May 1, 1995
Representative Jim Lightfoot (R-IA) has introduced a bill to return the FAA to independent agency status and make its personnel structure, funding, and procurement procedures more flexible and responsive to the needs of aviation and the public interest.
AOPA Legislative Action strongly supports the bill (H.R.1392), which in its essentials is similar to AOPA Legislative Action's own five- point FAA reform plan, proposed last December.
Lightfoot's Federal Aviation Administration Reform Act of 1995 would set a seven-year term for the FAA administrator and would exempt the agency from federal Civil Service rules except for employee benefit provisions.
The act would set up a trial program of procurement reform exempting the FAA from certain laws governing federal acquisitions. It would provide for a select panel to report to Congress on innovative financing to ensure adequate funding for infrastructure. And it would create a management advisory board within the FAA to counsel the administrator on policy, spending, management, and regulatory matters. The act would mandate final FAA action on rulemaking proposals within 18 months of initiation, as AOPA has long urged.
"Representative Lightfoot is to be warmly congratulated on his bold and thoughtful approach to the question of FAA reform," said AOPA Legislative Action President Phil Boyer. "His bill is a balanced and forward-looking alternative to the ill-conceived proposals for a privatized or corporatized ATC system."
Lightfoot is a longtime pilot and flight instructor. He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on transportation and during his first six years in Congress served on the House aviation subcommittee.
H.R.1392, which has received a positive initial reaction from the aviation community, has been referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
AOPA Legislative Action has asked members of the House of Representatives to co-sponsor H.R.963, a bill that would allow the Federal Communications Commission to exempt noncommercial aircraft and marine radios from the current FCC registration and fee requirements.
Similar provisions were included in the FCC reauthorization bill passed by the House in the 103rd Congress, but the Senate did not act on the bill by the end of the session.
H.R.963 was introduced by representatives Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Jack Fields (R-TX) in February.
In the Texas legislature, AOPA Legislative Action is supporting two bills that may help make flight training in the state more affordable by eliminating inequitable taxation of aircraft used in flight instruction.
"Texas law currently exempts the larger FAR Part 141 flight schools from use and sales taxes but unfairly imposes those taxes on the smaller schools operating under FAR Part 61," said Cindy Jackson, speaking for AOPA Legislative Action.
After much hard work by Texas aviation interests and state Senator Frank Madla, House Speaker James E. (Pete) Laney, and Representative Ciro Rodriguez, the Texas comptroller has granted temporary tax relief to those smaller schools.
Texas S.B.833 and H.B.1807 would change the law to make clear that all aircraft used for flight instruction are exempt from sales and use taxes. "Passage of these bills would ensure a friendly business environment so that all flight schools in Texas can continue to operate," said Jackson. "General aviation's economic impact in Texas is close to $2.8 billion a year. Thriving flight schools are an important link in that economic chain."
AOPA Legislative Action told the House appropriations transportation subcommittee March 21 that the FAA is not aggressively pursuing key programs important to general aviation as well as other airspace users.
Steven J. Brown said the FAA is already falling behind in implementing GPS, calling the program "nowhere near" the goal of commissioning 500 new stand-alone GPS approaches by the end of 1995. AOPA Legislative Action also asked Congress for sufficient FAA resources to procure the WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) to broadcast GPS differential correction signals from satellites.
Concerned by U.S. Coast Guard calls for early retirement of loran, AOPA asked Congress to direct the Coast Guard and the FAA to continue loran operations until 2015, as provided for in the 1992 Federal Radio Navigation Plan.
Legislative Action also voiced concern over the slow pace of commissioning ASOS (Automated Surface Observation Systems). While some 500 ASOS units have been installed, only a few have been commissioned.
Brown noted that FAA has finally requested funds for the Direct User Access Terminal System (DUATS). He termed DUATS one of the most cost- effective methods for providing weather information to pilots.
AOPA Legislative Action praised current FAA research into alternative fuels for general aviation, saying that government research had encouraged oil companies' own efforts to develop unleaded high-octane aviation fuel.
Brown also urged appropriation of at least $1.5 billion from the user-financed aviation trust fund for the Airport Improvement Program.
Thirty members of the 104th Congress have joined in bipartisan support of an FAA policy change long sought by AOPA Legislative Action and the American Diabetes Association. The change would allow review of airman medical applicants with insulin-treated diabetes on a case-by-case basis. Up until now, the FAA's policy has been to deny medical certification of all such pilots.
An FAA-appointed medical review panel, however, has developed guidelines for individual evaluation of people with insulin-treated diabetes. The proposed guidelines are stringent, designed to ensure safety during aircraft operations.
