May 25, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
With a moratorium that protects California flight schools from costly regulatory burdens set to expire July 1, AOPA and its legislative partners are working to assure a smooth transition to a permanent solution.
The California Senate took an important step toward that goal May 23, passing Senate Bill 619, that would exempt flight instructors and flight schools “that provide flight instruction pursuant to Federal Aviation Administration regulations and meet certain criteria” from provisions of the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009. Providers of flight training are temporarily exempt from the act under a measure that allowed more time for working out a permanent fix.
The Senate passed the bill, sponsored by state Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) on a 39-0 vote. It now moves to the California Assembly, where AOPA is working closely with another sponsor, Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo).
“We are on track to get this problem fixed, and the Senate vote demonstrates strong support for a solution,” said AOPA California Regional Representative John Pfeifer.
The exemption would apply to flight instructors or flight schools that do not require students to enter into written or oral contracts of indebtedness; that do not require prepayment of tuition or fees; and that do not accept payment of tuition or fees in excess of $2,500.
Pfeifer testified April 25 that the “onerous and expansive” fees and reporting requirements of the 2009 law would have put many flight training enterprises out of business. Students of those institutions did not face the financial risks that the act was intended to address, he and other aviation professionals explained in their testimony.
With the moratorium’s end drawing near, the effort to win final passage for the bill includes assuring that flight training providers will not encounter any problems resulting from the close timing, Pfeifer said.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
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