AOPA Action

October 1, 1999

Survey Finds Students, New Pilots Undeterred By JFK Jr. Tragedy

An AOPA survey of student and low-time private pilots has found that new aviators are realistic but largely undeterred by the highly publicized John F. Kennedy Jr. accident.

"It's encouraging that these new aviators are taking this tragic accident for what it is, and not a reason to stop flying," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.

Some 84 percent of new pilots surveyed said that the accident had not increased their concerns about safety "at all" or had done so only "to a small extent," and the majority (61.5 percent) reported "not at all." Only 29.5 percent said the accident had been a "substantial" topic of discussion with loved ones and friends.

About 94 percent said the accident either caused no change in their commitment to become a pilot or had actually "somewhat" or "substantially" increased their commitment to flying.

Thirty-six percent of the group reported that the accident has caused them to want more instruction before becoming a pilot, but some 52 percent said "not at all." Of those planning to increase training, 55 percent cited instrument procedures, 31 percent night operations, 24 percent weather, and 18 percent flying over unusual terrain including overwater operations.

Fully 78 percent said the accident should cause no change, or only changes to a small extent, in current flight-training procedures. More than 84 percent said no change at all was required in FAA regulations on flight instruction or VFR flying.

Some 95 percent of these new pilots rated GA as either safe or very safe.

NY Times: All the GA News Not Fit to Print

Did you hear after the JFK Jr. tragedy that one in 300 GA aircraft crashed with fatalities last year? It's not true!

A nationally syndicated article in The New York Times cited a statistic arrived at by dividing the GA fleet by the number of fatalities, not the number of fatal accidents, thereby nearly doubling the occurrence of fatal crashes. The correct statistic is one in 534.

AOPA got a correction in The New York Times, but the damage was done nationwide. If you are asked, cite the error and the correct information.

AOPA Monitoring Potentially Far-Reaching FAA Action on T-34 Airworthiness

AOPA is monitoring the fast-changing fallout of April's catastrophic wing failure on a Beech T-34 Mentor used in simulated air combat.

Some speculate that initial speed and G-load restrictions could proceed to groundings and/or inspections that could later affect other Beech models. Forward spar cracks were found in the T-34 involved in the accident. Other theories are being proposed on combined (or "rolling") G-forces that would affect rear spars first, but now cracks are reportedly being found in both spars. Others dispute this. Proposed eddy-current spar inspections (and replacement of rivets with bolts in oversized holes) are being opposed as impossible or damaging to structure. Raytheon is studying airshow pilot Julie Clark's T-34, plus other nonaerobatic Mentors, and has called for grounding and inspections. The FAA has called in international experts who are familiar with aging-aircraft issues.

AOPA most recently learned that any effect on Bonanzas would encompass only those modified with T-34 wings.

According to FAA sources, one fix under consideration would use an STCd Baron spar as a replacement for a damaged front spar. Any possible rear-spar fixes/inspections would still apply. On the issue of emergency actions, AOPA said it would again urge the FAA to allow the public an opportunity to comment, citing the recent reversal of direct-to-final-rule action on the twin-Cessna exhaust AD as an example of valuable input on alternative means of compliance.

Charitable-Flight Drug-Testing Exemption Sought for AOPA Members

AOPA is asking the FAA for an AOPA-member exemption from FAA drug-testing requirements for charity flights.

"Aircraft rides benefiting charity are a well-established GA tradition," declared Dennis Roberts, AOPA vice president of government and technical affairs. "And asking a pilot to spend several hundred dollars to set up an FAA-approved drug-testing program for Sunday charity rides doesn't make sense."

The June 2 AOPA petition came after an FAA determination earlier this year that drug-testing requirements for commercial operations also applied to charity flights. Shortly after that ruling, AOPA President Phil Boyer appealed directly to FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, resulting in an expedited system for individual exemptions.

In its petition, AOPA asked that a blanket exemption for all AOPA members remain in effect while the FAA works out rulemaking that would provide permanent relief from the charity-flight drug-testing requirements.

