AOPA Action

August 1, 1999

Representatives Reject User Fees, Boost Airport Spending

On June 15 the U.S. House of Representatives passed AIR-21, a landmark aviation bill that would unlock the Airport and Airway Trust Fund and permit all aviation taxes to be spent promptly on aviation needs. The vote was 316 to 110.

"AIR-21 restores faith with the aviation taxpayer," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "By unlocking the aviation trust fund, we can finally put our aviation taxes to good use. We can provide desperately needed funds for airports and ATC modernization, and we can put a stop, once and for all, to the administration's push for user fees."

AOPA has been working for more than a decade to unlock the surplus in the aviation trust fund and rallied its members to contact their representatives. Boyer personally visited members of Congress to urge their support.

But Boyer also cautioned that the battle is far from over. There is opposition in the U.S. Senate to unlocking the trust fund. Moreover, President Clinton has threatened to veto AIR-21 if it passes the Senate in its present form.

The proposed funding would benefit a number of programs important to GA pilots, including:

  • Wide-Area Augmentation System (WAAS), which will provide capability for precision instrument approaches to almost every public-use airport in the United States.
  • Loran operation until WAAS is fully proven as a standalone means of navigation.
  • OASIS, a program to upgrade FSS computers. AOPA had urged the subcommittee to investigate OASIS problems.
  • Airport land-use compliance, requiring cities and other airport sponsors to comply with FAA grant assurances.
  • Safe Flight 21, a refocused version of the FAA's Flight 2000 initiative, which is designed to test new communications, navigation, and surveillance systems for ATC modernization.

Differences between the House and Senate FAA funding bills will be resolved later this year in conference committee.

Long-Awaited FBO at Atlantic City's Bader Field Pulls Out

The new fixed base operator at embattled Bader Field has shut its doors just two months after Atlantic City, New Jersey, officials contracted for long-absent FBO services on the field. Bader fixed base operator Bob Nordheim blamed city officials for reneging on terms of the contract. The FBO was operating in a house trailer adjacent to what's left of Bader's aircraft parking ramp, even as a modern terminal building remains a depot for city police cars.

Atlantic City was cited by the General Accounting Office in May for ignoring FAA grant assurances to maintain and protect airport assets improved under the user-financed Airport Improvement Program. Among other actions, the city constructed a minor league baseball stadium on airport land without required FAA approval, severely reducing aircraft parking (see photo).

This October, Bader Field will house the AOPA Expo aircraft static display near the new Atlantic City Convention Center, site of AOPA Expo '99. No services and very little parking will be available for transient aircraft. Host airport Atlantic City International (ACY) will offer extensive aircraft parking, full services, and convenient AOPA-contracted shuttle bus service direct to the convention center, just 12 miles away.

FAA 'Impotent' in Protecting GA Airports, AOPA'S Boyer Tells Congress

FAA's compliance system, which is supposed to protect GA airports from mismanagement, fraud, waste, and abuse, is "woefully impotent," AOPA President Phil Boyer told the House aviation subcommittee on June 9.

"If our remaining GA airports are to thrive and continue to serve the public, it is essential that we protect our federal investment in them," Boyer said. "Unfortunately, the agency charged with that task, the FAA, has fallen short of its responsibility."

The General Accounting Office in May released a study exposing a string of inappropriate and sometimes illegal uses of airport land. Many of these abuses were first identified by AOPA.

Among the airports singled out was Chicago's lakefront Meigs Field. "While the FAA was giving Meigs away on a silver platter, it continued to tell the aviation community that it was powerless to stop it," Boyer testified. "The most irksome part of this is that the FAA assisted the city in trying to close this airport. The FAA should be in the business of preserving and protecting airports."

Boyer endorsed the GAO's recommendations to improve FAA airport compliance oversight, which included a possible formal relationship with AOPA's Airport Support Network.

A copy of Boyer's statement is available electronically on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/whatsnew/newsitems/1999/990609testimony.html).

FAA Decides Against Immediate AD on Turbocharged Twin Cessna Exhausts

Following quick, intense action by AOPA and the Cessna Pilots Association, the FAA has decided not to issue an immediately adopted rule establishing a costly exhaust system airworthiness directive (AD) on some 9,400 turbocharged twin Cessna models T310 to 421C (except 337).

Instead, the agency will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) allowing for a 30-day comment period before the AD becomes effective.

