January 1, 2001
By AOPA Communications staff
Beginning on January 1, AOPA members who use an AOPA Visa or MasterCard at any qualified FBO can request a 5-percent credit rebate for their 2001 eligible FBO purchases. The previous rate was 3 percent.
"The cost of flying is the number-one issue for most pilots," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "AOPA was the first aviation association to put money back in your pocket. Now, we're helping you save even more." Since the program's inception in August 1997, AOPA members have received more than $4 million in rebate credits. The average monthly rebate nearly equals the annual $39 AOPA membership dues.
Any AOPA credit card purchase at more than 4,500 qualifying FBOs is eligible for the rebate, including aircraft rental, flight instruction, maintenance, pilot supplies, and fuel. Qualifying FBOs are those that sell fuel and/or rent aircraft, and are listed in AOPA's Airport Directory or AOPA's Airport Directory Online ( www.aopa.org/members/airports/).
The AOPA 5-percent FBO Rebate Program is intended for the typical GA pilot flying for business or pleasure under FAR Part 91 and is funded by MBNA America Bank and not by AOPA, AOPA member dues, or by FBOs. AOPA members need only to highlight eligible purchases on their monthly statement and submit it by mail or fax to MBNA Bank. The 5-percent rebate appears as a credit on the cardholder's next monthly statement, as well as on electronic statements available through MBNA NetAccess.
Every purchase (not just those at FBOs) returns a royalty to AOPA for programs such as the Airport Support Network—at no additional cost to the cardholder. This helps keep AOPA dues low and GA strong.
"The AOPA 5-percent FBO Rebate Program is a win-win," said Boyer. "It helps support your FBO and it reduces your cost of flying."
When AOPA and MBNA America Bank designed the AOPA FBO Rebate Program, they had in mind members like Doug Fearn, AOPA 986962, of West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Fearn, a manufacturer of custom vacuum tube studio recording equipment, owns a 1979 Piper Dakota and flies it about 150 hours a year. Like most members, he pays for his flying out of his own pocket. He reads AOPA Pilot magazine from cover to cover each month, keeps up to date with AOPA Online, and enjoys legal protection through the AOPA Legal Services plan. When he bought his Dakota last year, he financed it through the AOPA Aircraft Financing Program, with title paperwork handled by AOPA Title and Escrow Service. But by far his favorite member benefit is the AOPA 5-percent FBO Rebate Program.
"It's a great program," he said. "With the cost of fuel higher now, I'm saving over 12 cents on each gallon I buy. It's one of the best ways that AOPA helps me keep flying."
Fearn said he's pleased to help support his home field FBO, New Garden Aviation, just west of Philadelphia. But he also uses his AOPA credit card for other purchases, increasing the royalty returned to AOPA by MBNA America for use in the ongoing fight to preserve his right to fly.
For full details on the AOPA 5-percent FBO Rebate Program, visit the Web site ( www.aopa.org/certified.html).
Some 90 percent of candidates supported by the AOPA Political Action Committee were elected to Congress in November.
AOPA members, through their PAC contributions and participation in the political process, were key to this success. Reelected was Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) as well as representatives (and AOPA members) Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) and Charles Bass (R-N.H.). Election night also saw victories by AOPA members Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.); new member and pilot Darrell Issa (R-Calif.); representatives Chet Edwards (D-Texas), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa); and former pilot Tom Osborne (R-Neb.).
The AOPA Political Action Committee does not use annual dues but rather money that members contribute on a strictly voluntary basis. The PAC supports candidates on a bipartisan basis, backing those who support GA and who have a reasonable chance of winning election.
For more details, visit the Web site ( www.aopa.org/whatsnew/newsitems/2000/00-4-060.html).
The FAA has granted an amended blanket exemption to AOPA members, allowing them to conduct charity sightseeing flights without implementing an expensive drug-testing program.
"Now we have a program that pilots can really use," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. The original exemption contained complicated reporting procedures and required local charity groups (which usually know nothing about flying) to review pilot logbooks and brief pilots on drug-free operations.
The issue erupted last year after the FAA decided that pilots who collect donations for such flights "must assure that all safety-sensitive persons be on an FAA-approved antidrug and alcohol misuse program." To meet that requirement, a pilot would have had to spend more than $200 to establish an "approved" drug-testing program.