Beech Fuel Selector Placard AD Withdrawn; AOPA Applauds 'Common Sense'

An FAA airworthiness directive requiring a new placard on fuel selectors in many Beech aircraft has been withdrawn.

The placard warned pilots that placing the fuel selector between detents could interrupt fuel flow. The AD resulted from reports of engine stoppage after several pilots incorrectly positioned the fuel selector.

In withdrawing the AD, the FAA agreed with AOPA that "normal operating and procedural information such as this should be handled through regular revisions to the airplane flight manual or pilot's operating handbook." Most importantly, the FAA noted that "by requiring a placard in an AD to convey normal operating information, the FAA reduces the pilots' sensitivity to true emergency information that should be conveyed by placards."

"I couldn't have said it better," said Dennis Roberts, AOPA vice president of government and technical affairs.

AOPA Weighs in Against Threatened Higher Fuel Prices

Possible big hikes in the cost of GA fuel and oil were averted in August when the Department of Commerce dismissed a petition by a group of independent oil producers that asked for stiff duties on imported oil. AOPA strongly opposed the petition.

"Speaking as the world's largest GA organization, we feel that approval of such duties would have a devastating economic impact on not only our members, but the entire GA industry," said Dennis Roberts, AOPA vice president of government and technical affairs. "Aviation fuels are our lifeblood."

GA aircraft comprise 96 percent of the total U.S. civilian air fleet.

FAA Withdraws New A&P Certification Requirements; Higher Maintenance Costs Averted

An FAA proposal for a two-tiered mechanic certification system is dead.

"This proposal was a solution looking for a problem," said Dennis Roberts, AOPA vice president of government and technical affairs. "We're glad that the FAA is going back to the drawing board."

AOPA had filed 22 pages of detailed objections to the proposal, saying that it was unneeded and would likely lead to higher costs for pilots and aircraft owners. The proposed FAR Part 66 would have created a costly web of certification, training, retraining, and notification requirements for GA mechanics.

AOPA also pointed out a simple solution: an update of the mechanic training curriculum under the existing FAR Part 65.

AOPA Says $100 Million Cessna Twin AD Too Costly, Too Complex

The proposed exhaust-system airworthiness directive on turbocharged Cessna twins could cost owners more than $100 million and adversely affect an entire sector of the U.S. economy, AOPA told the FAA in August.

While the FAA estimated an initial inspection cost of $4,340, many owners would be socked with exhaust-component replacement costs of up to $20,000 per aircraft. In addition, with just three FAA-designated locations for the required inspections, inspecting all 13,000 affected U.S. exhaust systems would take nine years.

"Many of our members told us that this AD would put them out of business," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "While we recognize the safety implications, the actions proposed by this AD are overly complex, may lead to additional safety problems, and will impose a financial hardship with little safety benefit."

AOPA noted that twin Cessna exhaust-system failures can be prevented by good maintenance, regular visual inspections, and exhaust-system pressure checks, and it endorsed an alternative AD proposed by the Cessna Pilots Association.

The action has been under consideration by the FAA for three years, but became instantly controversial in June when the FAA suddenly decided to issue it as an emergency AD without opportunity for public input. Immediate protests by AOPA and the Cessna Pilots Association convinced the FAA to allow a 30-day comment period.

In an unprecedented action, AOPA immediately mailed some 6,000 "Action Alerts" to all owners of Cessna 300- and 400-series turbocharged twins (except Model 337s), whether they were AOPA members or not. Based on those comments, AOPA challenged the FAA's contention that the proposed AD was not a "significant regulatory action."

Action in the States

AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer activity is italicized. For information on how you can help AOPA's efforts to save your local airport, visit www.aopa.org/asn/ on AOPA Online.

Colorado. Gunnison: Local pilots led by AOPA ASN volunteer Fred Peck have turned back an attempt to close the turf crosswind Runway 17/35. About 50 pilots explained the safety issues involved to the Gunnison County Board.

