AOPA Action

What AOPA is doing to keep you flying

August 1, 2009

Congress congratulates AOPA on turning 70

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a resolution congratulating AOPA on reaching its seventieth anniversary, and commending the association for seven decades of work on behalf of America’s general aviation pilots and aircraft owners.

The resolution notes AOPA’s longtime commitment to safety through the creation of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, its important role in passage of the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994, which reestablished the U.S. general aviation industry as a world leader, and its early support for civilian use of GPS, which will be the backbone of the Next Generation Air Traffic Control System.

“We are honored to be recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives,” said AOPA President and CEO Craig L. Fuller. “Over the past seven decades, we might not always have agreed with Congress, but we have always found members willing to hear us out when speaking on behalf of our members.”

The sponsor of the resolution, Rep. Charles Dent (R-Pa.), is the ranking member of the Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection subcommittee of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and sits on the Aviation subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. These are two of the committees and subcommittees that matter most when it comes to general aviation issues.

“Throughout its rich history, AOPA has developed and maintained close working relationships with federal government agencies, including the Department of Transportation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Transportation Security Administration,” said Dent. “By working closely with these agencies, AOPA has helped our nation create the safest and most efficient aviation system in the world.

“Over the last 70 years,” he continued, “AOPA has also fostered a dynamic relationship with Congress and, specifically, the members of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, on which I serve, and remains a key actor in the development of our nation’s aviation policy, having played a vital role in the crafting and passage of this year’s FAA Reauthorization Act.”

“If AOPA has been successful over the past 70 years, it is because of our members,” concluded Fuller. “But also because of the strong working relationship we have forged with Congress over the years. We will need both as we look forward to the next 70 years of advocating on behalf of GA.”

NATIONAL

AOPA and EAA will work to protect, grow GA

Two of the nation’s largest aviation associations, AOPA and EAA, will be collaborating on issues and programs that protect, support, and grow general aviation as the result of a recent working session at the EAA Aviation Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

EAA Chairman and President Tom Poberezny and AOPA President and CEO Craig Fuller, along with senior staff from each organization, met to discuss how they can work more closely to support GA. They agreed to a collaborative, three-pronged commitment to protect GA interests, promote GA safety, and grow the GA community in the United States.

“This is a logical collaboration that makes sense for the greater good of general aviation,” Fuller said. “Each of our associations has been an effective advocate for GA. But now I look forward to EAA and AOPA working more closely together at all levels to protect and grow general aviation, and to keep it safe.”

AOPA and EAA leaders identified a significant number of near-term opportunities for collaboration. In addition, the organizations agreed to jointly host a GA roundtable in early 2010 that would include a wide spectrum of the GA community.

“What evolved during the meeting was the mutual respect for the strengths of each organization, which will be used in ways that are mutually beneficial, and address aviation growth and preservation,” Poberezny said. “The majority of our nation’s pilots belong to one or both of these organizations, so our members expect us to utilize these strengths in a way that addresses the long-term vitality of general aviation.”

Additional information regarding future collaborative efforts will be announced as details are finalized.

House passes TSA authorization, tells agency to consult GA

The House of Representatives has passed the proposed Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act (H.R.2200). AOPA supported the bill, which sends a strong message to the TSA to increase GA industry participation in security initiatives.

H.R.2200, the first comprehensive roadmap for the TSA to pass the House since the creation of the agency in 2001, authorizes TSA programs and funding levels for the next two years. It includes provisions to create a GA security working group to ensure that the agency consults stakeholders before imposing security initiatives and to establish a grant program for $10 million in security improvements at GA airports. An amendment to the bill revises the standard for when the TSA can use emergency procedures to issue regulations or security devices.

During the discussion of the bill, members of Congress acknowledged the contributions of GA to the nation’s economy and said that the TSA should collaborate with the industry. “Members from both sides of the aisle have expressed serious concern about TSA’s approach when it comes to general aviation,” said Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.). “Until recently, TSA displayed a lack of understanding of the uniqueness of the general aviation environment. H.R.2200 takes some major steps forward, with the authorization of a strong General Aviation Working Group and the establishment of a new grant program for security improvements to general aviation airports.”