Letters urging FAA Administrator David R. Hinson to adopt the panel's guidelines have been sent by Senators Larry E. Craig (R-ID), Strom Thurmond (R-SC), Lauch Faircloth (R-NC), John H. Chaffee (R-RI), James M. Inhofe (R-OK), Rod Grams (R-MN), John Kyl (R-AZ), Kit Bond (R-MO), and Robert F. Bennett (R-UT) and Representatives Mel Hancock (R-MO), Jim Lightfoot (R-IA), Jerry F. Costello (D-IL), Fred Upton (R-MI), Thomas J. Manton (D-NY), Steven Gunderson (R-WI), Ronald V. Dellums (D-CA), Bob Stump (R-AZ), James A. Traficant (D-OH), Elizabeth Furse (D-OR), Bob Clement (D-TN), Harold E. Ford (D-TN), Barney Frank (D-MA), Karen McCarthy (D-MO), William Lipinski (D-IL), Jan Meyers (R-KS), Tom Sawyer (D-OH), Jimmy Hayes (D-LA), James A. Barcia (D-MI), Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R- CA), Bill Emerson (R-MO), Bill Archer (R-TX), Collin C. Peterson (D-MN), Lane Evans (D-IL), James M. Talent (R-MO), David Minge (D-MN), Spencer T. Bachus (R-AL), Constance Morella (R-MD), Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), and Vern Ehlers (R-MI).
Colorado Governor Roy Romer has signed into law an amendment to exempt flight schools and independent CFIs from the state's educational institution registration fee of $2,000, renewal fee of $750, and $5,000 bond. The original law was enacted to protect students from fly-by-night schools that collect advance tuition and fail to deliver instruction.
Pointing out that most small flight schools and independent flight instructors do not collect advance tuition, AOPA Legislative Action successfully made the case that the fees and bonding requirements would force all but the biggest flight schools out of business.
The amendment was sponsored by Colorado Representative Lew Entz and Senator Gigi Dennis and supported by AOPA Legislative Action, the Colorado Pilots Association, and the Colorado Airport Operators Association.
AOPA President Phil Boyer has written FAA Administrator David R. Hinson to personally reiterate AOPA's opposition to the FAA's proposed sweeping revision of FAR Part 67 airman medical standards.
"Since fewer than one half of one percent of all aviation accidents are related even remotely to predictable medical factors, we cannot accept that there is adequate justification for such sweeping regulatory activity," Boyer told Hinson. "It is our contention that the existing medical standards are working," said Boyer. "The incidence of in- flight medical incapacitation is so low as to fall into the category of random chance."
In its official comments to the FAA rules docket on February 21, AOPA called for the complete withdrawal of the proposal.
Boyer cited current efforts in Congress to reduce the level of burdensome federal regulation. "We find it incomprehensible that FAA could issue a set of regulations that fly in the face of this public sentiment."
The FAA is greatly exceeding the authority granted by the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 to determine whether a pilot is "physically able" to perform the duties of a pilot, Boyer added.
The FAA has received more than 5,000 comments on its proposed changes in pilot medical certification standards. Judging by several hundred of the comments copied to AOPA, reaction to the NPRM among the nation's pilots was overwhelmingly negative. AOPA's own official 27-page response to the rules docket presented an exhaustive analysis of the NPRM's flaws and urged that the entire proposal be withdrawn.
New research by AOPA illustrated for the 1995 FAA General Aviation Forecast Conference that "business as usual" will result in a continually declining pilot population. Steven J. Brown, AOPA's senior vice president for government and technical affairs, released early data from AOPA's new pilot population forecast model that is being developed to track and predict pilot population trends.
AOPA found that most student pilots do not drop out because they dislike flying. Some 62 percent drop out for money reasons, while 28 percent cite lack of time. More than three out of four dropouts, however, say they will definitely or probably get back into flying someday. Only age and health considerations are significant factors among those who say they will not return to flying.
AOPA announced new, definitive data on dropout rates — a first because it required tracking thousands of individual pilots throughout a seven-year period. The research predicted that from one year to the next:
AOPA President Phil Boyer told the Women in Aviation Conference in St. Louis March 18 that aviation must attract more women to flying to help reverse the decline in the pilot population.
"Women now represent six percent of active pilots," said Boyer. "Sociological studies suggest when the number of women in any field reaches critical mass at 20 percent, the field begins to change."
"Today more women have time and discretionary income," said Boyer. "If we can get more women involved in general aviation with the same focus and energy as women's entry into the business world, we'll see that 20 percent number achieved."
