October 1, 2009
By Kathy Dondzila
With the letters “EAA” emblazoned by a skywriter across a crisp blue Wisconsin sky, the presidents of the world’s two largest aviation associations signed a memorandum of understanding that harnesses the power of the two organizations to bring about improvements to general aviation. Under the agreement, EAA and AOPA pledged to support each other’s efforts to promote, protect, and expand the general aviation community. “EAA welcomes AOPA’s support of our outreach efforts to expand the pilot population, especially through our Young Eagles program,” said EAA President Tom Poberezny against a backdrop of the Airbus A380, the world’s largest airliner. “And we are looking forward to supporting AOPA efforts to polish GA’s public perception with its General Aviation Serves America campaign.”
The medical staffs of both associations, AOPA’s Board of Aviation Medical Advisors and EAA’s Aeromedical Advisory Council, met soon after the announcement to work together on advocacy issues for their members. Aviation medical examiners and the association’s dedicated medical teams discussed a broad range of medical certification topics that affect pilots, including the success of the FAA’s AME-Assisted Special Issuance (AASI) program.
“The FAA’s aeromedical certification process works most efficiently when pilots and their AMEs have a thorough knowledge of what medical records the agency needs in order to make a timely certification decision,” said Gary Crump, AOPA director of medical certification, who attended the meeting. “Because of that, we agreed to work together to better reach out to pilots with information about the medical certification process.”
The FAA announced that starting March 1, 2010, it will no longer mail airworthiness directives (ADs) and special airworthiness information bulletins (SAIBs) for free. You will need to sign up online for free electronic versions or pay for a subscription for biweekly paper ADs.
“AOPA has been working with the FAA for four years on the transition from paper to electronic ADs and SAIBs,” said Leisha Bell, AOPA director of aircraft and environmental affairs. “Our goal is to ensure the transition goes smoothly and that the FAA continues to mail paper copies of emergency ADs.”
The free e-mail system, called GovDelivery, allows you to subscribe to all published documents or only those pertaining to a specific product make and model. The service sends ADs and SAIBs to the e-mail address of each affected subscriber.
The FAA stopped mailing paper ADs and SAIBs for Transport category airplanes and their engines in September 2007. Mailed paper ADs and SAIBs for Transport rotorcraft and rotorcraft engines will end October 1, 2009; all other rotorcraft and rotorcraft engines January 1, 2010; and all aircraft, engines, and propellers March 1, 2010.
AOPA is collecting pilots’ feedback on their experience with the electronic AD system. Once you start using the service, contact AOPA’s Pilot Information Center at 800-USA-AOPA.
The NTSB has recommended that the FAA change the application for an airman medical certificate to request information related to sleep apnea. The NTSB also made recommendations directed at determining the impact of short-haul, multi-segment flights on pilot fatigue.
The letter addresses pilot fatigue and recommends that the application “elicit specific information about any previous diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea and about the presence of specific risk factors for that disorder.”
The FAA requires a report of the initial sleep study that diagnoses obstructive sleep apnea and a maintenance of wakefulness test after therapy is begun to confirm that there is no excessive daytime sleepiness. Pilots with a history of controlled sleep apnea are then followed annually by the FAA under a special-issuance authorization. The AOPA Pilot Information Center provides resources about sleep apnea, including treatment options acceptable to the FAA and follow-up requirements.
Michigan’s Grosse Ile Municipal Airport sits so close to the U.S.-Canada border that pilots operating in the traffic pattern may cross into Canadian airspace. Under the new notam, pilots conducting VFR operations at border airports will no longer need to contact ATC, squawk a discrete code, or file a flight plan while in the traffic pattern.
AOPA President Craig Fuller met with Montana pilots at the Bozeman, Montana airport. Discussions ranged from potential airport security procedures to user fees. He also offered support to backcountry airstrips while in the state.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and Sens. Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln commended the general aviation industry for its contributions to the state economy at The General Aviation Jobs for Arkansas Forum. The lawmakers spoke before an audience of about 100 community leaders and more than 500 Dassault Falcon and Hawker Beechcraft employees.