A chorus of voices spoke on behalf of GA during the discussion of the bill, including other members of the newly formed caucus. An amendment to the bill reinforces that security directives—such as the controversial SD-8F, later clarified in SD-8G—should only be used to respond to emergencies and immediate threats, not as an alternative to the normal regulatory process. Amendment sponsor Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), along with cosponsors Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.) and Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), all spoke in favor of the amendment. GA Caucus co-chair Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) worked the House floor to ensure the amendment’s success.

REGIONAL

Threat to Tennessee airports removed

A measure that would have jeopardized Tennessee airports by providing for their summary closure was thwarted when the state legislature reached an agreement on a transformed bill.

In order to deal with an issue regarding the Sumner County Airport Authority, lawmakers from the county had introduced a bill in the Tennessee state legislature to allow municipalities and counties in the state to dissolve their airport authorities—without a hearing or public process. The bill contained language that also would have allowed governing bodies to close airports with a two-thirds vote.

AOPA Southeast Regional Representative Bob Minter said the legislation would have facilitated the dissolution of an airport authority and the possible closure of an airport.

The legislation has since been amended to eliminate the damaging airport closure language and to establish a more sound and deliberative process for the dissolution of an airport authority.

Funds for rural airports in Oregon

AOPA is supporting a bill in the Oregon House that would use lottery bond funds to pay for transportation projects that include upgrading rural airports.

“We are glad your administration has recognized the value of Oregon’s airports system and are willing to make it a priority for state funding,”AOPA President Craig Fuller wrote in a letter of support to Oregon Gov. Theodore Kulongoski.

Oregon H.B.2001 would allow the state treasurer to issue up to $100 million in lottery bonds to fund the state’s “multimodal transportation fund,” and rural airports would get about 5 percent of the total.

Keep flying, AOPA tells Idaho pilots

In the face of threats to general aviation such as onerous security regulations and proposals that could drive up the cost of flying, what’s a pilot to do?

Keep flying, AOPA Executive Vice President of Government Affairs Andy Cebula told a group of Idaho pilots recently.

In a panel discussion at the Rocky Mountain West Aviation Expo in Boise, Idaho, Cebula told pilots the best way to secure the future of GA is to continue to exercise the special freedom to take to the skies, whether for business or recreation.

Cebula discussed the challenges facing GA today and in the future. He toured backcountry airstrips and witnessed the rugged terrain that gives pilots in the state a special perspective on the value and joy of flying.

“Visiting backcountry airstrips in Idaho demonstrated the use of GA to access areas not available by any other means,” Cebula said. “Pilots made it clear to me they don’t want misguided proposals in Washington to keep them from exercising their freedom to fly.”

MEMBERSHIP

Pre-register for AOPA Aviation Summit and save

Registration is open for the AOPA Aviation Summit, November 5 through 7 in Tampa, and some exciting changes have been made to add more value to your experience—reduced package rates, exclusive preregistration discounts, and a free reception on the exhibit hall floor. Special family discounts and family-friendly social events make Summit the ideal destination for aviation enthusiasts of all ages.

AOPA Aviation Summit offers all the great experiences you’ve come to expect at an AOPA event and more, including an expanded aircraft display with everything from seaplanes, LSAs, and jets to helicopters and balloons. Vintage aircraft will be on display in honor of AOPA’s seventieth anniversary. In the exhibit hall you’ll see a multitude of product demonstrations and presentations—and visit more than 500 exhibits.

Come to meet and exchange ideas with influential figures in aviation business and policy, and experience new fun aviation-themed events and local Tampa attractions.

Register today for advance savings.

AOPA MEMBERSHIP PRODUCTS

AOPA members join Legal Services Plan in record numbers

More than 100,000 AOPA members are flying with newfound confidence. Wondering how you can join them? It’s easier than you might think. Make a mental list of your most crucial concerns when it comes to being a pilot. More than likely, fear of finding yourself on the wrong side of an FAA inspector ranks pretty high. With thousands of FAA enforcement actions issued annually, it’s a rational concern. You know a violation not only could hit your wallet hard; it could end up costing you your certificate. No matter how experienced a pilot you are, the risk is still there. Violations can result from a simple miscommunication or misunderstanding, just read our actual case studies from your fellow AOPA members online (www.aopa.org/info/certified/lsp/case-studies).