Details of the exemption program are available by calling the AOPA Pilot Information Center at 800/USA-AOPA (800/872-2672) or on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/whatsnew/regulatory/charity.html).
AOPA members will be able to download free instrument approach procedures starting this month, one of several enhancements to AOPA's Airport Directory Online.
Charts available include FAA (formerly NOS) instrument approach procedures (IAPs), standard terminal arrival routes (STARs), departure procedures (DPs, formerly called SIDs), and all change notices for the United States. The more than 9,400 NOS charts are linked to AOPA's Airport Directory Online listings and are updated in AOPA's database every 56 days.
"And they can be easier to read, too," pointed out Machteld Smith, director of AOPA's Airport Directory. "You can print these PDF files any size you want, and on much better paper than the government uses."
Other directory improvements include a kneeboard-size print option that allows members to print airport, FBO, and related information on one 8.5-by-11-inch sheet of paper; AOPA's Handbook for Pilots, including sections on aircraft performance and operation, airspace and air traffic control, meteorology and weather services, and emergency procedures and survival; and a comments section, allowing AOPA members to share valuable information about an airport and surrounding services and attractions.
Coming soon will be free download capability to PCs and PDAs using the Palm operating system.
Following requests from AOPA, two major GPS manufacturers have added localizer-DME waypoints to their GPS databases.
AOPA first petitioned for use of GPS in lieu of DME in 1995. In 1998, the FAA gave its approval but excluded DME waypoints on some localizer-type approaches. That's because GPS databases put the airport waypoint at the center of the airport, while DME transmitters are usually co-located with VORs or localizers. Using fix distances from the airport waypoint would give a pilot inaccurate distance information.
The new waypoints are included in Bendix/King models KLN 89B, KLN 90B, KLN 94, and KLN 900, and in Garmin's GPS 155, GPS 155XL, GPS 165, GNC 300, GNC 300XL, GPS 400, GNC 420, GNS 430, and GNS 530. In addition, UPS Aviation Technologies is working on adding LOC-DME waypoints to its Apollo line of receivers.
AOPA was the pioneer advocate of GPS for civilian aviation beginning in the 1980s. Its landmark 1990 report to Congress, "The Future is Now," started a policy debate leading to the adoption of the Department of Defense-originated system for civilian air navigation.
AOPA has learned that the FAA is delaying implementation of the new Grand Canyon Special Flight Rules Area final rule and commercial air tour routes, reportedly to reexamine "safety of flight" issues. The new rules, originally to go into effect on December 1, 2000, would primarily affect commercial air tour operators.
AOPA had successfully objected to parts of the rule that would have imposed greater restrictions on transient GA aircraft crossing the canyon. For more details, visit the Web site ( www.aopa.org/whatsnew/newsitems/2000/00-2-004.html).
VFR waypoints will soon be added to some sectional charts, thanks to an effort initiated by AOPA and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.
At a recent AOPA-hosted meeting, the FAA said it would add VFR waypoints to sectional charts covering the Gulf Coast and Florida's Atlantic Coast. The waypoints will help pilots identify and navigate around Class B and C airspace. The waypoints will also be added to GPS databases to help pilots identify the boundaries of restricted areas and military operations areas (MOAs).
The new Kansas City Terminal Area Chart, slated for release this month, will also include VFR waypoints.
Meanwhile, the FAA is working on AOPA's request to use VFR waypoints to identify the beginning and end of VFR routes through mountain passes.
"We thank the FAA staff and managers who supported this VFR waypoints initiative," said Dennis Roberts, AOPA vice president and executive director of government and technical affairs. "Many times they've reached ‘outside the box' for creative ways to increase safety and help pilots avoid airspace incursions."
A proposal to replace Class D airspace on Nantucket Island, south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with more restrictive, radar-based Class C airspace has drawn AOPA criticism. Proponents believe safety would be improved if all aircraft flying to and from the island were under radar control.
"Class C airspace in this area could inappropriately reduce GA access to the airspace and reduce operating utility for all users. It might also cause new safety problems," said Melissa K. Bailey, AOPA vice president of air traffic services, adding that there is a much simpler solution.
