October 1, 2012
By Kathy Dondzila
An all-new look at the way AOPA Summit is experienced kicks off the first of two keynote events in Palm Springs, California, October 11 through 13. Providing the catalyst for successful networking at the convention will be Thom Singer, author and entrepreneur, who will provide the tools for Summit attendees to make meaningful connections with fellow pilots and aviation experts. Singer is known as “The Conference Catalyst” for his ability to help convention-goers get the most out of their experience. Following Singer’s introduction, AOPA President Craig Fuller will moderate a fast-paced discussion on around-the-world flying experiences he and editors Tom Haines, Tom Horne, and Dave Hirschman have had recently. The “AOPA Adventures in Aviation” panel will discuss flying in Africa, France, Greenland, the Bahamas, and more at the opening keynote Thursday, October 11, from 8:30 a.m. until 10 a.m. Hirschman will also interview wounded war veteran and new sport pilot Adam Kisielewski. On Friday, October 12, the keynote will feature an interactive Pilot Town Hall meeting with Fuller and acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. They will provide updates on the state of the general aviation industry, as well as insights into how the upcoming election will impact GA flying. Friday’s keynote event runs from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m.
We believe in airports! Special information and events for airport managers and leaders will be available at AOPA Summit, Friday, October 12, at the Palm Springs Convention Center. For more details, visit the website.
Wednesday, October 10
Thursday, October 11
Friday, October 12
Saturday, October 13
Plus, special sessions for: New Products announcements and showcases; Pinch-Hitter; American Bonanza Society; Women in Aviation; California Pilots; Airport Managers; Flying Clubs; Active Military; International attendees.
by Mark Kimberling, AOPA director of state government affairs
It’s been almost four years since I joined AOPA’s Airport and State Advocacy team. Lehman Brothers had just collapsed, the stock market tanked just a few days before my wedding, and state budgets were in turmoil. As I somewhat nervously prepared to take this momentous leap in my career—and my life—a little more wind was taken out of my sails on my wedding day. A group of my closest confidants gathered to confess their belief that I was crazy to try to defend private aircraft in this economy—from state tax increases, no less. I recall one of the most honest prognosticators using the term bloodbath in his inspiring post-nuptial diatribe as he proceeded to spill his wine on my brand-new tie.
Nevertheless, a few weeks later, I forged into battle with the seasoned, respected, and talented government affairs team at AOPA, and the ultimate trump card: our active membership and other dedicated industry figures.
Things were tough at first, with significant aviation tax increase proposals popping up from Washington state to Connecticut. GA aircraft were even lumped into luxury tax bills with “fur coats and jewelry” in Illinois and Maryland—ouch! In addition to the potential damage to GA in each particular state, we knew that we were holding up a line of dominoes because of the pretty well-known fact that, well, states copy other states. A prime example is the fact that slot casinos are becoming as ubiquitous as McDonald’s.
Our team fought back with countless visits to state legislators as they simultaneously received a flurry of correspondence from our members. We were holding our ground, yet we knew we still had a bigger problem: a crisis of perception. Just as we thought things were settling, the “Occupy” movement threw a right hook with misleading Op-Eds about shiny jets adorned with golden toilets in support of heavy taxation. We stood firm, not only extolling the economic value of GA to policy makers, but also showing them—through airport tours and even a visit to our Summit from our foe-turned-friend the governor of Connecticut.
Things have started to turn for the better, with your help. To date, we have not only prevented all proposed state tax increases, but we have also secured a series of industry- stimulating tax breaks from Florida to Maine, and have several more in our sights. We also flipped the Michigan legislature from a fuel tax increase to a capture of the existing fuel taxes to increase much-needed funding for airports—thanks in part, to the great work of AOPA Regional Manager Bryan Budds.
Although that darn red wine stain never came out of my tie, serving as an ominous reminder of my wedding pep talk, my friends’ predictions, thankfully, have not come to pass. I am optimistic for the future of GA, and I hope you are as well—because we need your help through this fall and beyond.
Mark Kimberling is a certificated flight instructor, and has previous experience as a first officer for American Eagle and as an aide in the U.S. Congress.
by Kathy Yodice
Q.: What should a pilot do when the FAA wants “to talk”?