AOPA has always tried to anticipate the needs of its members. Even in 1983 when the climate for general aviation was much different, AOPA realized that no pilot should have to face the FAA alone. As a result the AOPA Legal Services Plan was developed. Originally only covering enforcement actions, this critical benefit has changed with the times, and has been expanded to include everything from airspace incursions to medical certification issues and much more. Participants can choose from more than 700 panel attorneys who specialize in aviation. The current record number of participants is a testament to just how vital the protection of the Legal Services Plan really is.

For less than 10 cents a day, you can enroll in the Legal Services Plan and fly with confidence because you know you’re covered. Should the next FAA enforcement action be yours, you’ll have the protection and advice of the Legal Services Plan on your side. For more information call 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672) or visit the Web site.

Members trust the AOPA Insurance Agency 

When Nina Ortega of Sebastopol, California, purchased her first airplane, she was concerned about being able to get insurance coverage.

“But AOPA made the process easy and they were willing to insure a beginner pilot,” said Ortega about the AOPA Insurance Agency, which has worked hard to build a service organization that exceeds any other in the general aviation community.

Ortega has called upon her agent for a number of insurance-related reasons, including the addition of approved pilots to her policy, to change ownership, and to provide certificates of insurance. “My agent has been very flexible and responsive to changing needs, and she is always there to answer my questions,” she said.

The AOPA Insurance Agency is also the best in providing aircraft insurance expertise. Members get the right coverage at the right price, and the AOPA Insurance Agency only works with A-rated aviation insurance underwriters so that it can offer the most coverage options to fit members’ unique needs for the aircraft an individual owns or rents.

“My agent has looked after my interests very well. I feel that I am dealing with an intelligent human being who has my best interests at heart. It is a good feeling,” said Francis O’Neill of South Carolina. He raises show horses in Virginia so his airplane is used a great deal to follow the show circuit up and down the East Coast.

“Although I have not yet filed a claim, I expect that if I ever do, it will be handled politely and properly,” said O’Neill.

To learn more or to get a free quote, visit the Web site or call 800-622-AOPA (2672).

AOPA AIR SAFETY FOUNDATION 

New Runway Safety PSA

The AOPA Air Safety Foundation will go the extra step to get your attention when it comes to safety. Modeled after popular radio and television public service announcements, ASF has produced its own PSAs—several amusing Pilot Safety Announcements, short videos aimed at raising awareness of common general aviation accident causes. Don’t let the humorous approach to potentially catastrophic situations fool you: While you may chuckle at the contents’ wit, the serious nature of these accidents waiting to happen cannot be brushed aside lightly. Joining “Real Aviation Heroes,” “School Daze,” “Would You Fly This Airline?” and “Hybrid Power” is ASF’s latest Pilot Safety Announcement: “Avoid That Rundown Feeling.”

Watch what leads a pilot astray on the ground. Maybe you recall yourself or a friend once being in a similar situation? No matter how safety savvy we think we are, danger in the form of complacency or distractions can lurk when least expected.

Help spread the word and share the PSA link with others. After taking in the short skits, check out the list of resources below each video for tips on avoiding these accidents.

The Runway Safety PSA was funded by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Did you know? 

One general aviation runway incursion occurs every month. And of the 1,009 total runway incursions reported by the FAA in fiscal year 2008, 16 that involved only GA aircraft were categorized serious.

One excellent way to reduce runway incursions and improve surface navigation is to consult an airport taxi diagram. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation, in conjunction with the FAA Runway Safety Program Office, provides airport taxi diagrams for the busiest U.S. towered airports. You can download the free diagrams online. Airport taxi diagrams are updated every 28 days, so check before each flight to be sure you have the most current image. Can’t find a diagram for a nontowered airport? Check AOPA’s Airport Directory Online for small downloadable runway sketches accompanying airports with published instrument approaches.

Spotlight on sweltering summer flying

Summer can be great for flying, whether in search of the elusive $100 hamburger or just to spend some quality time aloft. However, the sweltering heat that often accompanies summer weather can throw a nasty wrench in the works by creating severe thunderstorms, high density altitudes, and visibility-reducing haze.

To help you weather summer’s tumultuous nature, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation has gathered pertinent summer weather topics into one place. Check summer weather safety tips, brush up on your weather knowledge, and test your newly acquired skills with the ASF Safety Quiz: Thunderstorms.

