February 1, 2011
By Kathy Dondzila
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has confirmed that a new proposal for general aviation security will not target small airports; instead, the proposal will focus on aircraft.
During the American Association of Airport Executives Aviation Security Summit in Arlington, Virginia, TSA Assistant Administrator John Sammon said that a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking working its way through the TSA would reflect the input from AOPA and other GA stakeholders shared in industry working-group meetings held last year.
The TSA is working on a new GA security proposal—after deciding to go back to the drawing board on its proposed Large Aircraft Security Program in June 2009 thanks to pressure from Congress and more than 8,000 public comments from the GA community. The original proposal would have applied commercial air carrier security measures to GA aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds, regardless of the type of operation. AOPA maintained that it was burdensome and costly, calling for crewmember criminal record checks, watch-list matching of passenger manifests, biennial third-party audits of each aircraft operator, and new airport security requirements.
AOPA will review the supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking as soon as it is released. The association expects the new proposal to increase the weight threshold and do away with calls for third-party audits, watch-list matching, federal air marshals on board the aircraft, and airport security program requirements. Also, AOPA believes the proposal will establish “trusted pilots” who have final authority over items and people on the aircraft.
The House GA Caucus, an informal, bipartisan group of members of the House of Representatives dedicated to strengthening general aviation and educating other members on the issues affecting GA, must be reconvened with each new Congress. Every member who served on the GA Caucus in 2010 (103 members) must rejoin for the 2011 Congress. Reach out to your representatives and tell them to join the GA Caucus!
The FAA’s aircraft registry is out of date, not dangerous, AOPA explained to reporters after media reports claimed that inaccuracies in the FAA’s aircraft registry “could be exploited by terrorists and drug traffickers.”
The FAA began a process of re-registration in November 2010 in an effort to clean up the aircraft registry. An Associated Press story that received wide use in other news outlets suggested that aircraft with “questionable registration”—such as inactive aircraft or ones with invalid addresses—are a gap in security that allow criminals to evade the authorities by using phony N numbers. The registry does need to be updated; however AOPA explained, it is not, itself, a security issue.
“We can understand how not knowing who owns a given aircraft might concern law enforcement officials, but the registry is not a gaping hole in security,” said AOPA Director of Media Relations Chris Dancy, who spoke with CNN, Fox News, the Associated Press, and other news outlets.
A layered approach to security keeps general aviation safe. Pilots and airport personnel across the country participate in AOPA’s Airport Watch, looking out for suspicious behavior and reporting it to 866/GA-SECURE. All certificated pilots are vetted against existing watch lists, and foreign flight students are required to submit fingerprints and be vetted by the TSA. Suspicious flights are monitored by government agencies and ATC. And flights across the U.S. border undergo security screenings.
The FAA does not plan to make regulatory changes to the flight instructor refresher clinic (FIRC) or CFI renewal process, the agency confirmed recently. The FAA had expressed concern over the GA safety record and asked for input on whether the regulatory requirements for CFI renewals should be changed, among other questions. The agency said it was seeking recommendations to improve the process but explained, “We’re not here to change the regulations” regarding CFI renewals.
The FAA had requested information on a number of questions regarding the effectiveness of FIRCs, whether the regulatory requirements for renewals should be changed, and how the flight training community can improve safety.
AOPA held several meetings with representatives of the FAA to try to gain a better understanding of the reason behind the move to review the CFI renewal process.
“The FAA views the CFI as an important link in delivering a message of safe practices to the individual pilot and ultimately reducing the accident rate overall,” said Kristine Hartzell, AOPA manager of regulatory affairs. “The FAA is attempting to improve the message delivered by CFIs.”
Representatives from AOPA voiced their support for making improvements in FIRC content, yet expressed that the association would not support unsubstantiated changes to the CFI renewal process as a whole. In the end, industry groups made recommendations for improvements in the core topics taught in FIRCs. AOPA expects to see changes to the core topics laid out in Advisory Circular 61–83F, Nationally Scheduled Federal Aviation Administration Approved Industry-Conducted Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics.
AOPA agrees that CFIs play an important role in aviation safety and that they should be provided the tools and skills necessary to deliver quality instruction to the students and certificated pilots with whom they come into contact. Earlier this year, AOPA commissioned an independent research study to identify strengths and weaknesses in the flight training experience. The research results were shared at the AOPA Flight Training Summit in November 2010.
Additionally, the Air Safety Institute provides several educational courses to supplement training given by CFIs and is the largest provider of FIRCs, offering courses both online and in-person. The institute is dedicated to improving the GA accident rate and is continuously delving into the accident statistics to determine where to focus training efforts. AOPA welcomes the opportunity to assist the FAA in future campaigns to reduce the GA accident rate.
