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April 1, 2010
By Kathy Dondzila
President Craig Fuller calls on members to get directly involved in GA issues
It takes more than associations speaking up to teach opinion leaders and decision makers about general aviation. It takes individual members stepping up and becoming actively engaged with their community leaders.
“As I see it, some of the top issues for the coming year and beyond must include protecting our nation’s airports, ensuring that air traffic modernization accounts for the needs of all system users, and building the pilot population,” AOPA President Craig Fuller recently told airport directors and commissioners in South Carolina. “In order to make real progress on these issues, I will be asking every one of AOPA’s more than 415,000 members to get personally engaged in protecting and promoting general aviation.”
Fuller said AOPA is prepared to back up its members as they become more active and engaged, providing tools like a new engagement section on AOPA Online, which includes tips and suggestions on how to get more deeply involved in the future of GA.
At the same time that AOPA is supporting the individual efforts of its members, the association will continue and even increase its advocacy for GA across a broad front.
America’s network of some 5,200 public-use airports remain a critical issue for AOPA and its members. In addition to longtime efforts such as the AOPA Airport Support Network of approximately 2,000 volunteers, Fuller announced that the association will add new tools for the work ahead. “We are going to produce an economic study of the nation’s GA airports to give individual airports, communities, and states the hard data they need to show just how much value these small airports provide,” Fuller told his audience. “That’s information we can and will take to Washington, D.C., too, where numbers can sometimes speak louder than words.”
He also noted that 2010 is a federal election year, with every member of the House of Representatives and approximately one-third of senators up for election. “The general aviation community votes,” he said, “and we want to be sure that GA, and GA airports, get the attention of the candidates.
“So, in conjunction with our General Aviation Serves America campaign and our partners, we will be traveling to airports around the country and hosting events that highlight the value of these incredible community resources. And we will be encouraging state, local, and national candidates and lawmakers to take part. This is something we’ve already started, with events in locations as diverse as Stuttgart, Arkansas, and Mojave, California, already this year.”
Fuller said AOPA will be calling on members to attend, and even organize, such events. “There’s no better way to attract the attention of politicians in an election year than to bring out the voters.”
Another issue that AOPA will address is the declining pilot population and the need to draw more people into aviation. As part of that effort, AOPA will work with flight schools to determine why nearly 70 percent of people who start flying lessons never go on to get their pilot certificates.
“We are going to be doing some carefully crafted research and taking advantage of the firsthand knowledge of those in the training industry to find out what works and what doesn’t, with the goal of developing best practices to help student pilots complete their training and earn their certificates. In addition to looking at the students themselves, we’re going to take a hard look at the training environment to find out how it affects the completion process,” he said.
“Taking action and making a commitment to become more engaged is vital,” concluded Fuller. “Even with our success, I must tell you that we can no longer take for granted that the freedom to fly will be sustained unless we work to defend that freedom we cherish.”
Online coverage: keyword: Engage
The scheduled decommissioning of many ground-based navaids starting this year puts GPS on course to supplant VOR equipment in general aviation cockpits. AOPA is asking the FAA to work closely with users on a decommissioning strategy that aligns with the deployment of new technology and takes into account many pilots’ current use of VORs for navigation.
The Coast Guard’s decommissioning of the long-range navigation (loran) system on February 8 left GA pilots with only VORs to serve as a backup to GPS. The FAA plans to phase out those navaids, too, starting with service reductions in 2010. AOPA is communicating directly with the FAA’s office of navigation services and providing input about the decommissionings as requested.
AOPA has long supported the use of GPS for navigation and surveillance but has warned against relying on the technology without a safety net in the event of an outage.
Pilots who fly south of the border will be able to reap the benefits of AOPA’s renewal of its annual agreement with Rick Gardner, Authorized AOPA Representative for the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America.
Gardner’s services include research, review, and analysis of regulatory, security, and legislative actions, drafting documents and correspondence, and attending meetings on behalf of AOPA with regard to issues affecting international operations between the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.
“Rick’s advocacy work on behalf of AOPA’s international efforts is highly valuable,” said Woody Cahall, AOPA vice president of the Pilot Information Center. “He has intervened on behalf of AOPA members who have needed special assistance and is active in addressing Bahamas and Caribbean issues.”
Rick and his wife Pia own and operate Caribbean Sky Tours, headquartered in Cancun, Mexico. Rick is from Nassau, Bahamas, and is a U.S. certificated pilot and CFII/MEI with an engineering/operations background and corporate general management experience.
Pia is from Puebla, Mexico, and has a background in international relations and marketing with experience in international trade, and travel and tourism. Rick and Pia work directly with different government agencies and service providers to promote international general aviation tourism, and over the years they have forged a network of relationships in the region. Using this depth of experience, they provide personalized service to pilots wishing to fly to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America in general aviation aircraft.