"Cape Tracon already provides radar services around Nantucket," said Bailey, "but most VFR pilots don't use the service because they don't know it exists." AOPA recommended publishing Cape Approach boundaries, altitudes, and radio frequencies on VFR sectional and world aeronautical charts.
AOPA noted that traffic volume cited as justification for more restrictive airspace was only peak summer traffic, not representative of year-round traffic counts. AOPA called the Class C proposal "overly reactionary and unnecessary."
A copy of AOPA's letter to the FAA on the proposed Nantucket Class C airspace is available on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/whatsnew/newsitems/2000/001003nantucket.html).
All pilots who have been AOPA members for 10 years or more will receive special membership lapel pins this year.
"AOPA can stand up for GA because the association is backed by the unwavering support of our members," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "These new pins honor that long-term support."
The new lapel pins will be given to members of 10 and 20 years. Each includes the distinctive AOPA wings with a colored, circular band underneath and the years of membership milestone achieved.
The special member recognition pins for each milestone will be mailed to pilots the month after the anniversary of their AOPA membership.
Public-use airports in the United States are closing at the rate of more than one every two weeks. The AOPA Airport Support Network, launched in 1996, designates one volunteer per airport to watch for threats and encourage favorable public perception of general aviation. For more information on how you can help support your airport, visit AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/asn/).
AOPA Air Support Network volunteer Jeff Gerken has made a point of attending Lancaster (Ohio) Planning Commission meetings, watching for potential threats to the well-being of the Fairfield County Airport. At a recent meeting, he discovered plans for a soccer park and residential subdivision east of the airport, adjacent to the end of the runway.
Such encroachments often start battles between airport users and nonaviation neighbors over perceived noise and safety issues, and sometimes lead to airport closure.
Using information and advice from AOPA headquarters, Gerken collected documentation to help fight the proposal, including letters from the Ohio State Aeronautics Office. AOPA also weighed in with an official letter of opposition.
Whether the development will be built is still in question, but Gerken's work as the AOPA ASN volunteer has so far resulted in developer agreement for an airspace easement over the proposed development, funding for tree removal, and permanent deed and plat notifications warning potential home buyers of the airport's proximity.
When the developer submits complete plans, the Lancaster Planning Commission will issue a recommendation and forward the proposal to the Lancaster City Council for final approval or disapproval.
Colorado. Aurora: A WorldPark motor sports facility proposed for 5,500 acres near Aurora could close the two-runway Aurora Airpark, reports AOPA ASN volunteer Edward Cutler. An Aurora Planning Commission meeting this month will consider rezoning for the project.
Florida. Orlando: AOPA ASN volunteer Robert E. Stroup has been working with members upset by new provisions in hangar leases at Orlando Sanford Airport. Thanks to Stroup's early intervention, AOPA was able to provide comments to airport management on a particularly unfair insurance issue in the new lease.
Indiana. ASN volunteers are still needed for public-use airports serving Auburn, Anderson, Bedford, Bloomington, Kendallville, Crawfordsville, Washington, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Shelbyville, Goshen, Huntington, Madison, Lafayette, Michigan City, Indianapolis, Marion, Kokomo, North Vernon, Richmond, Seymour, and Sullivan. For more information, visit the Web site ( www.aopa.org/asn/).
Minnesota. St. Paul: An August "Aviation Day" at Lake Elmo Airport attracted more than 700 visitors and 70 aircraft, giving local residents a chance to see the value of their local airport. AOPA ASN volunteer Gerald Sarracco, who is also president of the Lake Elmo Airport Association, helped organize the event.
Nevada. Las Vegas: The Clark County Aviation Association has launched an ongoing "Fly a Controller" program to help local ATC officials understand the challenges facing pilots operating in Las Vegas airspace. Among those are proposed changes to the Class B airspace and a new ILS planned for Runway 12 at North Las Vegas Airport. If installed, that approach would channel instrument traffic through the current student practice area. Ann Devers, CCAA secretary, is also the AOPA ASN volunteer for that airport.
New Jersey. Princeton: The Princeton/Rocky Hill Airport hosted a September visit by Capt. R.L. Bialia, deputy director general of India's DGCA, the equivalent of our FAA. The Indian aviation dignitary and his wife were given a local area orientation flight by AOPA ASN volunteer Thomas Hall.
