference for Mrs. Clinton is her plane is routed to a private hanger and "they'll bring the car our. But it's pretty low key."

According to Turk, Mrs. Clinton's political campaign pays for her use of the plane in her Senate race. "If the First Lady is on official White House business, than it's a government expense. If a campaign matter and this is very carefully watched and adjudicated, than it's the responsibility of the campaign," Turk said.