"This AD will likely be extraordinarily expensive," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The FAA needs to hear from owners and operators before it determines the final form of the AD."

In a June 24 letter to FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, AOPA protested the lack of opportunity for user input, pointing out that the latest proposed AD has been under consideration within the FAA for three years, and that the FAA is required to seek public comments before issuing a final rule unless there is an immediate threat to public safety.

The public will have until August 9 to comment on NPRM 97-CE-67-AD. AOPA's letter to Administrator Garvey is available on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/whatsnew/newsitems/1999/990625letter.html).

FAA Withdraws Champion Wing Spar NPRM, Issues New Proposal

The FAA has withdrawn a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would have required numerous new inspection holes to be cut in the wings of Aeronca/Bellanca/Champion 7-, 8-, and 11-series airplanes with wood wing spars.

In its place, the FAA has proposed adopting recommendations from the Citabria Owners Group to allow for wing spar inspections using a high-intensity flexible light and a series of mirrors. AOPA supports the recommendations.

"This is a great example of how the FAA, AOPA, and aircraft type clubs can, and should, work together to find the best solution to an airworthiness concern," said Dennis Roberts, AOPA vice president of government and technical affairs. "Type clubs have a tremendous expertise that the FAA should draw on."

The FAA's new proposed AD (NPRM 98-CE-121-AD) would supersede the existing AD on Scout models and establish a repetitive wing spar inspection requirement on 7-, 8-, and 11-series airplanes with wood wing spars.

AOPA Warns Members: 'Condition Notice' Wording Omits Less-Costly Alternative

AOPA is warning members that an FAA-issued condition notice reporting an apparently faulty transponder or altitude encoder doesn't necessarily require an expensive bench check, despite wording in the notice.

The FAA notice, usually mailed after an ATC report of an apparently incorrect Mode C readout, asks owners to have an FAA-certificated repair station "make appropriate tests, adjustments, and/or repairs."

"But FAA directives allow simply checking transponder accuracy with a different ATC facility," said Gary Crump of AOPA's Aviation Services Department. "If that recheck is good, the transponder is considered to be in compliance."

Crump said that a report of the test — whether by a repair station or with another FAA facility — should be filed with the FAA FSDO that issued the condition notice.

FAA Offers Exemption From Drug Testing for Charity Flights

Pilots giving local sightseeing rides at charity events will be able to apply for expedited exemptions to required drug testing programs, the FAA announced in June.

On March 30, AOPA had protested a new FAA policy that interprets FAR 61.14 and FAR 135.1(a)(5) as requiring an FAA-approved drug testing program for pilots giving charitable sightseeing rides. Setting up such a program would cost the average pilot more than $200.

According to FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, processing time for an individual pilot's exemption should be no more than two weeks. Detailed information is available to AOPA members through AOPA's toll-free Pilot Information Center (800/USA-AOPA 872-2672).

AOPA continues to pursue FAA rulemaking to resolve the issue permanently, freeing aircraft rides at charity events from drug testing regulations meant for commercial operations.

Seminars to Highligh AOPA Expo '99

More than 70 seminars, including a presentation by John and Martha King on "How To Avoid Unwanted Adventure," will highlight AOPA Expo '99 October 21 through 23 at the new convention center in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Presentations scheduled include:

  • "Hear It From The Medical Experts" and "How to Save Your Life in an Aircraft Accident," by noted New Jersey orthopedic surgeon Ian Fries, and "Hypertension and the White Coat Syndrome," and "The Diabetic AirmanæDiet, Pills, or Insulin," by AOPA Medical Advisory Panel member and aviation medical examiner Stacy Vereen.
  • "Reducing Cockpit Stress Between the Sexes," "The Art of Defensive Flying," and "Mayday! Mayday! My Teeth Just Fell Out!" by aviation educator, AOPA Pilot columnist, and humorist Rod Machado.
  • "Hows and Whys of Freezing Rain" and "Weather Forecasting Tips" with AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Thomas A. Horne.

Early registration is suggested. The entire seminar schedule, plus full information on exhibits, display aircraft, and registration, is available on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/expo/) or by calling 888/GO2-EXPO (462-3976).

AOPA Asks for Reconsideration of Cincinnati Class B

The FAA should reconsider its design for Class B airspace around the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), AOPA said.

"By designating more airspace than is needed…the…FAA is…unnecessarily restricting public access to navigable airspace," wrote AOPA Counsel Kathleen A. Yodice in a formal petition to the agency. "The placement of the airspace is contrary to the public interest in that it unnecessarily burdens pilots attempting to navigate its boundaries."

