News and notes: Lower taxes equal more jobs

GA celebrates big win in Indiana

November 1, 2013

aopa actionThe evidence is clear: Lower taxes on general aviation really do create jobs, as business and political leaders in Indiana are finding out. New pro-GA legislation, which eliminated a 7-percent sales tax on aircraft parts and labor, and lowered the state sales tax on aviation fuel by more than 40 cents per gallon moved Indiana from the state with the highest fuel tax rate in the nation to a competitive position just below the national average.

“We added a second shift,” said Matt Hagans, CEO of Eagle Creek Aviation Services in Indianapolis. “If this bill didn’t get passed, we were looking at shipping people down to our Florida operation. These jobs would have left the state.”

Eagle Creek is not the only business that’s growing just weeks after the law was passed. At a nearby Beechcraft facility, hiring is up 75 percent and more new jobs are expected in 2014, said Marty Becker, who leads the operation.

“I’m proud to say that at Beechcraft, we’ve added a lot of people because of this law,” Becker said.

Before the legislation, aircraft operators were saving money by leaving Indiana to buy fuel or make repairs.

“People would go to a different state,” said Brian Bosma, speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives. Bosma noted that other states—including Ohio, New York, Maine, Oklahoma, and Florida—had previously enacted tax cuts, making it imperative for Indiana to follow suit.

Bosma and Senate leader Brandt Hershman—key sponsors of the tax-relief bill—were awarded AOPA Presidential Citations for their work in support of general aviation.

“Comprehensive legislative reform of this nature is an extremely challenging undertaking, and this successful outcome would not have been possible without the work of these legislative leaders,” said AOPA Director of State Government Affairs Mark Kimberling. Kimberling and AOPA Regional Manager Bryan Budds worked with local allies for nearly a year to build support for the measure in partnership with Hershman and Bosma.

AOPA is engaged in similar efforts in other states with high taxes on fuel and maintenance.

“In many places, state taxes are far higher than federal taxes, and that adds significantly to the cost of flying,” Kimberling said. “We are actively working to lower those state tax burdens and make GA flying more affordable.”

AOPA advocates for its members to:

  • Promote, protect, and defend America’s community airports.
  • Maintain sufficient state and local funding for GA airports and infrastructure.
  • Prevent excessive state taxation on flying.
  • Protect GA from unnecessary state and local regulation.

AOPA ACTION: WHAT AOPA IS DOING TO KEEP YOU FLYING

AOPA asks FAA to withdraw proposed cylinder AD

AOPA, the American Bonanza Society, Cessna Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, National Air Transportation Association, Savvy Aircraft Maintenance Management Inc., and the Twin Cessna Flyer organizations have asked the FAA to withdraw a proposed airworthiness directive (AD) affecting Engine Components International (ECi) cylinders used as aftermarket replacements on thousands of Continental Motors 520- and 550-series engines. The groups are asking the FAA to withdraw its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) and provide the data and analysis justifying the proposed AD. And they are asking the FAA to give pilots and the industry an additional 120 days to respond. The FAA estimates the proposed AD would cost $82.6 million and affect 6,000 aircraft with certain Airmotive Engineering Corp. replacement cylinder assemblies marketed by ECi. The groups are concerned that costs could go much higher and that the replacement of thousands of cylinders in the field could compromise, rather than enhance, pilot safety. The proposed AD recommends the repetitive inspection and early retirement of affected cylinders. It would also prevent new installations of the cylinders in question.

FAA finalizes aircraft privacy policy

The FAA has finalized a privacy policy allowing aircraft owners and operators to opt out of public dissemination of flight-tracking data. The policy was mandated by Congress after the FAA imposed tougher requirements in 2011 for restricting aircraft registration data used by a variety of third-party flight tracking services, prompting protest from the aviation community. AOPA joined the National Business Aviation Association in protesting the 2011 decision to require owners or operators to provide justification to block the release of near-real-time flight tracking data (based on aircraft registration and radar data) that allowed virtually anyone with a computer to follow an aircraft’s travels. The policy took effect September 20.

