AOPA Action

What AOPA is doing to keep you flying

June 1, 2012

State and Local Action

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The distance, in miles, from any point in Maryland to reach a bordering state.

Maryland aircraft luxury tax fails—for now

Maryland’s legislative session ended abruptly without action taken on a luxury surtax on aircraft that AOPA opposed as a loser for pilots and aviation businesses. However, the possibility of a special legislative session remains to work out unresolved budget issues that could bring this and other tax proposals back into play. House Bill 1345 would add a 1-percent luxury surtax on purchase amounts above $36,000 on “motor vehicles, boats, and airplanes,” or $350 plus 2 percent of amounts above $90,000. This would add a staggering $12,398 in additional luxury taxes to the purchase of a new Cirrus SR22 in Maryland, on top of the existing $37,194 in traditional state sales taxes. Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy, and Mark Kimberling, AOPA director of state government affairs, spoke in opposition to the bill, presenting examples of how it could place Maryland’s aviation businesses at a competitive disadvantage with counterparts in other states and drive aircraft across state lines. Kimberling, a Maryland native and pilot, emphasized that aircraft are “mobile assets” that owners would not hesitate to relocate to escape onerous taxes. He specifically listed Maryland airports that could lose tenants—and service revenue—to nearby airports across state lines in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Kimberling added that no state legislature has moved forward with a luxury tax of this nature after careful consideration of the ramifications—although there has been no shortage of these proposals nationwide “because of a troubling combination of continued state revenue shortages and a persisting fundamental misperception of the general aviation industry.”

MEMBERSHIP PRODUCTS

'We've got your back'

The AOPA Legal Services Plan and the AOPA Medical Services Program have merged under a new program. AOPA Pilot Protection Services provide AOPA members broader protection, better information, and more value. AOPA Pilot Protection Services cover attorney fees and legal consultation with a qualified aviation attorney when your pilot certificate is threatened. And AOPA’s medical certification specialists provide assistance with FAA-related medical issues to keep you flying longer.

The $39 Basic level provides essential private pilot coverage under the Legal Services Plan; airmen medical application status checks; archived video and web content for participants only; and health and wellness discounts. The $99 Plus level offers Legal Services Plus, with expanded Private (Plus), Commercial Plus, and ATP Plus coverage; airmen medical records review and airmen medical application status check; archived video and web content for participants; and health and wellness discounts.

Participants will receive access to information, tips, and insight from top industry experts, including John Yodice, aviation lawyer and author of AOPA Pilot’s “Pilot Counsel” column; Kathy Yodice, former FAA attorney; Ron Golden, aviation legal expert; Gary Crump, AOPA’s director of medical certification; Jonathan Sackier, a surgeon with more than 30 years of experience in healthcare and author of AOPA Pilot’s “Fly Well” column; and Warren Silberman, former manager of the FAA aerospace medical certification department.

Bank of America finances Marine's first aircraft

“All my toys as a kid were airplanes; I took my first ground school at age 12,” says AOPA member Gabriel Glinsky. Glinsky started looking for an airplane to buy when he was deployed to Afghanistan. As a Marine Corps captain and V–22 pilot, he was looking for a GA airplane to use for pleasure flights when he returned home. He had never bought an airplane before, and didn’t quite know what to expect when it came to financing. “I filled out the form for Bank of America financing online,” he says. “Actually, there was very little paperwork.”

Glinsky selected a 1967 Cherokee 180. “I was a flight instructor before I became a Marine, and I love the way Cherokees look, and I love the way they fly. I picked an aircraft with a fixed gear and a fixed prop, thinking that would be two less things to break. It’s simpler and slower, but costs a whole lot less.”

Glinsky teaches a ground school at Marine Corps Air Station New River North Carolina. He has a class of 35 Marines, and said that four or five of his ground school students are talking about buying an airplane together. “I am thinking about starting a flying club here for the Marines so we’d purchase a couple of airplanes for the club. My CO and XO are looking to buy an airplane, too, so I’ve sparked a ton of interest.”