Dramatizing the need for change, Boyer cited AOPA's new pilot population forecast model that predicts a "worst case" scenario of 100,000 fewer pilots five years from now. The model's "best case" scenario predicts a gain of 44,000 pilots, but only "if everything works" and student starts recover to their highest historical levels. The trend line, unfortunately, points towards continuing decline.
The AOPA pilot population model is derived from seven years of pilot data back to 1988, a period during which the pilot population declined in all age groups except those 45 to 54 and over 60 years of age.
Boyer said the industry must do a better job of attracting and encouraging interested, qualified people to flight training, and should make a special effort with women. He pointed to AOPA Project Pilot as a successful example of what can be done. While women constitute only 1.9 percent of the student pilot population, 13 percent of AOPA Project Pilot participants are women.
"The greatest untapped opportunity we have in this male-dominated business is to get men in aviation to help women know our world," said Boyer.
The Women in Aviation Conference was founded by Dr. Peggy Baty of Parks College in 1990 to educate the public about women's contribution to aviation and to provide role models for young women interested in aviation careers.
AOPA President Phil Boyer has written a personal appeal to FAA Administrator David R. Hinson, asking that FAA reaffirm its continuing support for funding of the loran navigation system.
"Some navigation analysts within government have proposed early termination of loran that would cost aviation users a majority of their recent investment," said Boyer. "We believe this would only increase reliance on VOR and NDB navigation at a time when everyone should be focusing on an eventual transition to a GPS/loran-based system for general aviation."
The loran system is under the control and budget of the U.S. Coast Guard. Budgeted at $17 million a year, loran is a relatively low-cost system to operate and maintain. In contrast, the nation's 1,039 VOR/vortacs and 1,336 NDBs cost hundreds of millions of dollars annually. About 120,000 loran units are in aviation use, representing just 12 percent of all loran receivers. Some 1.3 million are operated in the United States alone.
Boyer pointed out that most loran manufacturers are now building loran/GPS combination avionics, creating for general aviation the same multi-source navigation capability that expensive GPS/INS inertial navigation systems offer the airlines.
AOPA asked that FAA reaffirm its support for continued funding of loran as reflected in the 1992 Federal Radio Navigation Plan. Boyer also asked Hinson's personal support to ensure that the yet-to-be-issued 1994 Federal Radio Navigation Plan contains the same commitment.
With a Washington premiere March 29 attended by aviation leaders, AOPA launched a new video, called Flying Friendly, to help pilots mend fences with airport neighbors. The 20-minute video presentation, subtitled "Aircraft Noise: How Pilots Can Help Airports and Communities Learn to Live Together," will be available free of charge to airport managers, flight departments, and local pilot groups nationwide.
Even though aircraft noise reaching surrounding neighborhoods is typically comparable to the ambient noise in a busy office, AOPA's Flying Friendly asks pilots to help cut noise by thoughtful flying techniques. Recommendations center on power and propeller rpm reductions as soon as safe and practical, since the propeller is the prime noise generator. Rather than insisting that "the airport was here first," AOPA recommends formation of airport support groups to approach community interests with a positive message.
In a recent informal survey of AOPA members, 37 percent reported a noise problem at their community airport. Nine out of 10 said they would be willing to change operating procedures to mitigate the noise impact on their community.
"It's time for pilots to become pro-active on noise," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "We must fight for better zoning around airports. But instead of complaining about it, we should be sure we're doing all we can to limit the noise."
Some 614 public-use airports have closed since 1981, 52 in 1994 alone.
The International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) held its World Assembly in Japan in April for the first time in its 33- year history. The event was held in Tokyo, hosted by AOPA-Japan President Kozo Takita and Secretary-General Toshimitsu Onodera.
During this 17th World Assembly, delegates heard from the deputy governor of Tokyo and a director of the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau.
Observations on development of global satellite navigation were offered by Japan Radio Company, Ltd., and David Watrous, president of RTCA, Inc. (the former Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics) of Washington, D.C.
Delegates from AOPA-Switzerland dramatized the World Assembly's focus on international flight by traveling to Tokyo by Piper Cheyenne via Moscow, Beijing, and Shanghai. Swiss delegates Bruno Keppeler and Hans Bronniman and their entourage planned the stop in Beijing to exchange views with Chinese officials on issues concerning international general aviation operations transiting China.
IAOPA is the international organization representing the pilots and aircraft owners of 37 national AOPAs on international issues. IAOPA participates in standards development and safety matters at ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal, and with national aviation authorities around the globe.
When IAOPA was founded in 1962, Japan (according to news accounts of the time) boasted only one private aircraft owner and pilot: David Hickler, regional director of Japan's Civil Air Transport agency. AOPA- Japan was accepted for IAOPA membership in 1981. By 1990, there were 14,753 civilian pilots in Japan. That pilot population has reportedly doubled in the five years since.