In the wake of the tragic mid-air accident in the New York Hudson River VFR corridor involving a general aviation airplane and a sightseeing helicopter, AOPA quickly reached out to the media with the facts about the airspace and GA safety.
West Virginia officials and policymakers showed their support for general aviation at the 2009 West Virginia Aviation Conference. AOPA Vice President of Local Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn spoke to the group about the importance of airport advocacy and AOPA’s ongoing efforts and met with Gov. Joe Manchin III, a 40-year AOPA member and aircraft owner.
The $50.5 billion budget Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland recently signed included funding for the state’s airport grant program, providing money for runway and taxiway maintenance and obstruction removal. In the final two-year budget, the state House and Senate restored nearly three-fourths of the program’s funding—a victory for general aviation, considering that just a month ago the Senate had proposed cutting the entire program over the next two years.
After spending the day with your head in the clouds, talking about the latest general aviation issues and participating in educational forums at AOPA’s Aviation Summit, grab your family for a relaxing night at the Florida Aquarium. It’s sure to be a memorable experience for all.
Friday night, November 6, AOPA will host a reception at the Florida Aquarium from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. You and your family will have the run of the aquarium, as we’ve booked it exclusively for AOPA Aviation Summit attendees. Enjoy dinner and cocktails inside the aquarium, then join us at the Caribbean Cantina, located just outside the aquarium, for music and dancing.
The aquarium boasts more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals from around the world ( visit the Florida Aquarium Web site). You can walk through a coral reef gallery, simulating a scuba dive to 60 feet below the surface; take a look at the fish in Florida’s bays and beaches; and see ducks, turtles, alligators, river otters, and more. You might be surprised at what you can (or can’t) see right away in the exhibits. According to the Web site, a “Goliath grouper is more than 300 pounds but can still be missed as he often blends in with his environment like a great motionless statue!”
Forbestraveller.com rates the Florida Aquarium among the nation’s best, offering a uniquely hands-on experience. From penguin petting (Penguin Backstage Pass) to diving with live sharks (for certified scuba divers age 15 and older), your visit will be one to remember for years to come. Admission is $65 for adults and $30 for children, and includes dinner as well as access to the entire aquarium and the Caribbean Cantina.
Register for AOPA Aviation Summit today (November 5 through 7), and make plans to bring your entire family. We’ll have events for your spouse and children every day—the night at the aquarium is just a start!
A wide range of aircraft will be on display at Airportfest, part of AOPA Aviation Summit: The smallest weigh less than a pound.
AOPA and the Academy of Model Aeronautics are sponsoring an interactive display of indoor, electric remote-control flying at Airportfest, at Peter O. Knight Airport in Tampa, Fla., November 5 through 7. Enjoy demonstrations from record-holding, world-class remote control aircraft exhibition pilots, and try your hand at flying one with an instructor.
The hangar will be abuzz with activity throughout Airportfest, with demonstrations and opportunities to fly from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Youth and adults alike can fly with an instructor and enjoy watching stunts in model airplanes and helicopters performed by expert RC pilots.
At Summit, your kids will love building and flying their own model airplanes. Be a part of the future— sign up for AOPA Aviation Summit today!
AOPA Insurance Agency program benefits member
William Bittner of New Jersey began flying 30 years ago. He had never filed an insurance claim until last year when an accident happened. The tail on his Cessna 172 was damaged while tied down at his local airport.
“Although I had strong evidence of how it happened, no one stepped up to take responsibility,” said Bittner.
But the AOPA Insurance Agency was there to help cover all the repairs and waive the deductible—a benefit Bittner received with the AOPA Accident Forgiveness and Deductible Waiver Enhancement. It’s easy to qualify by completing the required AOPA Air Safety Foundation online courses and live safety seminars every six months.
“This year, my insurance renewal came in over $200 higher than the previous year,” added Bittner. “So I contacted the AOPA Insurance Agency with further documentation of the online courses I completed, and the renewal increase was removed.”