Florida. Bartow: A large residential community is being developed near the end of the primary instrument runway at Bartow Municipal Airport. AOPA ASN volunteer Terry White is working with local pilots and the airport administration to oppose the development. Pompano Beach: The FAA has canceled the only instrument approach for Pompano Beach Airpark because of trees growing into the approach path. AOPA ASN volunteer Bill Bahkle is working with the local chapter of the Florida Aero Club and the city council to trim the trees.

Idaho. Lewiston: AOPA ASN volunteer Dick Roberts has been appointed as an airport commissioner for the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Airport.

Illinois. Chicago: A Chicago Tribune online poll found The Friends of Meigs Field Open House the third most popular summer festival in Chicago. Even as a write-in candidate, the event beat out 75 other city events. Peoria: AOPA updated Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 563 on Chicago airspace issues, including efforts to keep Chicago's Meigs Field open beyond 2002.

Indiana. Gary: AOPA ASN volunteer William Berkley helped squelch rumored plans to close the Gary/Chicago Airport for a week to help stage aircraft used in the City of Chicago Air and Water Show in August.

Maine. Wiscasset: Organizers of an airport open house at Wiscasset Airport had help from AOPA ASN volunteer Ervin Deck; the successful event is expected to be the basis for future efforts to involve the community.

Massachusetts. Boston: AOPA is tracking legislative measures affecting pilots, including S.B.2000, a budget bill; H.B.547, for aircraft sales tax relief; H.B.3210, to allow tree clearing from airport approaches; H.B.4208, to transfer Worcester Airport to Massport; and H.B.3962, for funding transportation projects, including airports.

Michigan. Clare: A proposed requirement for $1 million in liability insurance for CFIs and others operating temporarily at Clare Municipal Airport was amended after AOPA ASN volunteer Dick Acker found no such requirements at surrounding airports. Jackson: AOPA ASN volunteer Chester Dziak is showing county commissioners the value of the Jackson County Airport in an effort to win fairer lease provisions for aircraft owners.

New York. Farmingdale: A meeting to help build aviation community support for Republic Airport included presentations by AOPA regional representative Rol Murrow and AOPA ASN volunteer Pete McWilliams. Williamson: AOPA ASN volunteer Eric Mehserle is using the AOPA Local Airports: Access to America video to help build relationships with the community for Williamson-Sodus Airport.

North Carolina. Charlotte: Plans for improving the GA ramp at Charlotte International Airport appear to be focused on the needs of high-end business users. AOPA is helping to form an airport support group to ensure that owners and pilots of lighter aircraft are fairly represented. Hendersonville: New ownership and management have given a lease on life to privately owned but public-use Hendersonville Airport, once in danger of closing. The field hosts the Western North Carolina Aviation Museum. Siler City: A 120-foot (agl) tower has been proposed slightly more than one mile east of Siler City Municipal Airport. AOPA ASN volunteer Dennis Hahn is investigating.

Oregon. S.B.108, which creates an independent Oregon Aviation Department, was signed by Gov. John A. Kitzhaber. AOPA supported the bill. Creswell: A housing development that would violate Hobby Field's compatible land-use plan has been proposed. AOPA ASN volunteer Dorothy Schick is working with local pilots, Oregon officials, and the FAA to discourage the development.

Rhode Island. Newport: Supporters of the Newport State Airport and Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) CEO Elaine Roberts used AOPA-supplied facts and figures to counter a suggestion from RIAC's own chairman that the airport didn't seem to deserve support. The AOPA video Local Airports, Access to America was shown.

Utah. Morgan: A yearlong effort by the Morgan County Pilots Association has resulted in repeal of an onerous airport ordinance. The Morgan County Council has invited pilots to take part in drafting a new, more user-friendly ordinance.

Vermont. Montpelier: AOPA joined leaders of other aviation groups to testify in support of a strong state aviation division at a special hearing of the Vermont House Transportation Committee, convened by Chairman Richard C. Pembroke on July 12.

