AOPA Action

What AOPA is doing to keep you flying

January 1, 2011

NATIONAL ACTION

DOT report shines spotlight on ADS-B program risks, cost

AOPA agrees with concerns raised by a Department of Transportation inspector general’s report on the FAA’s planned implementation of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) program, which shined a needed spotlight on management risks, cost burdens, and disincentives for early participation in the program by pilots.

The report makes nine recommendations to smooth the implementation and enhance contract oversight of ADS-B, which is to be a major component of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).

The FAA issued a final rule mandating ADS-B Out equipage, in which aircraft transmit their GPS-derived location and altitude to other nearby aircraft, and to air traffic control. Effective January 1, 2020, any aircraft operating in airspace where a Mode C transponder is required today also will be required to carry an ADS-B Out transmitter.

The FAA is not mandating ADS-B In systems with the rule. Aircraft would continue to be required to carry transponders after 2020. The FAA says the mandate will not greatly increase or decrease safety, but is needed to move NextGen forward.

AOPA has said that many hurdles prevent ADS-B from being beneficial to general aviation in the near term, presenting a significant disincentive to early adoption by GA pilots.

“Airspace users have raised legitimate questions about the costs to equip aircraft, evolving requirements for ADS-B In, and a lack of clearly defined benefits for enhancing capacity and reducing delays. FAA considers their concerns as a major risk to the successful implementation of ADS-B,” the report said. The 37-page document also addressed the “considerable uncertainty” in FAA estimates of the cost of equipping aircraft, with aggregate costs to airspace users ranging from $2.5 billion to $6.2 billion. It said the estimates “require further refinement.”

That uncertainty extended to the question of ADS-B In, which will allow cockpit displays of traffic information. “FAA expects that once airspace users have invested in ADS-B Out as mandated, they will then voluntarily equip to realize the additional capabilities of ADS-B In,” the report said. “However, ADS-B In is still in its early stages, and requirements for the full range of its applications envisioned in planning documents continue to change.”

How the FAA plans to modify its existing automation systems to display ADS-B information to controllers also is an open question, and problems integrating ADS-B on displays at the initial operating sites “indicate this will be a significant challenge to nationwide deployment.”

Until the FAA succeeds in addressing “uncertainties associated with equipage and requirements for ADS-B’s advanced capabilities, progress with ADS-B will
be limited, and the potential for cost increases, delays, and performance shortfalls will continue,” the report said.

Customs to crack down on eAPIS violations

It’s been more than one year since pilots started using the Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) for international flights, and Customs and Border Protection officials have decided it’s time to remove the training wheels.

Customs has notified AOPA that it will soon issue its first penalty against a pilot. The agency also informed AOPA that it will start issuing penalties on a monthly basis. Previously, Customs would send a warning letter to pilots who had violated eAPIS procedures. The penalty for the first violation is a $5,000 fine, while each subsequent violation carries a $10,000 fine.

Since May 18, 2009, pilots flying internationally have had to electronically submit a passenger list (manifest) and arrival/departure notification at least 60 minutes prior to leaving or entering the United States.

This summer, Customs released enhancements to eAPIS to make it easier to file the notifications. Pilots can now save up to 10 manifests indefinitely, and eAPIS will automatically save the latest five manifests for 30 days.

The Air Safety Institute has a free, interactive, online course, Understanding eAPIS (www.airsafetyinstitute.org/eAPIS), that guides pilots through the process of using the system.

Instrument hours should count toward commercial, AOPA says

AOPA is requesting that the FAA withdraw a letter of interpretation that stated the instrument time logged toward an instrument rating cannot be counted toward the instrument hours required for the commercial pilot certificate. Although the letter of interpretation was in reference to a question asking about the helicopter commercial pilot certificate, it could be applied to fixed-wing aircraft as well.

“AOPA has begun to receive calls that commercial pilot applicants are being turned away by examiners because of this new interpretation of FAR 61.129,” Kristine Hartzell, AOPA manager of regulatory affairs, wrote to the FAA. “This letter of interpretation must be withdrawn immediately in order to minimize further impact on commercial pilot applicants, flight schools, and flight instructors.”

AOPA explained that the regulation requiring “Ten hours of instrument training using a view-limiting device including attitude instrument flying, partial panel skills, recovery from unusual flight attitudes, and intercepting and tracking navigational systems” has always been understood to apply to a noninstrument-rated commercial pilot applicant seeking the “VFR only” commercial certificate. Instrument-rated applicants have already fulfilled the aeronautical knowledge requirements of FAR 61.129.

Furthermore, AOPA explained that instrument-rated applicants already have been evaluated by a designated examiner and there are no instrument tasks on the commercial pilot practical test.

The association also explained that the letter of interpretation has created such a drastic change that it has essentially created a new regulation without providing the opportunity for the public to comment.

“AOPA asserts that an instrument-rated pilot greatly exceeds the 10-hour instrument time set forth in 61.129 and that all training received in pursuit of an instrument rating should be creditable toward the aeronautical experience required for a commercial pilot certificate,” Hartzell said.

“This letter of interpretation should be withdrawn immediately,” Hartzell added.