Sixty days, one bill, and the fate of Florida’s multi-billion-dollar general aviation industry at stake: This is the playing field that AOPA and its local allies must navigate to do away with the use tax on out-of-state aircraft and reopen Florida to visiting aircraft owners from around the nation. This year, a prominent new sponsor, Sen. Mike Fasano, has taken the helm in the Senate to end this economically detrimental tax policy once and for all, before the ceremonial white handkerchief drops on May 1 marking final adjournment for the year.
The amount, in state “luxury taxes,” a Cirrus SR22 owner could have been forced to pay this year under a proposed Illinois bill that AOPA helped to defeat.
The Washington state Senate unanimously passed a bill to protect the state’s public-use airports from incompatible development. Senate Bill 6603 would require the Department of Transportation’s aviation division to develop strategies to prohibit incompatible land use adjacent to general aviation airports.
AOPA Northwest Regional Representative Mike Ferguson testified before the Senate Transportation Committee in support of the bill, along with Washington Pilots Association President John Dobson, Washington Department of Transportation Director of Aviation John Sibold, and state and local officials.
Members of the Washington state House of Representatives looking for ways to generate more tax revenue have proposed a bill that would include a dramatic increase in the excise tax for aircraft.
AOPA has been in Olympia to testify on the bill and engage House leadership and other key legislators about the potential economic harm the tax would do.
“Legislators will not be surprised to hear from aircraft owners who oppose paying higher taxes,” AOPA Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy Greg Pecoraro said. “So it’s key to really explain how this tax would diminish flying in the state and the associated economic activity—because that hurts the state’s bottom line, and it is all about economics right now.”
The city of Kalispell, Montana, is considering the refusal of federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds in order to build an airport outside the town and close Kalispell City Airport. Accepting an AIP grant would require that the city keep the current airport open for another 20 years.
Local pilots, the Montana Pilots Association, and AOPA object to the city’s plan, arguing that the airport’s current location best meets the needs of the community. “Kalispell City Airport generates 395 jobs in the community, adds value to the local economy, and supports emergency medical operations,” explained Joey Colleran, AOPA director of advocacy. “It is a model example of a self-sustaining airport that benefits the community and has a terrific safety record.”
A New Jersey law regulating small wind energy projects is designed to facilitate wind energy without interfering with aviation.
New Jersey Assembly Bill 3740, which recently became law, prohibits municipalities from enacting ordinances that “unreasonably limit or hinder” the performance of small wind energy systems. However, the bill does require those systems to comply with all applicable FAA requirements, including regulations regarding installations close to airports.
AOPA supports moving forward with new energy solutions as long as they do not put pilots’ safety at risk.
As Arizona lawmakers consider dipping into the state aviation funds once again to meet a budget shortfall this year, the aviation community took the message of the industry’s importance to the steps of the state capitol. A hot air balloon and helicopter graced the grounds of the capitol as aviation supporters engaged Arizona legislators at the fifth annual Arizona Aviation Day. The event was organized by the Arizona Airports Association and cosponsored by AOPA.
Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas and Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie want state residents to look up and see blue skies. On Feb. 18, Douglas signed a proclamation declaring February to be “Aviation and Aerospace Appreciation Month.”
Douglas signed the proclamation during an open house hosted by the Vermont Aerospace and Aviation Association (VAAA), an organization chaired by Dubie.
AOPA Manager of State Legislative Affairs Mark Kimberling said the proclamation is a welcome recognition for an embattled industry. “AOPA has been fighting off excessive new tax proposals and aviation funding raids across the country from lawmakers who don’t necessarily understand the breadth and value of GA in their states,” Kimberling said. “It’s very significant for the leaders of Vermont to deliver a clear message in support of general aviation right now—to everyone in Vermont, and beyond.”
The Thirty-Sixth Annual Sun ’n Fun Fly-In is quickly approaching in Lakeland, Florida. Join AOPA from April 13 through 18 to celebrate Spring Break for Pilots and the general aviation community under the Big Yellow Tent and around the event grounds. Friday, April 16, is AOPA Day, so be sure to take advantage of the AOPA member discount. For show details, highlights and ticket information, visit Sun ’n Fun’s Web site. Make your travel plans now, and we’ll see you there!
You knew your aircraft hull value when you bought your airplane. After all, careful research is part of the purchase process, so you had every reason to be confident in your valuation when you first purchased your policy.
What you may not have realized is that as much as 75 percent of your insurance premium is a direct result of your airplane’s hull value.
It is critically important that you put the right hull value on your aircraft. If the value of your aircraft has decreased, you could be paying too much for your insurance, and risk encountering a potential claim issue in determining between a partial loss and a constructive total. If you financed the airplane, a lender is yet another consideration. If the hull value has increased, you could find yourself with inadequate coverage when you need it most. You should review your hull value at least once a year, at policy renewal time.