The IAOPA 17th World Assembly convened in Tokyo with a call to Asian governments for enhanced support of general aviation in Asia.
"I believe that our actions at this World Assembly can improve the prospects for general aviation as we approach the twenty-first century," said IAOPA President Phil Boyer. "We will learn here firsthand that Japan is well positioned to accelerate the development of general aviation in the Pacific region. AOPA-Japan's contacts with general aviation interests in Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong, and China could assist expansion of general aviation in the region."
Boyer lauded the recent work of AOPA-Japan with an award to its president, Kozo Takita, for efforts to boost general aviation activity in Asia and AOPA membership in Japan. AOPA-Japan has boosted its membership by some 60 percent during the last two years. Takita accepted the award with credit to previous AOPA-Japan presidents Hisao Hatanaka and Hisato Sasaki.
He noted AOPA-Japan would use this first-ever IAOPA World Assembly in Japan to urge improvements "in the administration of Japanese civil aviation, which up to now has been giving undue advantage to airlines, so as to improve the status of general aviation and develop a well-balanced aviation industry."
The FAA has refused to allow Stevens Point, Wisconsin, to close the city's airport for one week in August for what local promoters billed as the "world's largest fireworks display."
AOPA, local pilots, and one determined alderman had opposed the plan to shut down the airport every night from August 6 to 12 for the convention of the Pyrotechnics Guild International.
Stevens Point Alderman Nancy Basch alerted AOPA of the plan to close the airport. AOPA Vice President for Regional Affairs Bill Dunn responded with a letter to Mayor Gil Helverson saying the fireworks would create an "unacceptable" danger to aircraft and the airport. Dunn also cited the clear potential that burning material could fall on aircraft or above-ground fuel storage tanks.
The airport closure would have inconvenienced a large number of pilots in central Wisconsin. There are more than 30,000 aircraft operations a year from Stevens Point Municipal Airport, including military flights. The closure would have meant no fuel or service for 48 based aircraft and numerous itinerant aircraft for one week.
The FAA reminded the city it had accepted seven grants for airport projects, agreeing not to permit any activity that would interfere with airport use. FAA airports engineer Nancy N. Kopischke wrote the city, "The FAA cannot allow temporary closure of the airport for a fireworks display."
AOPA has asked the FAA to withdraw its notice of proposed rulemaking for modification of the Los Angeles Basin Class B airspace. The NPRM would expand — by at least 600 square miles — Class B airspace, in which all aircraft must be positively controlled. The proposal would extend Class B airspace substantially to the south, crowding Class C and Class B areas around Orange County and San Diego.
AOPA supported the critical comments of California airspace user groups on points such as:
Of greatest concern was the NPRM's omission of three existing VFR corridors (LAX, Shoreline, and Hollywood Park) through Class B airspace. Local groups called the omission of well-established VFR corridors a "major flaw" and "unacceptable to the general aviation community."
Local pilots, complaining that the FAA had not provided clear representation of its proposal in relation to current charting, also said one checkpoint — defined only by lat-long coordinates and named "West Los Angeles College" — was actually a point at sea 17 miles south of Santa Catalina Island.
Backing local airspace groups, AOPA asked the FAA to withdraw the NPRM and use the Southern California Airspace Users Working Group's forthcoming "Terminal and Regional Airspace" proposal as the basis for a new NPRM on Los Angeles Class B airspace.
Former AOPA Western Regional Representative Jack Kemmerly will now work exclusively on California issues as AOPA focuses new resources on the nation's most populous state. Arizona, Nevada, and Utah will also receive enhanced attention from their own AOPA regional representative.
"Many significant issues confronting general aviation come up first in California, so it is important to all our members that we increase our emphasis there," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. As an example, he cited AOPA's reversal of the EPA proposal to directly regulate general aviation in California.
Kemmerly, formerly handling the four-state area from Sacramento, became AOPA's California representative effective March 31. The former director of the California Division of Aeronautics, Kemmerly has been AOPA's regional representative in the West since April 1994.
North-central New Jersey's Bedminster Township violated the state's Air Safety and Zoning Act when it passed a rezoning ordinance effectively blocking improvement of privately owned, public-use Somerset Airport, AOPA's Bill Dunn has told Bedminster Mayor Joseph Metelski. Dunn pointed out that the airport seeks improvement, not expansion, and that the state law prohibits municipal actions that would prevent routine improvement of aeronautical facilities. Somerset plans new tiedowns and replacement taxiways. The National Weather Service plans to install an automated surface weather system on the airport.
