December 5, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
AOPA will participate with representatives of local pilots and other stakeholders in discussions with the FAA this month about safety of flight issues at Pearson Field in Vancouver, Wash.
The risk management panel was expected to hold its first discussions the week of Dec.10. By calling the meetings, the FAA is following up on its agreement in October to delay imposing an airspace procedure on flights using the general aviation airport that is located just northwest of Portland, Ore. International Airport.
“The FAA has indicated that they intend to perform due diligence, ensure that all issues are brought to the table, and involve local users in the process,” said Melissa McCaffrey, AOPA senior government analyst for air traffic services.
“That is what AOPA advocated for in our discussions and a formal letter to the FAA--a commitment for outreach to the aviation community,” she said.
AOPA reported Sept. 27 that when news of the proposed airspace procedure was first made public shortly before the planned effective date, few pilots had been made aware of its provisions.
Citing safety concerns, AOPA and other organizations urged that any action be delayed because of the risks inherent in the short notice and the lack of pilot awareness of impending changes.
Members of both Oregon and Washington’s Congressional delegations responded to the outcry from the aviation community, asking the FAA not to move forward. Senators from both states also urged the FAA in a Washington, D.C., meeting to pursue a more open decision making process.
The meetings now planned between the FAA and the stakeholders it will ask to participate as panelists will “help paint a better picture of where this is headed moving forward,” McCaffrey said.
The movement to exempt thousands of general aviation pilots from the third class medical certification process is gaining momentum in Congress and the aviation community.
The recent warrantless stops and searches of law-abiding pilots on general aviation flights have drawn the attention of mainstream media.
The National Aeronautic Association has awarded the Collier Trophy for “the first unmanned, autonomous air system operating from an aircraft carrier.”
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