New York. Albany: AOPA ASN volunteer Bernard Schmelz has won a commitment from the Albany County Airport Authority for construction of up to 20 T-hangars and 40 new tiedowns. Construction is expected to start in March. Rapid growth in recent years had threatened loss of about half of the airport's GA tiedown spots.
Pennsylvania. Lock Haven: AOPA ASN volunteer Lee Gilbert reports that newly elected Lock Haven Mayor Richard P. Vilello Jr. is an enthusiastic supporter of the William T. Piper Memorial Airport. Also, a long-sought five-year master plan to improve the airport has been approved by the city council.
Tennessee. Mountain City: AOPA ASN volunteer Denny Moore helped organize the 2000 fly-in Remote Area Medical (RAM) event at Johnson County Airport in October. Volunteer RAM physicians and dentists flew in to treat some 1,087 unemployed or uninsured area residents (see " Aid in Appalachia," March 2000 Pilot). Moore reports that the Roan Valley Aviation hangar and Army tents gave the airport a distinctly MASH-like look during the four-day event, but clearly communicated airport value to area residents.
Virginia. Leesburg: AOPA ASN volunteer Ed Levine and the Leesburg Pilots Association were publicly recognized by the mayor and city councilors in late September for their successful Airport Appreciation Day at the Leesburg Executive Airport.
Wisconsin. Middleton: The local airport support group Friends of Morey Airport (FOMA) has started a weekly "FOMA Facts" column in the local newspaper to help build support for the airport. AOPA ASN volunteer Diane Ballweg is to helping lead the group.
More than 30,000 pilots will receive one of two AOPA Air Safety Foundation safety videos this year, thanks to a $200,000 grant from AOPA. The free VHS video Lost and Crossed is being sent to new private pilots, and Weather Decision-Making will be sent to new instrument pilots.
This is the second year that AOPA has funded distribution of the free safety shows, produced as part of ASF's "Project V" (for video). The effort is designed to reach the tens of thousands of pilots who are unable to attend one of the 200-plus live safety seminars presented by ASF each year throughout the United States.
The two videos resulted from ASF research that identified the main concerns of new private pilots as getting lost and getting "crossed up" in crosswind landings. The same research effort found that newly rated instrument pilots were most concerned about their ability to find and interpret weather information on the ground and to avoid hazardous weather conditions in flight.
Lost and Crossed is a 35-minute dramatic video of a new pilot who loses his way on a cross-country trip. It reviews basic VFR navigation and orientation procedures and suggests ways to avoid the eventual forced landing. It also offers real-world tips for handling crosswind and gusty landings. Pilots who have seen the tape and practiced to proficiency report increased confidence in their aircraft handling and navigation skills.
Weather Decision-Making, for selected new IFR pilots, follows a flight from Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., to Bradford in northwestern Pennsylvania. The 55-minute video discusses preflight weather information gathering and interpretation, then takes the viewer inside the cockpit and into the world of ATC and flight service as they interact with the flight. Viewers learn what controllers can and cannot do to help pilots avoid hazardous weather.
The independent, nonprofit Air Safety Foundation celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last year. ASF research, publications, and seminars have helped reduce GA accidents by almost 75 percent since its inception.
A corporate giving campaign called "Air Safety Foundation Partnering with Corporate America" was launched during AOPA Expo in October, and honored the USAIG Corporation as its first Platinum Corporate Sponsor.
Levels of corporate sponsorship range from the Sponsor Tier ($2,000) to the Platinum Tier ($50,000).
"GA benefits many in the corporate world through timesaving direct-to-destination travel and efficient use of corporate employee time," noted Robert Milanchus, ASF vice president of foundation development. "Safety is everyone's business, and this new program will recognize those companies that support ASF in its safety outreach programs to all pilots."
ASF provides live continuing pilot education through free seminars to more than 25,000 pilots annually. New Seminar-in-a-Box programs and video outreach initiatives to new private and instrument-rated pilots boost the annual total to more than 100,000. Also, one-quarter of the nation's CFIs requiring certificate revalidation choose ASF's courses.
ASF is a nonprofit organization. Less than 10 percent of its operating budget comes from AOPA members' $1 voluntary contribution paid with their $39 annual dues.
More information can be obtained from Milanchus at 301/695-2078 or via e-mail ( [email protected]).
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