As for his experience with Bank of America, he says, “They made it a pretty painless process.”

INSURANCE FILE

Don't sign your life away

I will tell you right up front, this story does not have a happy ending. What it does have is a true tale of what can happen when you decide you’ll agree to sign anything to fly the airplane of your dreams.

A seasoned pilot found himself with an opportunity to fly a 1970s-era jet-powered military training aircraft—not an aircraft he’d ever flown before or likely would ever have the chance to fly again. The owner presented the pilot with an agreement to sign stating that the pilot would be responsible for any damage to the aircraft and any liability arising from his flight. Without calling his insurance broker or attorney for a quick opinion, the pilot signed the agreement and jumped into the cockpit. Insurance is rarely the first thing that comes to mind when we have the chance to fly something this special, but the outcome might have been averted with a phone call.

You’ve probably already guessed: The pilot crashed, destroyed the aircraft, and lost his life. The sad story does not stop there. The pilot’s aircraft insurance policy on his personal aircraft did provide nonowned-aircraft insurance coverage; however, there was a provision that required the aircraft being flown to have a Standard airworthiness certificate—the jet trainer was Experimental. Coverage was not triggered to provide his widow defense costs for the lawsuit filed by the aircraft owner, who sought a seven-figure sum for loss of the aircraft and revenue from its future rental.

That single call by the pilot to his insurance broker would have both highlighted the uninsured risk in the agreement as well as given the broker an opportunity to try and find coverage or help the pilot negotiate with the aircraft owner on the terms of the agreement.

You may not be looking to fly a rare aircraft, but having your insurance broker (and AOPA Pilot Protection Services attorney ) look over all your contracts related to your aircraft and your flying is a very good practice.

Janet Bressler, a private pilot, is an aviation insurance professional with more than 17 years experience.

Renters: Spring flying season is here

Now that spring is here and summer’s on its way, more and more of us will be taking to the skies. The cost of aircraft renter’s insurance is affordable for AOPA members, thanks to the efforts of AOPA and the AOPA Insurance Agency. AOPA members will receive a 5-percent discount on renters’ insurance policies, allowing members to obtain a comprehensive package for as little as $99 a year.

Because many of us do not own an aircraft and need to rent or borrow to start our spring flying, providing affordable insurance products for renter pilots was a major goal of the AOPA Insurance Agency.

“As the largest light aircraft insurance agency in the country, representing nearly 400,000 member pilots, we worked with a major A-rated underwriter to offer our members more affordable premiums,” said AOPA Insurance Agency Senior Vice President Brenda Jennings. “The 5-percent discount applies to both new and renewing policies. Plus, members renewing their renters’ policies can take advantage of an additional 10-percent discount if they were claim- and accident-free during the previous policy year.”

Visit the AOPA Insurance Agency online to apply and purchase your renter’s insurance policy or call 800-622-2672 for more information.

AIR SUPPORT NETWORK

Airport saved from encroachment

A battle to protect North Carolina’s Currituck County Regional Airport from residential encroachment ended in the establishment of a buffer around the airport. Concerns over potential for noise complaints led county commissioners to seek a zoning overlay that would limit residential development in the vicinity of the airport.

County planners crafted an FAA-supported Airport Overlay District plan, which faced opposition from property owners who wanted no restrictions placed on their property. The plan was also resisted by property owners who did not face zoning changes.

AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Mack McKinney and AOPA member Mark Leuzinger explained why airplanes must fly low as they approach the airport,and also discussed how all local pilots were voluntarily practicing flying-friendly procedures to minimize their noise footprints for local residents. The testimony of the AOPA members swayed commissioners and a three-zone Airport Overlay District, with zoning changes, passed unanimously.

Kathy Dondzila

Kathy Dondzila | Manager, Technical Communications, Pilot Information Center

Technical Communications Manager, Kathy Dondzila, joined AOPA in 1990 and is an instrument-rated private pilot.