Also, see ASF President Bruce Landsberg’s article “ Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: Too Close for Comfort” and read how a thunderstorm claimed a Piper Twin Comanche and what the pilot could have done to avoid the accident.

Make it a summer of flying to remember.

ASF SAFETY SEMINARS

  • August 17 Torrance, CA
  • August 31 Germantown, TN

Tentative schedule; visit the Web site for confirmed information.

AOPA AIRPORT SUPPORT NETWORK

In the 1990s, public-use airports were closing at an average rate of two per week. Over the past 10 years, thanks to the efforts of the AOPA Airport Support Network, AOPA member volunteers at almost 2,000 airports across the country have played an integral role in helping AOPA slow that trend. For more information on how you can help support your airport, visit AOPA Online.

Volunteer Spotlight: Otto Shill

Arizona: Noise complaints: For airports, noise complaints can be the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent, providing an entrée for a whole range of attacks. But airports aren’t always easy prey—they often carry a big stick in the form of grant obligations, the strings that come attached to federal aid dollars. Because the FAA wants to protect its investment in airports, it requires operators to sign long-term agreements to keep the facilities operating relatively unencumbered.

All of this is familiar territory for Mesa, Arizona, ASN volunteer Otto Shill. A local attorney and active homebuilder based at Falcon Field, Shill watched as discussions about airport noise grew more contentious. Voluntary steps aimed at reducing noise were taken, but the situation was far from resolved. “What started as a discussion about noise,” Shill says, “had morphed into a whole set of proposals for new restrictions.”

Fortunately, he was well positioned to influence the debate. Looking to hear all sides of the story, the City of Mesa formed an ad-hoc committee to address the rapidly multiplying issues, and Shill was appointed to one of the seats. In that capacity he has been able to speak for the interests of GA regarding proposals as wide-ranging as the restriction of flight training, institution of new landing fees, and limitation of night flights. Taking an active approach to the role, he set up a meeting between airport businesses and the Chamber of Commerce, and has served as an unofficial mediator among some of the parties involved. Shill has also worked closely with AOPA throughout the process, reaching out to the association for support in developing reasonable, GA-friendly recommendations to the committee. That collaboration led AOPA to send a letter to the Mesa city manager reinforcing the need to reach a workable solution without reneging on prior commitments.

As of press time the committee was still in the process of drafting recommendations, but having Shill’s voice at the center of the debate has already proven invaluable. Although AOPA can often help in these situations, in most cases it’s communication and cooperation among local stakeholders that ultimately leads to a resolution.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Read AOPA’s Guide to Obtaining Community Support for Your Local Airport and Guide to Airport Noise and Compatible Land Use.

Incompatible land use

Alaska: Earlier this year, the small town of Nenana, Alaska, was looking for a place to build a community garden—a spot where residents could grow their own fruits and vegetables. And it just so happened that the town owned a sizeable tract of open, undeveloped land. Sounds like a perfect match, right?

Not exactly. As it turned out, there was a good reason the land hadn’t been developed: It was located in the runway protection zone (RPZ) for Runway 4L at the Nenana airport. RPZs are open areas that project outward from the ends of a runway—“buffer zones” put in place for the safety of both pilots and the general public.

As a member of the committee considering the garden project, ASN volunteer Adam White heard about the proposal. And as a pilot, he knew it probably wasn’t smart to have people congregating near the end of the runway. But he wasn’t certain what FAA rules, if any, applied to the situation. So rather than raise objections immediately, he went on a fact-finding mission. Working through local contacts, he got copies of the airport master plan and the applicable FAA advisory circulars, which confirmed what he already suspected: RPZs are limited to just a handful of uses—and wildlife-attracting public gardens aren’t among them.

After verifying with AOPA that the proposal constituted an incompatible land use, White went back to the committee and stated his case with a solid, fact-based argument (one, incidentally, made more compelling by the recent bird strike-related ditching of US Airways Flight 1549). And it worked: The other committee members were won over, and the proposed site was formally ruled out. As White says, “It was a good opportunity to help people understand why it’s important to keep some open space around airports.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Stay involved in your community (you’ll hear about proposals like this sooner) and read AOPA’s Guide for Airport Advocates: Participating in the Planning Process. Also be aware that the FAA has begun putting more emphasis on keeping RPZs clear.