July 27, 2012
By Ian J. Twombly
The annual National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) breakfast at EAA AirVenture was supposed to be about announcing achievements from the past year, and to talk about the year moving forward. But Mel Cintron, head of the FAA’s general aviation and commercial division of flight standards, stole the show.
Although his remarks were brief, Cintron left no question as to what he considers to be the flight instructor’s role in the larger aviation community. “There is no other group that has the power to influence safety,” he said. “To me, GA is the base of all aviation in America.” Cintron is a helicopter pilot who has surrounded himself with passionate and active GA pilots and flight instructors.
Although the FAA’s charter no longer includes the requirement to promote aviation, Cintron and his division understand their role in helping to nurture and strengthen the community. “How do I get the accident rate down without stifling [aviation],” he said.
NAFI Executive Director Jason Blair spoke about many of the group’s achievements over the past year, including its part in recommendations to improve the FAA knowledge test. AOPA also participated on the advisory committee that sent guidance to the FAA.
The next stop is Putrajaya, Malaysia, on May 17 and 18 for the 2014 Red Bill Air Race World Championship, following an “electrifying” contest in Rovinj, Croatia.
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 memory of a passenger who perished in an April 1945 airline accident continues to drive an effort to recognize notable achievements in aviation safety.
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