A.: Before responding to the FAA in any way, take the opportunity to reflect on what happened to cause the FAA’s inquiry and what your rights and options may be. Your instinct may be to tell the FAA everything you know and speculate about what happened, but this could be exactly the wrong thing to do.
If a response is required or warranted, the response you give to the FAA should be appropriate in scope, truthful, and not misleading. In most cases, you have no obligation to say or provide anything to the FAA. In those limited circumstances when you are required to respond to the FAA, there is usually an opportunity to prepare a proper response. If you are a participant in AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services, which includes the Legal Services Plan, you are entitled to legal consultation for any alleged FAA violations.
If an emergency requires a pilot to deviate from the regulations, or results in a controller giving the pilot priority, then FARs 91.3(c) and 91.123(d) require that the pilot submit a written statement to the FAA, but only if requested to do so by the FAA. If the FAA does not request a report, there is no requirement to submit one.
If a reasonable request is made by the FAA to see your pilot certificate—including your medical certificate and photo ID—or to see your pilot logbook, or to see your aircraft maintenance records, then FARs 61.51(i) and 91.417(c) require that you make this information available (although pilot and aircraft logbooks do not immediately need to be presented).
In addition, although not specifically requiring presentation, FAR 91.203 requires that you carry on board your aircraft an appropriate and current airworthiness certificate and a valid U.S. registration certificate. So, if you’re operating an aircraft and an FAA inspector inspects your aircraft, the regulation requires that these documents be accessible to passengers or crew, effectively creating a presentation requirement.
There is no requirement to answer the FAA and give them any information, and there is nothing the FAA can do in action against you for failing to respond. Should an FAA inspector send you a letter of investigation and you write back; if an FAA inspector calls you and you speak with him or her; or a controller asks you about a possible deviation and you discuss this with him or her, be aware that any information that you provide will be used in the FAA’s investigation of the matter.
So, if there is a dispute as to the facts, or if the FAA might have some trouble establishing some necessary element of proof, you’ll want to think hard about what to say or what not to say.
We want to trust the FAA to help guide us and to do the fair thing when something happens, but that sometimes takes a little thinking and a little planning on our part to be sure we’re not making matters worse for ourselves.
Kathy Yodice is an aviation attorney for AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services and Legal Services Plan. She’s assisted AOPA members for more than 13 years and is a former FAA attorney. She owns a Cherokee 180 and has been a pilot since 1994.
Looking for a pilot community? One that includes flying and a lot more—where pilots and their families are involved socially with other aviation enthusiasts? Do you wish you could own your own airplane so you could fly whenever you wanted to, but the cost of individual ownership is just too high? A flying club may be the answer. Club members have access to well-maintained aircraft at reasonable prices, as well as a social network for themselves and their families, including students and pilots not currently flying. Many clubs also provide information and education to the local community. AOPA is building a national network of affiliated flying clubs with benefits for pilots, the aviation industry, and the clubs. Find out more in this month’s online Answers for Pilots ( www.aopa.org/members/answers1012). Or call AOPA Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time, 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672).
by Janet Bressler
Brokers are the most common option for securing aviation insurance. Brokers deal with multiple insurance companies and shop those available markets to obtain the best coverage and value available for their clients. They then walk you through those options to help you choose the best policy for the type of flying you do. Their breadth of knowledge needs to span the insurance forms of all the companies with which they do business, to clearly explain any differences to you so you can make a knowledgeable decision. Brokers serve as your advocate in negotiating coverage and premium, as well as helping you navigate the claims process—they work for you.
Agents are defined as those who sell insurance for just one company. True agents are extremely rare in the aviation insurance world. The term “agent,” however, is used interchangeably with “broker” in the industry, so don’t let that lead you to false conclusions. Many brokers even refer to themselves as agents simply because it is the most familiar and least confusing label to the majority of us.
Then we have direct writers, who offer you only themselves as a single option. In aviation there is currently only one insurance company that a consumer is able to contact directly to purchase coverage. The rest operate through the broker network. Despite the typically lesser coverage provided through aviation’s direct writer and the myth that buying direct saves you money, there are times when they may be the right partner for you. Significant downsides to purchasing your insurance through a direct writer include lack of choice and the absence of an advocate if you happen to suffer a loss. The underwriters, service staff, and claims adjusters for a direct writer work for the insurance company—not for you.
My recommendation is that you first work with an aviation specialty insurance broker before you resort to a direct writer. Nearly every time you will find better service, better pricing, and better value for your investment.