FAA’s redrawn airpark policy is a ‘better treatment’

The FAA’s revised draft policy on residential through-the-fence access (RTTF) puts forth “a much better treatment” of the issue than earlier proposals, AOPA said in formal comments.

AOPA also continues to point out that the policymaking now in progress on RTTF gives the FAA an opportunity to consider the larger question of encroachment of airports by nonaviation-related development—a problem that imposes tremendous operational and economic constraints at many airports.

The FAA issued its draft revisions in September 2010 on RTTF, which gives aircraft owners with homes adjacent to public-use airports access to taxiways and runways from across the airport boundary, such as at residential airparks. RTTF access currently exists at approximately 70 of the 3,400 airports that are eligible for federal airport improvement funds under the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS).

The draft policy would allow airports with existing RTTF operations to continue or expand them, provided that the airports can meet specific criteria. The draft policy does not allow new airports to provide RTTF access.

AOPA issued preliminary comments on the revised rule when it was published, and continues to urge the FAA to reverse the prohibition on new RTTF access.

“In general AOPA believes that the updated policy is a much better treatment of existing residential through-the-fence access than the previous draft compliance guidance letter from October 2009,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy. He commended the FAA for “carefully and thoughtfully examining the input provided by the aviation community and for making field visits to better understand the nuances of RTTF access as it exists today.”

STATE AND LOCAL ACTION

 

Numbers:

1
The number of votes by which Vermont state Represenative-Elect Sarah Buxton won her election by this past November (882 to 881). Maybe every vote does count.

$41 Billion
The estimated total budget gap for states this next fiscal year.

18.5%
The gradient of Runway 4/22 at Courchevel Airport in the French Alps. The runway, which lies 6,588 feet above sea level, is 1,722 feet long.

1 Florida: No new state taxes in 2010

In what amounted to the toughest state economic environment AOPA has ever faced, numerous new state aviation tax increase proposals surfaced in 2010 in efforts to patch record budget deficits—yet none of them succeeded. In fact, the aviation tax liability in Florida was reduced this session with the correction of its once-infamous use tax on visiting aircraft. So what was the key to this success in the face of such strong headwinds?

“Grass-roots engagement among our membership—without question—was paramount to our success at the state level this year,” said AOPA Director of State Government Affairs Mark Kimberling. “GA had, unfortunately, been eyed as an easy target by many lawmakers, and as low-hanging fruit to squeeze out more revenue, even in states with the highest existing tax rates. Yet, when the going got tough, our members really got going as we called on them to get involved more than ever this year through our Action Alerts. This high level of grass-roots participation will be critical as we gear up for another potentially challenging year.”

2 Alaska: Anchorage drops aircraft tax increase from 2011 budget

Prompt political action by aviation supporters in Anchorage, Alaska, has resulted in municipal officials deciding to drop a proposed doubling of aircraft registration taxes from the 2011 budget.

Approximately 70 AOPA members attended a meeting of the Anchorage Assembly to voice their opposition; and numerous members of the Birchwood Airport Association, EAA Chapter 42, and the Alaska Airmen’s Association, also spoke out against the tax.

ASN volunteers Rob Stapleton of Birchwood Airport, Jim Cieplak of Merrill Field, and Dee Hanson of Lake Hood Airport all played key roles in organizing pilots to attend the assembly meeting.

AOPA member Bill Starr, who chairs the assembly’s budget and finance committee and serves on the Anchorage Economic Development Committee, provided key guidance in approaching his colleagues about the issue.

3 Ohio: Aviation caucus takes off

When discussing the history of flight, Ohioans are quick to assert that Kill Devil Hill, North Carolina, “merely provided the breeze and that Ohio provided the brains” for the historic 1903 flight, as the Wright brothers were natives of Dayton, Ohio. Today, Ohio boasts more than 170 public-use airports, more than 17,000 pilots, and numerous world-class aviation businesses and educational institutions based in the state. With such a rich aviation presence—past and present—State Sen. Jason Wilson is understandably determined to foster and protect this vital industry with his recent formation, in partnership with AOPA, of the Legislative Aviation Caucus.

“The benefits of general aviation—in supporting jobs, moving the economy, and providing vital services—touch every corner of Ohio, from our vast rural stretches to our major urban centers. It is, therefore, imperative for our diverse group of GA-friendly legislators to band together to foster and protect this critical industry in the 128th General Assembly—and beyond.”

4 Massachusetts: Regional rep honored for airport advocacy

During the 2010 FAA and MAMA (Massachusetts Airport Management Association) Joint Annual Conference, AOPA Northeast Regional Representative Craig Dotlo was awarded the FAA’s Vincent A. Scarnaro Legacy Award in recognition of his work as a “relentless and resourceful advocate for New England airports.”

Pilot-icians in Command

  • Rep. Mike Hubbard, an AOPA member, has been nominated to be the next speaker of the Alabama House.
  • Longtime GA advocate and AOPA member Rep. Michael Beard will take over as the Transportation Committee chairman in the Minnesota House this coming session.
  • Rep. Dean Cannon, pilot and an AOPA member, has officially assumed the speakership in the Florida House—an ever-important state for GA.