Wisconsin. Burlington: AOPA ASN volunteer Gary Wells and the Burlington Municipal Airport Improvement Support Council have succeeded in extending Runway 11/29 by 700 feet and adding lighting and other improvements. Sturgeon Bay: AOPA ASN volunteer Dave Konkel will be monitoring some $830,000 in improvements at the Sturgeon Bay Door County Cherryland Airport to prevent any unnecessary inconvenience to airport users.

ATC, Customs Officials Answer AOPA Member Questions

AOPA members who called the toll-free AOPA Pilot Information Center with ATC and Customs questions in late July got even more help than they expected: Working air traffic controllers and U.S. Customs agents were sitting next to AOPA technical specialists and answering questions.

AOPA had invited the controllers and Customs agents to "get out of Washington" and talk directly to GA pilots. ATC and flight service personnel answered questions from July 19 through 21, and Customs agents staffed the phones on July 22. The event was an eyeopener for both sides; one controller commented that the AOPA staff had "the greatest scope of aviation knowledge that I've ever seen in one place."

"The Customs agents particularly got their share of complaints," said Aviation Services Manager Mike Brown, who coordinated the sessions, "but they were truly interested in what AOPA members were saying and were very candid about the shortcomings of the system. They seemed committed to improving customer service."

This was the second year for ATC participation on AOPA's toll-free Pilot Information Center, but the first for Customs agents.

Boyer Helps to Dedicate New Ninety-Nines Museum

AOPA President Phil Boyer helped The Ninety-Nines to dedicate their new museum at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City in July, taking the occasion to contrast the reasons that men and women want to become pilots.

Boyer cited recent research predicting that, in one demographic group, some 300,000 women and 900,000 men would be "very interested" in learning to fly. The projected number of women is far above the 6-percent proportion of women in today's pilot population.

Unlike men surveyed, women cited "practical" rather than "romantic" reasons for wanting to learn to fly, yet more than twice the percentage of men than women cited career aims. "This suggests that many women have not yet heard the lesson of The Ninety-Nines, that women today can build careers in aviation — as pilots or in any other role they want to play," said Boyer.

Boyer concluded by praising early women aviation pioneers, while noting new trailblazers such as Lt. Col. Eileen Collins — who, at that moment, was orbiting the earth in command of the space shuttle Columbia.

The new Ninety-Nines Museum of Women Pilots houses an aviation research library, oral histories on videotape, the Jessie Woods Photo Collection, and the personal memorabilia of Amelia Earhart, Louise Thaden, Hazel Jones, Jerrie Cobb, Edna Gardner Whyte, and Jackie Cochran, among others.

Rebates for AOPA Members' Aviation Purchases Now Exceed $2 Million

AOPA members have pocketed more than $2 million in rebates on AOPA credit card purchases of fuel, maintenance, flight training, aircraft rentals, and pilot supplies at qualifying FBOs.

The average participant saves $300 a year, almost eight times the $39 annual AOPA dues. Some 130,000 individuals carry an AOPA Visa or Mastercard.

The AOPA FBO Rebate Program returns 3 percent on purchases made with an AOPA Visa or Mastercard at any FBO that sells fuel and/or rents aircraft. Qualified locations include those listed with a 3% icon in AOPA's Airport Directory or AOPA's Airport Directory Online. Rebates are funded entirely by MBNA America, with no AOPA member dues or FBO contribution involved.

As an AOPA Certified program, each credit-card purchase returns a small royalty for AOPA programs to defend and strengthen GA — programs such as AOPA Project Pilot and the AOPA Airport Support Network.

AOPA Long-Term Care Program Accepting Applications

[ Note: This program is no longer available.]

AOPA's Long-Term Care Program, which provides coverage in the event of extended disability caused by old age, serious illness, or injury, is again available to AOPA members and their spouses, parents, and parents-in-law.

"Response to last year's Long-Term Care Program was so enthusiastic that we're offering it again," said Kelly Tomlin, program director. About six out of 10 people over age 65 will need long-term care, but younger people may also need extended care.