Fortunately, AOPA members have an easy way to check the value of their aircraft using AOPA’s online aircraft valuation service, Vref. You can access Vref online. The service is free to AOPA members.
When it comes to moving up to a newer, more complex, or faster aircraft, it’s important to have a transition plan. You’ll need to do your homework, get training, and consider your insurance needs.
“It’s a good idea to talk to your insurance broker before you start shopping for that new airplane,” said Brenda Jennings, senior vice president of the AOPA Insurance Agency. “What works for a pilot transitioning from a fixed-gear to a retractable-gear aircraft will be different than what may work for someone going from a high-performance piston twin to a very light jet. It’s a good idea to know what you’ll need in terms of experience, training, ratings, and insurance before you sign that contract.”
Once you have a sense of what your insurer will require, you can develop a more effective transition plan, including a timeline for the training you’ll need—especially if it includes new ratings, flight hours with a safety pilot, or other qualification-building requirements. If you’re considering moving up, contact the AOPA Insurance Agency at 800-622-AOPA (2672) to learn more about your options.
Participation in the AOPA Legal Services Plan is a wise and affordable decision. For just $33 a year, you have more than 600 aviation attorneys on call for you. If you get yourself into a jam involving your flying, your business lawyer or tax lawyer—no matter how trusted they may be—might not be your best choice.
You may be buying or selling an airplane, creating an airplane partnership, reviewing a hangar lease, or any number of everyday tasks that face a typical general aviation pilot.
Even the most careful and experienced pilots have accidents. The FAA initiates thousands of enforcement actions annually, and you never know when a routine flight could result in one. The rules are getting more and more complex. That’s why it pays to have an attorney to call. No need to waste time getting references and referrals—you’ll go straight to the AOPA Legal Services Plan panel of attorneys.
Convinced? Start the year off right by enrolling in AOPA’s Legal Services Plan online or by calling 800-USA-AOPA.
Complex taxiway and runway intersections can be confusing to someone unfamiliar with the airport layout. Hundreds of runway incursions occur every year, and sadly, most are caused by GA pilots.
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation, in conjunction with the FAA Runway Safety Program Office, has provided some 600 airport taxi diagrams for the busiest U.S. towered airports to help pilots navigate them safely. In addition to complex layouts, several airports are notorious for having “hot spot” areas. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defines a hot spot as “a location on an aerodrome movement area with a history or potential risk of collision or runway incursion, and where heightened attention by pilots and drivers is necessary.”
ASF and the FAA Runway Safety Program Office have made available diagrams for the 62 airports currently on the “hot spot” list. These diagrams depict the areas and describe the potential problems associated with the trouble spots. Check before each flight to be sure you have the most current layout, take the opportunity to study the diagram before you arrive or depart, and be aware of your position while moving on ramps and taxiways—especially at the more complex towered airports, where you’ll be mixing with large aircraft and ground vehicles moving in close proximity.
Take ASF’s updated Runway Safety online course, and download the Operations at Towered Airports Safety Advisor.
ASF staff is looking forward to meeting you at their booth located in the AOPA tent at Florida’s Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. You’ll enjoy first-hand demonstrations of ASF’s latest online courses and programs, and get answers to any questions you may have on ASF’s mission or how to contribute to its award-winning safety education programs. Mark your Sun ’n Fun calendar now to attend an ASF seminar and hear ASF President Bruce Landsberg speak. Before you go, join the Sun ’n Fun fly-in procedures Webinar to interact with ASF staff and the air traffic controllers and share your opinion and concerns. Check the Web site for Webinar registration information, and visit www.asf.org/seminars to confirm additional topics and schedules.
Florida: When it comes to long-term viability, airports that are financially self-sustaining and well integrated into their communities have clear advantages. Consider central Florida’s Sebring Regional Airport (SEF).
Sebring no doubt benefits from favorable circumstances. For one, it’s collocated with the Sebring International Raceway, home of the famous 12 Hours of Sebring race and associated businesses. But that alone hasn’t been enough to guarantee success: Grass-roots development efforts and positive relationships with state and local representatives have also played major roles. Because of the proactive approach taken by Executive Director Mike Willingham and ASN volunteer Robert Wood, among others, Sebring has developed a thriving industrial park. For the past six years the airport has hosted the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo.
Such ventures have allowed for improvements to the field and drawn attention from other airports that want to emulate Sebring’s success. “I’d attribute a lot of our good fortune to the fact that we have a forward-looking executive director and an independent airport authority that isn’t beholden to other interests,” says Wood. “We’re also located away from the city, and the major portion of the taxes from the industrial park return to the airport.”
For more information on how you can help support your airport, visit AOPA Online.
Technical Communications Manager, Kathy Dondzila, joined AOPA in 1990 and is an instrument-rated private pilot.
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