AOPA Airport Support Network

2011—The year to volunteer for AOPA?

The Airport Support Network (ASN) is at the heart of AOPA’s efforts to preserve airports. The ASN volunteers are 2,200 strong and we want you to join our mission—promote, protect, and defend airports.

You can make a difference and play an instrumental role in ensuring your airport’s long-term survival. Do you love flying and care about your airport? Do you keep in touch with fellow pilots? Do you know the airport management and FBO staff? If so, you would make an excellent ASN volunteer!

ASN volunteers are 2,200 strong, and we want you to join us.

The ASN staff at AOPA headquarters works with our volunteers providing guidance, resources, and advocacy assistance when airport issues arise. AOPA counts on ASN volunteers to help fight GA airport threats.

You will receive an ASN volunteer hat, polo shirt, lapel pin, and invitations to special events throughout the year. Additionally, our ASN volunteer kit is now an AOPA flash drive and keychain.

In 2010, we added 300 new ASN volunteers—our goal is one at each of the 5,190 public-use airports throughout the country. Will you join our team? Check out the website to learn more and find out if your home airport needs a volunteer!

AOPA MEMBERSHIP PRODUCTS

Savings made easy with the AOPA car rental discount program

If you’re renting a car from Alamo, Avis, Enterprise, or Hertz, be sure to use your AOPA discount code and save up to 25 percent. Plus, with money-saving coupons such as free rental days and upgrades, you can’t go wrong. Take advantage of this members-only benefit and you could see your AOPA membership pay for itself.

To ensure you’re receiving the AOPA car rental discount, make your reservation directly through the AOPA website. Can’t remember the discount code? No problem—when you reserve your car through the links provided the code is pre-filled for you. Not only will you save yourself some cash, a portion of what you spend will be returned to AOPA and reinvested to fund our efforts to maintain the freedom, safety, and affordability of general aviation. Go online for more details.

Air Safety institute

New ASI seminar: ‘Close Calls—Lessons Learned’

FREE AOPA ASF
SAFETY SEMINARS

January 10

Mesa, AZ

January 10

Reno, NV

January 11

Sacramento, CA

January 11

Tucson, AZ

January 12

Milpitas, CA

January 13

Santa Rosa, CA

January 24

Fort Worth, TX

January 24

San Diego, CA

January 25

Costa Mesa, CA

January 25

Houston, TX

January 26

Ontario, CA

January 26

San Antonio, TX

January 27

Austin, TX

January 31

Little Rock, AR

These programs are made possible by gifts from individual pilot donors to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Seminar dates are tentative. For final dates, please visit the Web site.

The Air Safety Institute is all about raising the bar to improve aviation safety through pilot education. That’s why ASI continues to bring you new and important safety programs packed with exciting and educative content, including interactive online courses, accident case studies, Real Pilot Stories, seminars, and webinars, to name a few.

Since accident prevention is a key element of improved safety, you’ll want to attend ASI’s upcoming safety seminar.

We know when we’ve made mistakes in flying; some are benign and easy to shake off, some so upsetting we don’t dare to speak about them. But in all cases the key is learning from those mistakes. Building on that principle, ASI has developed Close Calls: Lessons Learned—a new seminar in which real pilots share their harrowing stories with you through videotaped interviews. You’ll hear a flight instructor and his student tell the story of losing a prop in flight. A Mooney pilot talks of surviving a crash in Oregon. One pilot shares how he lost control when his VFR flight entered instrument meteorological conditions.

Whether you’re a student, instrument-rated, or a veteran pilot, the stories will provide precious insight in how to deal with and learn from others’ mistakes. Register online for the free seminar held in a location near you.

Navigate airspace with ASI online course

Wouldn’t it be nice to have “sky” signs guiding us through the airspace we fly in? Sure, some sophisticated cockpit displays are helpful in this regard. Yet it is our responsibility to thoroughly understand and apply the rules that govern the sky. Our personal safety and hard-earned certificates are at stake if we don’t.

The answer is to take the Air Safety Institute’s recently updated Know Before You Go: Navigating Today’s Airspace online course.

From basic chart interpretation to understanding temporary flight restriction areas to special flight rule areas, you’ll be armed with important navigation knowledge before takeoff. The course is chock-full of tips, animations, and interactive quizzes to help you stay safe and be alert. The course qualifies for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and the FAA Wings program.

Did you know? ASI’s Safety Spotlights

Having trouble finding ASI safety materials for a specific topic? Go online to find a collection of courses, safety advisors, and quizzes dealing with a subject of your choice. Safety Spotlights help you avoid wasting time searching. The spotlights have been recently updated, and ASI frequently adds new topics. Check out the new Bird Strike Spotlight.

It’s all in the cards

Remembering various airspace dimensions and depictions, including relevant regulations, can be a daunting task.

ASI has developed airspace flash cards to make it practical, even enjoyable, for pilots at any level to absorb and retain critical knowledge. The cards, which easily fit in a flight bag, include a color depiction of the airspace, a description of its characteristics, and a discussion question. Download the cards online.