The new Class B replaces Class C airspace around Cincinnati, extending up to 8,000 feet msl and out as far as 25 nautical miles. But technical information obtained by AOPA suggests that the Class B configuration is not justified by existing CVG traffic patterns and traffic counts.

AOPA asked the FAA to reconfigure the Cincinnati Class B airspace so that its outer ring extends to only 20 nm and the airspace is centered on the Cincinnati VOR for easier identification of airspace boundaries.

Action in the States

Alabama. Huntsville: AOPA ASN volunteer Charles Cozelos is using the AOPA Airport Support Network videotapes as part of a program for pilots at the Moontown Airport. Also, Alabama "target airports" still needing ASN volunteers include: Moton Field Municipal (O6A), Tuskegee; St. Elmo Airport (2R5), St. Elmo; Jack Edwards Airport (AL15), Gulf Shores; Craig Field Airport (SEM), Selma; and Ft. Deposit-Lowndes County Airport (67A). Montgomery: H.B.263, which would have increased state funding for GA airports, successfully passed the Alabama House but failed in the Senate because of opposition from large airports. The AOPA-backed Aviation Council of Alabama was largely responsible for House passage of the measure.

Colorado. Denver: AOPA ASN volunteer Walt Bell is coordinating meetings between pilots at Jeffco Airport and the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners. Pilots have complained of harsh new rules limiting GA utility of the airport. Granby: AOPA research proving viability of a circle-to-land GPS instrument approach at the Granby/Grand County Airport has allowed construction of needed hangars to resume. County commissioners had believed that the hangars would preclude development of GPS approaches to the airport. Montrose : AOPA ASN volunteer Roger Lake, Montrose Regional Airport, is incorporating the AOPA "Local Airports: Access to America" video in presentations for local service clubs.

Connecticut. Hartford: An open house and Safety Expo at Hartford Brainard Airport in May brought out a large crowd. AOPA was an exhibitor at the event to promote GA.

Florida. Fort Lauderdale: AOPA ASN volunteer Bill Bahlke is working with residents of Whispering Woods on aircraft noise complaints. The gated community is about 15 miles northwest of Pompano Beach and underlies routes to training areas for busy flight schools at Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, and Boca Raton airports. Lantana: ASN volunteer Steve Marlowe reports that FAA inspectors are warning pilots at the Lantana Airport that failure to observe erroneously painted runway markings on Runway 3 could lead to violations. AOPA is working with airport management to change the markings. Marco Island: AOPA is asking pilots who use the Marco Island Airport to write to Collier County Airport Authority Director of Aviation John Drury, 2003 Mainsail Drive, Naples, Florida 34114, pointing out the safety benefits of a proposed taxiway at the single-strip airport. Construction of the taxiway is on hold because of pressure from environmental groups. St. Lucie: ASN volunteer Dick Sinnot is working to form an airport support group for the St. Lucie County Airport. The county's hesitancy to make improvements at the airport is jeopardizing Florida and FAA grants. Stuart: ASN volunteer Bud Wilcox is helping to build support for the Witham Field Airport. An antiairport group called Witham Field Airport Watch Committee is attempting to limit operations there.

Illinois. Rantoul: Planned passenger rides for charity at the Rantoul Balloon Fest in August were canceled after the volunteers learned that an approved drug testing program would be required for each pilot. On March 30, AOPA asked FAA Administrator Jane Garvey to rescind the ruling that requires drug testing for such flights. Chicago: AOPA ASN volunteer Rob Weinberg is monitoring noise complaints from neighborhoods near Schaumberg Regional Airport.

Louisiana. Baton Rouge: AOPA is opposing H.B.533, introduced by Rep. Glenn Ansardi of Kenner, that is intended to restrict noise at New Orleans International Airport. As written, the bill could restrict operations at every airport in the state.

Massachusetts. Bedford: About 500 copies of the AOPA video Flying Friendly will be distributed by Massport to pilots, renters, clubs, businesses, and others using Hanscom Field Airport. Meanwhile, the Hanscom Field Noise Committee has failed to turn in a final report. Reportedly, the committee is bogged down over arguments on how to measure airport noise.