Underwritten by Hartford Life Insurance Company, the program is customized for AOPA members and their families. It is available in more than 35 states across the nation, with additional state approvals expected soon. All AOPA members with a valid FAA medical certificate are guaranteed acceptance.

As with any AOPA Certified program, Long-Term Care helps to keep your dues low and GA strong at no additional cost to you.

More information and enrollment materials are available by calling 888/343-5824 or by visiting the AOPA Web site.

AOPA Expo '99 in  Atlantic City Celebrates What's New; Honors AOPA's 60 Years

AOPA Expo '99 travels to the Northeast this year as AOPA's massive convention and trade show in the new Atlantic City Convention Hall welcomes some 450 exhibitors, 70 display aircraft, and 10,000 pilots and family members from October 21 through 23.

"We return to Atlantic City to celebrate both the sixtieth anniversary of AOPA's founding in the Philadelphia area and our active advocacy of new technology for GA's next century," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "This AOPA Expo — just 10 weeks before the year 2000 — will be our call to get ready for the future."

The Atlantic City venue, home of the FAA's Technical Center, will again emphasize new navigation and ATC systems for the future. General sessions each morning will examine key issues facing GA. On Thursday, October 21, a panel of top industry officials will address modernization of the FAA and the ATC system.

A special AOPA retrospective will highlight the October 21 opening luncheon, with special honors planned for longtime AOPA members. Charter members (who joined AOPA within one year of May 1939) will be AOPA's guests at the luncheon.

Friday morning, October 22, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey will face the AOPA membership and respond to pilot questions. The Saturday morning "Team AOPA" session will feature top association management on the issues and programs that AOPA is pursuing.

AOPA Expo '99 will feature three action-packed days and more than 90 hours of seminars for pilots, plus spouse activities, social events, and special activities (see the Expo schedule, p. 22).

For more information on AOPA Expo '99, call 888/GO-2-EXPO, or visit AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/expo/).

ACY to Host Expo Arrivals; Fly-In Procedures Available

Atlantic City International is the host airport for AOPA Expo '99, with full services for more than 700 aircraft and ground transportation available. Nearby Bader Field will host some 70 new aircraft in the static display, but it offers little, if any, space for transient aircraft, and no fuel or other services are expected to be available.

Other airport options include Ocean City and Hammonton, New Jersey. Pilots should verify ground transportation arrangements at those airports in advance.

Fly-in procedures are available on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/expo/).

U.S. Pilots Association Convention Will Feature AOPA President as Key Speaker

Under the banner "USPA Brings Boyer to Branson," the U.S. Pilots Association convention in Branson, Missouri, from October 14 through 17 will feature a Saturday night keynote address by AOPA President Phil Boyer.

USPA's meeting includes board, membership, and committee meetings; an FAA Wings safety seminar; plus sightseeing and shows in the nation's newest music capital.

The event concludes Saturday night, October 16, with the USPA banquet and the presentation by Boyer.

AOPA Online Now Offers Easy Access to Weather, Route Planning, and  AOPA's Airport Directory Online

A new service integrating online route planning, AOPA's Airport Directory Online, GTE DUATS, graphic weather charts, and flight-plan filing debuted in August on AOPA Online.

The Online Flight Planning Service is available exclusively to AOPA members via a home-page button (www.aopa.org), and it provides all basic flight-planning tools without the purchase of any additional software. "If you have access to any computer with a Web browser, you have 'one-stop shopping' for flight-planning information," said Seth Golbey, managing editor for AOPA Internet services. (For more information on the new service, see " Preflight Central," p. 113).

Airport Directory Set for January Delivery

The 2000 edition of AOPA's Airport Directory is currently in production. AOPA members who requested the annual publication on their renewal forms should expect to receive their copies by late-January. The 2000 edition will contain updated listings for some 5,300 public-use airports, seaplane bases, and heliports; more than 1,730 private-use airports; and nearly 5,000 FBOs and other airport businesses. The data is updated throughout the year on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/members/airports/).