City officials in Chandler, Arizona, could avoid incompatible land development near the Chandler Municipal Airport by denying a plan to build 15 homes on property within 1,200 feet of the airport’s terminal building. AOPA is calling on the city’s planning and zoning board to deny a rezoning extension needed to keep the 13-acre development plan alive. The original zoning change, approved three years ago, is set to expire because the proposed project has not gone forward. AOPA opposes residential development adjacent to public-use, federally funded airports as an incompatible land use. Allowing homes to be constructed in the immediate area of airports often leads to calls by residents to restrict airport operations, such as limiting the type and size of aircraft that can use the airport, or curfews. The Chandler Airport Commission recently recommended against extending the rezoning for the Vina Escondida development. “The city has a golden opportunity to correct a wrong when the first approval was given three years ago,” said AOPA Vice President of Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn. “The FAA requires airports that have received federal funds to protect the airport through zoning when possible. We expect the city to live up to that obligation.”
A growing airport that sits at the center of the nation’s general aviation industry has taken a big step closer to launching a needed expansion. The Sedgwick County, Kansas, b oard of county commissioners voted to approve two measures that would open the way for a runway expansion at Cook Airfield in Rose Hill, Kansas. The unanimous 5-0 vote came at a hearing well attended by airport supporters. AOPA members and airport supporters responded to calls to rally to the airport’s cause, which had faced a partly unfavorable recommendation from the area’s planning commission. That recommendation meant that at least a 4-1 vote of support for the airport was needed from the county commissioners. Local news coverage of the county commissioners’ vote emphasized the safety benefits of the planned runway extension, as well as enhanced availability of medical transportation at Cook Airfield for community members.
A Minnesota airport manager, whose job faces elimination in a budget-cutting effort, is finding that the aviation community he serves is willing to dig deep to keep him working. Glenn Burke, the manager of South St. Paul Airport, has held the job since 1994. During a recent budget session, the South St. Paul city council included his position among several municipal jobs to be cut or scaled back. Burke’s duties would be redistributed among other city agencies. Local pilots were shocked at the news, and quickly sought a meeting with the elected officials. They offered to raise $42,000 to fund Burke’s salary for 2011. Bob Wiplinger, CEO of the largest airport tenant, float manufacturer Wipaire Inc., sweetened the offer, proposing to match other tenants’ contributions. Burke also received strong support from the Fleming Field Aviation Association and other airport users, according to AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Mike Schoen. AOPA is urging city officials, who have yet to decide on a course of action, to reinstate the airport manager’s position and accept the proposition put before them by airport users. This would give the city time to find alternative cost-cutting solutions while keeping a “full-time professional airport manager whose sole focus is the airport” employed.
For more information on learning how to volunteer for AOPA, visit AOPA Online.
The National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) identifies nearly 3,400 existing and proposed airports that are significant to national air transportation and thus eligible to receive Federal grants under the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).
48: Number of NPIAS airports expected to open in the next five years
3,332: Number of existing airports in the NPIAS
2,829: Number of NPIAS airports used only by GA
4,247: Publicly owned, public-use airports
932: Privately owned, public-use airports
14,555: Privately owned, private-use airports
Top five Issues we engage in at airports around the country:
To learn more or get involved go online.
Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteer, Terry Meek, has been with the program since 2008. In 2010 he moved to Quincy Municipal (2J9) in Florida, and quickly took on the job of keeping pilots there informed on the latest issues facing general aviation, as well as establishing a good relationship with the Quincy-Gadsden County Airport Authority (QGAA).
Meek is a proactive volunteer who thrives on promoting general aviation and 2J9. He meets with the QGAA monthly to discuss any pressing issues, and the authority has approved and supports local pilot workshops which Meek has hosted. Meek has conducted three pilot workshops which focused on current GA issues and how pilots can educate the non-flying public on the benefits of GA to their communities, inform pilots about the leaded avgas policy process, and teamed up with the AOPA Air Safety Institute on a safety program workshop.
Meek became a volunteer to “be a resource for AOPA for the pilots at the airport…and promote GA.” With more than 5,300 hours of flying under his belt, this ATP and CFI is now making waves on the ground in supporting AOPA’s efforts to keep airports open and vibrant.
Ken Field has been a pilot since he was a teenager. In fact, he had his pilot certificate before his driver’s license.
Now as vice president of engineering for The Next Turbine Corporation, a company that inspects turbine generators for large power plants, his flying is almost exclusively for business purposes.
When a medical condition prompted the FAA to require Field to undergo much additional testing, he went along with it, thinking he would cooperate with the requirements. “Officially my medical had never been denied, and I considered switching to light sport aircraft, but I really didn’t want to—especially since my flying is for business,” he explains.