Janet Bressler, a private pilot, is an aviation insurance professional with more than 17 years of experience.
The new AOPA Accidental Death and Dismemberment Group Insurance Plan has been expanded beyond the cockpit to provide you 24/7 coverage without any increase in cost. Plus, you’ll receive added benefits to help pay tuition, child care, and more. And since it’s from AOPA you can rest assured that you’re protected when you’re flying. Benefits cover general aviation pilots of all levels of flying, including student pilots. Apply online today for up to $300,000 of AOPA Accidental Death and Dismemberment Benefits at our affordable group rates. There is no obligation and if you decide the plan isn’t for you, just let us know in the first 30 days. We’ll promptly refund your premiums, no questions asked. You have nothing to lose and peace of mind to gain.
People change as time passes. These changes can be subtle—but do we give them the attention they really deserve? Join ASI in a fun, fast-paced look at that question, and explore different ways you can maintain the same high level of safety over a lifetime of flying. Visit the website ( www.airsafetyinstitute.org/seminars) for dates and locations near you.
You’ve heard the news and seen the products, but there’s a good bit more to ADS-B than meets the eye—er, avionics. Most important, how will ADS-B affect you?
Let the Air Safety Institute help clarify in its new online course, ADS-B for General Aviation: The Basics ( www.airsafetyinstitute.org/ADS-B). Developed in collaboration with the FAA, the course spells out what this new technology will mean for you and the way you fly. An in-depth discussion on ADS-B allows you to discover all its benefits and what you should know before making any changes to your aircraft’s avionics. The course includes a downloadable reference guide to help you decide how—or if—you should implement this new approach to air traffic control.
Keeping Airport Support Network volunteers informed and inspired—and recruiting new members—is critical to the program’s success. So, this year at AOPA’s Aviation Summit the ASN team is working to create two such opportunities: one at the annual meeting of volunteers, and another for non-volunteer members who want to learn more about the ASN program.
Volunteers will have a chance to hear from aviation industry leaders as well as AOPA President Craig Fuller and others on the AOPA Government Affairs team. The meeting is certain to provide attendees with up-to-date information on AOPA’s activities and advocacy, as well as other useful insights and information. Also planned is an informal “meet-up” session, where airport supporters can learn more about the ASN program and how they can get involved.
In addition to the annual ASN meeting during Summit, AOPA has declared Friday, October 12, as “Airports Day” at Summit, and will host a series of special informative sessions designed for airport managers, leaders, and advocates. As AOPA staff hosts the sessions, industry experts will offer guidance, expertise, and access to resources to help everyone at the airport work together to promote healthy, well-managed airports. Check out the Summit schedule ( www.aopa.org/summit) to discover when and where, and we hope to see you at one of our sessions.
UAS in the USA: Enter the unmanned zone
If you’d believe the news, you’d be convinced that small, homebuilt unmanned aircraft are haphazardly overtaking the National Airspace System (NAS) without any boundaries or rules. That’s far from the truth. Sure, there are innovative commercial designs making the news. But, in reality, it takes more than a backyard, gizmo, and remote control to make the transformation from the design lab into the NAS.
Yet, as numerous unmanned aircraft systems return from combat in the Middle East, military training operations in the United States are expected to increase dramatically in the near future. And with this proliferation of UAS, unfettered NAS access—as opposed to expanding special-use airspace—would allow military UAS pilots to train and stay proficient.
But, what are UAS and how will they impact general aviation? Can manned and unmanned aircraft safely share the airspace? Answers can be found in the Air Safety Institute’s new course, Unmanned Aircraft and the National Airspace System ( www.airsafetyinstitute.org/UAS). The course was developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense.
Where does the time go? The summer is over, and the holidays are just around the corner. But you can beat the shopping crowds with a special aviation-themed gift. How? You’re passionate about flying. Be passionate about giving, and get something in return. Send AOPA Foundation holiday cards that show your support for the AOPA Foundation. And, start filling empty stockings with wonderful jigsaw puzzles, ornaments, and note card collections to be used beyond the holidays. Your gift puts smiles on the faces of your family and friends, while you help fund critical work in support of general aviation’s future.Don’t wait until the last minute. Place your order today. You’ll receive free personalized return address labels and decorative envelope seals with each purchase.
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AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.