AOPA AIR SAFETY FOUNDATION

Huge Crowd Attends Debut of New ASF Presentation on GPS for VFR Operations

The AOPA Air Safety Foundation's new presentation on "GPS for VFR Operations" drew an overflow crowd of more than 400 attendees at Oshkosh, despite the heat and humidity.

"GPS has become nearly indispensable," said ASF Vice President of Operations John Steuernagle, who conducted the seminar. "But in the hands of careless pilots, it can easily lead you into trouble." ASF is the only organization offering national seminars on the use of GPS in VFR operations.

The hourlong presentation provides an entertaining but serious look at the use — and misuse — of GPS in VFR flight operations. Humorous anecdotes include the story of a determined pilot headed for Cheyenne, Wyoming (CYS), who nearly ran out of gas blithely following GPS guidance toward CYT — which is in Yakataga, Alaska, nearly 2,000 miles away.

Seminar participants can test their GPS knowledge at the conclusion of the program with an entertaining quiz modeled after a popular TV game show.

ASF will now include "GPS for VFR Operations" in the regular schedule of safety seminars held around the country. A 16-page ASF Safety Advisor on GPS operation, issued earlier this year, is available free on the ASF Web site ( www.aopa.org/asf/publications/sa01.pdf). Single printed copies are also free on request by writing GPS Operations, AOPA Air Safety Foundation, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701.

1999 Holiday Cards Commemorate ASF's Fiftieth Anniversary

A unique collection of aviation-theme holiday greeting cards celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation is now available.

The cards, printed on high-quality recycled paper with vegetable-based inks, feature original works of art by such famed aviation artists as Ross Buckland, Nixon Galloway, Gene Galasso, John Fehringer, Valerie Pfeiffer, and Kristin Hill. Aircraft ranging from a Ford Tri-Motor to a Waco 10 and Noordyn Norseman are shown against beautiful seasonal backgrounds. Last year, more than 500,000 cards were purchased.

"What better way to enjoy the season than to help improve GA's safety record?" said ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg. "These original designs express your sentiment to friends and family, make a statement about your passion for flying, and help support a cause you care about." Royalties go to support ASF's nationally recognized free safety seminars. Last year, ASF conducted more than 250 such programs.

Some of this year's holiday card designs include:

  • Winter Landing, depicting a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver on floats approaching the warm glow of a cabin on a frosty mountain lake.
  • Perfect Holiday, featuring a Stearman near a farmhouse decorated for the holiday season.
  • Christmas Eve, ASF's special fiftieth-anniversary-edition card showing a Noordyn Norseman about to touch down on a glassy lake glistening in the light of a full moon. The card features an embossed silver foil border.
  • Santa's Arrival, an original cartoon of Santa in a biplane given clearance to land by a holiday flag-waving reindeer.

There are 14 designs in all, and boxes of 25 cards with envelopes range in price from $22 to $27. Personalized imprinting is free when ordering three or more boxes.

Cards may be ordered directly or by downloading the order form from the ASF Web site. A free packet of samples, or cards themselves, may also be ordered by calling 800/308-4285.

The last day to order for the 1999 holiday season is December 3.

ASF Burnside/McCAllister Winners Announced

Two university students have each won a $1,000 scholarship administered by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation and the University Aviation Association. Competitors for the scholarships submitted essays on how to improve GA training.

The 1999 McAllister Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Jason Gortney of Goshen, Indiana, a senior majoring in professional pilot technology at Purdue University. The 1999 Burnside Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Jason John-Stanley McMahon of Columbus, Ohio, a junior majoring in aviation-human factors at Ohio State University.

The McAllister Memorial Scholarship Fund was established in 1979 by friends of Eugene and Dorothy McAllister, enthusiastic pilots who devoted much of their lives to pilot training. The Donald Burnside Memorial Scholarship honors the aviation pioneer and cofounder of the Burnside-Ott Flight School in Florida.