Lake Placid Airport in upstate New York will finally get a wider, repaved runway with pilot-activated lighting, thanks to persistent efforts of local airport supporters and AOPA. Adirondack Park Agency approval of the airport master plan's first phase was achieved by a coalition led by attorney James Brooks and including FBO operators Steve and Cindy Short, local pilots represented by Jack Vitvitsky, the Adirondack Review Board, the New York State Aviation Division, and AOPA. The upgrade includes a VASI and a lighted windsock.
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation has teamed with AIG Aviation in support of safety presentations at this year's Northern Alaska Aviation Exposition, scheduled for May 6 and 7 in Fairbanks. An Alaska Safety Education package to be distributed to the expected 3,000 attendees will include a special ASF analysis of Alaskan aviation accidents for 1993 and 1994, based on ASF's aviation accident database.
ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg will present accident scenarios specific to Alaskan flying and introduce a new pamphlet designed to make Alaskan flying safer. ASF will also provide 100 videotapes on subjects including icing and use of ASOS/AWOS systems, for use by Alaskan aviation safety counselors. The ASF materials are provided under a grant from AIG Aviation.
If you have recently experienced wake turbulence, NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System would like to hear from you. At the request of the FAA, ASRS will be conducting detailed telephone interviews with pilots who report wake turbulence incidents to ASRS. Reporter participation is voluntary, and all identifying information (names, company affiliation, etc.) will be removed before ASRS research data are given to the FAA.
The FAA plans to use the information to develop models to accurately predict wake vortex phenomena and help evaluate turbulence separation criteria for aircraft.
Pilots are requested to report wake turbulence incidents using the NASA/ASRS form available from flight service stations. An ASRS analyst will call to schedule a telephone interview at a convenient time. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation strongly supports this research effort.
The fifth annual AOPA Fly-in will be held at AOPA headquarters at Frederick (Maryland) Municipal Airport on Saturday, June 17. Breakfast will be available from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., and exhibits will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
More than 3,000 pilots, their friends, and families are expected for the annual event, which includes safety seminars and displays of antique and unusual aircraft.
"The AOPA Fly-in is the one day of the year that AOPA headquarters is open on a weekend so that pilots can meet the AOPA staff one-on-one and see what AOPA offers general aviation today," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.
A control tower will be in operation for the fly-in to cope with the expected deluge of air traffic for the event. Special fly-in procedures will be available later this month through AOPA's Pilot Information Center (800/USA- AOPA, 872-2672).
This year's AOPA Fly-in will be held in conjunction with Airport Appreciation Day for the Frederick Municipal Airport, part of the city's 250th birthday celebration.
For the first time in 30 years, the AOPA Expo will be held in the northeastern United States — in Atlantic City, New Jersey, October 19 through 21. An action-packed three days awaits anyone interested in aviation. More than 300 exhibitors will be showing their products and services in a hands-on, "try it out" exhibit hall. Product demonstrations will be conducted every half hour. Aircraft will be displayed at nearby Bader Field, with continuous roundtrip ground transportation provided. These activities will be complemented by dozens of seminars held right at the convention center. Tours of the nearby FAA Technical Center will also be available. One-day, two-day, three-day, and on-site registration packages are available. Call for further information: 800/942-4269.
... that Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin legislatures are working on measures to govern labeling of motor fuels? AOPA Legislative Action is making sure the legislators understand the importance of requiring that any fuel that contains any form of alcohol (ethanol, methanol, etc.) is so labeled, to avoid inadvertent use in aircraft.
... that AOPA Legislative Action is strongly supporting state bills in Arizona and Washington that would encourage adoption and enforcement of zoning regulations near airports, ensuring compatible land use? This is part of AOPA Legislative Action's ongoing campaign for compatible land use planning laws in all 50 states.
... that the Indiana Senate Transportation Committee has passed an AOPA Legislative Action-supported bill to allow privately owned public-use airports to qualify for grants and loans from the state's airport development loan fund? Congratulating the committee on its action, AOPA Legislative Action urged swift Senate passage of the measure.
... that AOPA Legislative Action is supporting an Indiana Senate bill to require that real estate disclosure forms include information about the noise impact of nearby airports, thus avoiding controversy that often arises when homebuyers are not told they are locating near an airport?
... that as a prominent supporter of state legislation giving Alaska municipalities needed flexibility in taxing personal property, AOPA Legislative Action is now pressing Kenai Peninsula authorities — among others — to exercise its new freedom and lighten the tax burden on GA aircraft? Citing the economic loss to the community if Kenai pilots relocate elsewhere, AOPA Legislative Action has urged Kenai Borough leaders to take early action on significant tax reform.
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AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.