Visit the Web site for more information or call 800/622-AOPA (2672).
Christopher Piety, an attorney and a pilot, from San Carlos, California, recognized that he needed assistance in navigating the complexity of the U.S. Code and its application to pilots for both compliance and to defend himself if he needed to.
“What research I have done and what I learned from the AOPA articles by John and Kathy Yodice, the FAA enforcement system does not give pilots the usual constitutional due process rights and hearing procedures fundamental to our civil and criminal systems.
“That means a pilot must know how to handle him- or herself correctly the first time, or risk losing the privilege we all work hard for,” said Piety.
And for that reason, he is enrolled in the AOPA Legal Services Plan, which makes aviation legal assistance and representation available to him as an AOPA member.
“The Legal Services Plan is tremendous in that for very little cost, one has access to a level of expertise that costs many thousands of dollars on the retail market,” said Piety, an AOPA Legal Services Plan member for two years.
“As an insurance claims professional, I purchase specialty legal services at wholesale prices, and the AOPA program still beats that hands down. There is no question that everyone should have this protection for the tremendous value it provides.”
Most pilots don’t think they’ll need legal assistance because they’re good, careful, and experienced pilots, or because they don’t fly often. But the plan provides members with services they may need, no matter how infrequently they fly—like reviewing their hangar, tie-down, and lease agreements.
“I have used the service already to obtain advice and assistance on a self-reporting matter. I also plan on using the service for when I am purchasing an airplane within the next year,” said Piety.
“As an attorney, I have very high expectations of fellow professionals. AOPA exceeded my expectations with assistance that was immediate, courteous, on point legally, but also practical.”
Take a moment to enroll in the Legal Services Plan online or call 800-USA-AOPA (800-872-2672) for more information.
Colorado Springs, CO
Stay proficient! Don’t wait until your next flight review; take a free AOPA Air Safety Foundation online course today.
ASF designed its courses with your busy schedule in mind: You can take them whenever and wherever you’d like. Your progress is saved, so when other chores vie for your attention, you can stop and later relaunch the course to pick up where you left off.
Worried you won’t be able to find which course you were working on—or, worse, that the system did not remember where you left off? We’ve got you covered: The program will remember where you left off when you return. And, at any time, check your ASF transcript, which keeps track of your progress, including test scores. It also allows you to reprint a certificate of completion, suitable for framing. If for any reason you run into problems, let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
AOPA members can access their course transcript online; nonmembers can setup a free login to create an ASF course transcript page. Most courses qualify for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and the FAA Wings program.
Get instant Wings credit for ASF courses
Like earning proficiency credit but hate jumping through bureaucratic hoops? Good news: Gone is the cumbersome, 12-step verification process to receive FAA Wings credit for qualifying AOPA Air Safety Foundation online courses. Now you need only click a button at the end of the course to be awarded instant Wings credit; confirmation is received by return e-mail.
Continued VFR into IMC
Continued VFR flight into IMC eventually winds up deadly. And it did for a Cessna 182 pilot and his passenger during a night cross-country flight on January 17, 2007, en route from Gillette-Campbell County Airport in Gillette, Wyoming, to Hunt Field Airport in Lander, Wyoming.
According to a family member, the pilot had flown from Lander to Gillette earlier that day to pick up his passenger and return to Lander. Data recovered from the airplane’s portable GPS receiver showed that the airplane departed Gillette and initially traveled in a southwest direction toward Lander. About five miles southwest of Gillette, the airplane headed southeast for approximately one mile, then turned back to the southwest. Shortly thereafter, the airplane made a 180-degree left turn back toward Gillette. Approximately one mile south of Gillette, the airplane turned south and continued along a state highway for approximately 10 miles, after which it turned toward the southwest. The altitude varied between 6,800 and 7,300 feet msl, and gradually decreased until the airplane impacted terrain. Reported weather in the area included snow, high winds, and reduced visibility.
The NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident to be the pilot’s continued VFR flight into IMC and failure to maintain terrain clearance, resulting in controlled flight into terrain. Contributing factors were the pilot’s improper preflight and in-flight planning, snow, and reduced visibility.
The 56-year-old private pilot had accumulated 2,950 hours. The pilot, very familiar with the route, had been “flying around Wyoming since the early 1980s,” according to a family member. Sadly, neither flight hours nor terrain familiarity could save this VFR-into-IMC flight.
Don’t let this happen to you. Visit ASF’s Safety Spotlight.
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.
New York: When ASN volunteer Michael Levy touched down at the quiet Plattsburgh, New York, airport (PBG) last fall, he wasn’t expecting to be greeted with a $10 landing and facility fee. Though hardly a stranger to landing fees (he often flies into busy urban fields like Teterboro and Morristown), Levy was surprised to encounter the charges at the relatively low-traffic airport: “They had a really nice operation, but the fee seemed out of line with other airports in the area. It didn’t seem like it was doing much to encourage general aviation pilots to fly there.”
Levy is the volunteer at Saratoga Springs, New York (5B2)—not Plattsburgh, which doesn’t have an ASNV (see “ What you can do,” below). But that didn’t stop him. He sought out Sue Matton, an acquaintance on the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce, who listened with surprise as Levy told her about the fees and their potential impact. She’d been looking for new ways to promote the airport, but hadn’t been aware that the fees were being collected.
As it turned out, that conversation was all it took to get the ball rolling. Working with others in the airport community who had similar concerns, Matton helped convince the county legislature to drop the landing fee for aircraft below 12,500 pounds, and to make substantial cuts in transient tiedown charges. The changes brought the fee structure into line with other airports in the region, and removed a significant impediment to GA activity.
The FAA expects airports to be as financially self-sustaining as possible, which is why many of them look to usage fees to boost revenue. But the fees have to be reasonable, both because the FAA requires it and, more pragmatically, because they often discourage the very activity that constitutes the airport’s true economic foundation. In other words, when it comes to landing fees, less is often more.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Check AOPA’s Airport Directory Online to see if your airport has an ASN volunteer. If it doesn’t, consider applying. Also keep an eye out for other airports in your area: If you hear about an issue at an airport without a volunteer, be sure to let AOPA know, and don’t hesitate to get involved.
Missouri: Pilots visiting Kansas City’s Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport (MKC) can expect to see major changes in the facilities and services available on the field—most prominent among them the addition of 96 new light aircraft hangars. The latest phase in a long-term airport renovation program begun in 2005, the project more than doubled the number of hangars on the field, replacing 40 World War II-era units. In addition, construction is currently under way on a new general aviation facility that will feature a pilots’ lounge and other amenities, as well as self-service fuel (a first for the airport) and an aircraft wash bay.
The airport is also undergoing a corporate aviation renaissance of sorts with the opening of a new FBO. Currently operating out of a temporary facility, Hangar Ten caters primarily to jets and turboprops, and will eventually occupy a 91,000-square-foot complex being built on the airport’s northwest corner. Meanwhile, Executive Beechcraft—for many years the airport’s only FBO—has recently completed a major renovation project of its own.
All the activity marks a busy airport with a promising future, one in which light general aviation will clearly play a key role. “The airport seems more friendly to the smaller guys than it used to be,” says ASN volunteer Kim Winkelbauer. “Things have really turned around.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO: ’s often in short supply. To learn how you can help jump start a hangar project at your airport, read AOPA’s Aircraft Hangar Development Guide .
If you haven’t been to the Airports and State Advocacy section of the AOPA Web site lately, you’re missing out on some major changes. The site has received a complete overhaul to make it easier to find what you need, be it background info on a particular issue, an e-mail address for your regional representative, or a place to let AOPA know about an issue at your airport. The site also includes a brand-new Airports Library page that gathers all our educational resources together in one spot, grouped by topic. Check it out online.
Special Issuance Medical,
Pilot Health and Medical,
VFR into IMC,
Safety and Education
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AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.