Minnesota. Minneapolis: AOPA ASN volunteers Dan Carroll of Flying Cloud Airport and Gary Specketer of Anoka County Airport are helping pilot groups at several Minneapolis-area airports to form a coalition for a greater voice in affairs of the Metropolitan Airport Commission.

Nevada. Las Vegas: At AOPA's request, a published VFR route for east arrivals and departures from North Las Vegas Air Terminal has been designed. Testing of the new route will begin as soon as repair work on the Las Vegas vortac is completed.

New Jersey: Belmar/Farmingdale: AOPA ASN volunteer Paulo Santos reports that the $36 million price tag for purchase of the Allaire Airport has slowed efforts by Wall Township to purchase the privately owned field. Santos is working to demonstrate the value of the airport to the community. Morristown: Aircraft owners at Morristown Airport may receive refunds on property taxes assessed by Hanover Township on rental tiedown spaces. AOPA had protested the tax to both Morristown Airport management and the FAA.

New York. Albany: The New York Department of Transportation is cosponsoring aviation safety seminars, to be presented throughout the state by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Farmingdale: AOPA ASN volunteer Pete McWilliams is working with Republic Airport management to involve more pilots and businesses in noise abatement efforts at the airport.

Oregon. Independence: AOPA ASN volunteer Andy Andersen, Independence State Airport, formed an airport support group that successfully thwarted a housing subdivision near the airport. He is now heading the state's advisory group for the airport. Baker City: AOPA ASN volunteer Jon Croghan rallied local pilots to defeat a proposal to close a Baker City Municipal runway for drag racing. He is now forming an airport support group.

Texas. Galveston: AOPA ASN volunteer George Gould reports that FAA approval of a "reverse bungee" amusement ride tower near Scholes Field apparently did not take into account the fact that people would be catapulted above the tower.

Washington. Snohomish: AOPA ASN volunteer Glenn Torgerson reports that a proposed rezoning of Harvey Field Airport would severely limit operations at the privately owned public-use airport. AOPA is opposing the rezoning.

Requests for Accident/Incident Data Show Buyer Awareness, AOPA Says

Purchasers of used aircraft are getting smarter, according to statistics from the AOPA Title and Escrow Service. A record 186 aircraft accident/incident data reports were ordered in May, up 61 percent from the same month in 1998.

"Buyers are becoming more aware that logbooks don't always reflect damage history," said Romar Langford, operations manager at the AOPA Title and Escrow Service. "They are learning how to protect themselves."

An "AOPA Aircraft Accident/Incident Data Report" includes the date, location, and type of any reported accident or incident in the nearly 300,000-record FAA database, as well as pertinent records in the NTSB database. The extent of any reported damage is also shown. Reports are $55 for AOPA members ($65 for nonmembers), and next-day service is available.

For more information, call 800/654-4700 (outside theUnited States, 301/695-2000). Information is also available on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/info/certified/tne/).

AOPA Online to Help Relieve CFI Shortage

Beginning August 1, an entirely new free employment classified section in AOPA Online called "In Search Of" (ISO) will help flight instructors and flight schools find each other. The new service is available on the Web ( www.aopa.org/classifieds/).

"This country's CFI shortage is getting critical," declared AOPA National CFI Representative Rod Machado. "This new AOPA 'ISO' classified ad service is a perfect way to help match CFIs with flight schools. It's another way AOPA can help beginning pilots realize their dreams."

Access to and listing in the new ISO category will be available to all CFIs and flight schools. Other AOPA Online classified sections — formerly limited to AOPA members only — will now be readable by all pilots, although only AOPA members may post ads.

AOPA Online classified ads have been receiving an average of 33,000 visits per month.

1999 Water Flying Annual Offers Directories, Safety Comparisons

The Seaplane Pilots Association has just released the largest-ever edition of Water Flying Annual, its flagship publication. The cover features a dramatic Mike Fizer photo of a Cessna 208 Caravan turboprop on floats.

"It's our once-a-year seaplane extravaganza," declared SPA Executive Director Mike Volk, "a 72-page full-color publication with something for every seaplane pilot and enthusiast."

New this year is a directory of seaplane rental locations in the United States and Canada. Also included are completely updated directories of seaplane flight schools and experienced seaplane flight instructors, plus a table comparing the safety of seaplane flying with other routine activities.

The 1999 Water Flying Annual is mailed free to SPA members. Nonmembers may purchase copies by sending a $10 check or money order, plus $3 for postage and handling, to: Water Flying, Seaplane Pilots Association, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701.