His pilot friend, Lloyd, mentioned AOPA’s Medical Services Program to him, suggesting he should take advantage of it. Field says, “I decided to get AOPA involved to help me find out the status of my paperwork with the FAA. I didn’t know how to go about doing that.” When he joined AOPA’s Medical Services Program, he says, “JoAnn Wilson was my advocate, and she did a terrific job. I didn’t know the best way to interact with the FAA, but she did.”
The end result was that through the Medical Services Program, AOPA helped Field coordinate his testing, to see what was still needed. “AOPA is invaluable when you look at the complexity of your physical condition in the eyes of the FAA. Anybody who has medical issues should be involved with AOPA.”
Field explains one big lesson he learned through this process: “You definitely want to make sure you submit your information to the FAA all at the same time. JoAnn stressed that over and over to me—to send one package to Oklahoma City, and that was a big help in trying to get my situation resolved.”
Now with his airman medical back and current again, Field is looking to buy a new airplane. “I don’t quite have my finger on it, but I’m poking around to see what’s available.” He says general aviation and AOPA has been invaluable in his professional life and he looks forward to his next FAA physical, which calls for no special testing whatsoever. “AOPA’s Medical Services Program is more than worth the cost—no doubt in my mind whatsoever.”
For more information on the AOPA Medical Services program go online or call 800.872.2672.
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All you need is a computer, one hour of free time, and a comfortable chair. Then sit back, relax, and participate in one of ASI’s engaging safety webinars. What’s a webinar, you ask? Imagine attending one of ASI’s well-known safety seminars, except you travel through cyberspace to participate. And this is by no means a one-way experience. Grab the chance to use the webinar’s chat feature to pose questions to the panel of experts on the topic at hand, hear their response, and engage in a lively debate with other attendees. Subject matters range from safety concerns particular to an event, region, or area in the United States to broader topics such as runway safety and weather.
To take a closer look, go online and register for a date and time convenient for your schedule. Or learn from recently recorded webinars such as Cold Weather Ops and Takeoffs & Landings: The Expert Approach.
In Cold Weather Ops, you will join AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg and panelists Dana Siewert (director of aviation safety, University of North Dakota) and Andy Marosvari (ATC, Boise Tower) for a wide-ranging discussion of the ways cold weather can affect your flying.
In Takeoffs & Landings: The Expert Approach you’ll join ASI’s Chief Flight Instructor J.J. Greenway and special guest Jason Blair, executive director of NAFI, for an in-depth discussion of the art and science of takeoffs and landings. They’ll move beyond the basics of safety and look at techniques the experts use to get it done gracefully.
Coming to your armchair in early 2011 are Aeronautical Decision Making and Aerodynamics. See the website for registration details.
The 2010 Nall Report analyzes data from 1,418 general aviation accidents, both fixed-wing and rotorcraft, that occurred in U.S. airspace during 2009. Factors such as weather, pilot credentials, and aircraft class are broken down in detail, and trend data from the past 10 years help to put things into perspective.
So what’s the story?
Commercial operators, both fixed-wing and helicopter, had a very good year. There were only four fatal accidents on commercial helicopter flights (one of them the midair collision in the Hudson River Corridor) and only two in airplanes, both involving crop-dusters. The total numbers of accidents and accident rates were among the lowest of the decade.
The number of noncommercial airplane accidents dropped 5 percent from 2008, but flight time was down 10 percent. Not only did the accident rate increase 5 percent, but more were fatal (20 percent, up from 18 percent). There were 10 more fatal accidents than in 2008, and eight more people died.
The number of fuel-management accidents leveled off, and weather-related accidents showed their first meaningful decrease in years. However, the percentage of accidents blamed on mechanical failures or faulty maintenance jumped up. Amateur-built aircraft were disproportionately involved.
The type of flight activity that did not decline significantly was in non-commercial helicopters. They suffered 13 more accidents than in 2008, but five fewer were fatal.
And that’s just the beginning. The full report wil be available on ASI’s website after Feb. 2.
You may explore the Air Safety Institute’s online courses. Real Pilot Stories, and Accident Case Studies. But, when was the last time you picked up an ASI Safety Advisor publication?
These booklets pack a wealth of practical advice on a variety of topics such as airspace, weather, instrument operations, and GPS.
With cold weather and freezing temperatures covering most of the United States, no may be a good time to download and print Aircraft Icing and Aircraft Deicing and Anti-icing Equipment . A quick read at only 16 and 12 pages, respectively, these advisors are a great addition to your aviation library and flight bag.
Air Safety Institute,
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AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.