The FAA provides radar tracking data to vendors through its Aircraft Situation Display to Industry (ASDI) program, and owners or operators can request that aircraft data be blocked by contacting the FAA via email or by regular mail (FAA ASDI Blocking Request, ATO System Operation Services, AJR-0, Wilbur Wright Building, Room 3E1500; 600 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20597).


Don’t wait to teach new city officials about your airport

When new local officials are elected, make sure they understand the value of your airport. In Texas, Christopher Gilmore, the ASN volunteer at Lockhart Municipal Airport (50R) since 2001, serves as AOPA’s eyes and ears there. Through his years as a volunteer, Gilmore knows you have to work at educating new city officials, and he has worked to make the airport sponsor fully aware of the benefits of the airport to the community. With recent changes to Lockhart’s city council, Gilmore reached out to AOPA Airport staff to gather information on the economic value of his airport, to show new city council members how the airport benefits their community. Gilmore also wanted to obtain support for a proposed zoning change for airport property that would be leased to generate revenue. John Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy, provided specifics from TxDOT’s Economic Impact Study, AOPA’s It’s Your Airport brochure, and materials from the Airport Cooperative Research Program’s guidebook for training new part-time airport decision makers and best practices for increasing airport revenue—as the Council is concerned about the airport not being a drain on limited city resources. Gilmore’s efforts are a great example of why it pays to be engaged with the local decision makers, because the education about the value of GA never stops.

On the web: www.aopa.org/Advocacy/Get-Involved/AOPA-Resources-for-You.aspx


AOPA Aviation summit suspended indefintely

AOPA has decided to suspend its annual Aviation Summit in favor of reaching more members “where they fly.” Summit in October was held as scheduled. The association plans to redirect the time and resources previously spent on Summit to meeting members at community airports and hosting more grassroots events. In 2014, AOPA will host a series of enhanced pilot town hall meetings and fly-ins. These Saturday events will give members a chance to meet AOPA President Mark Baker and other AOPA leaders, participate in educational forums, and enjoy a burger or hot dog on AOPA. More details will be released as they are available.


The R in AROW

By Talbot Martin, AOPA Pilot Protection Services

Aircraft owners should know by now that the FAA has largely done away with aircraft registration certificates that have no expiration date. Registration certificates now will expire three years after issuance. This should prompt a change in preflight inspection procedures to ensure compliance with the law on each and every flight.

Take a moment to think about the preflight inspection acronym we all are familiar with, AROW (or ARROW depending on when you learned it)—“A”irworthiness Certificate, “R”egistration, “O”perating Handbook, and “W”eight and Balance Data. The check of the registration certificate needs more than just a glance to see that it is in the aircraft. A pilot should verify that the N-number matches what is painted on the side of the aircraft and is printed on the airworthiness certificate, and every pilot now needs to verify that the registration certificate has not expired. While it is tempting to think this is a no-big-deal paperwork item, be warned—the operation of an unregistered aircraft is a violation of the regulations and statutes of the United States and therefore can subject the unwary pilot to an FAA enforcement action, and subject the aircraft to seizure by and forfeiture to the U.S. federal government. That’s right, if you are caught flying an unregistered aircraft, there is the possibility that the aircraft will be seized—a very expensive mistake to make.

If you regularly fly different aircraft, get in the habit of looking at the airworthiness certificate and registration certificate prior to every flight to ensure they both match the registration markings painted on the aircraft, and that the registration is not expired. If an aircraft is regularly flown by only one pilot, I recommend putting a dispatch sheet somewhere convenient in the cockpit which contains information about due dates of the next (as applicable) annual or condition inspection, transponder and pitot-static checks, airworthiness directives, oil changes, and registration renewal. While you’re at it, you could include pilot information as well; think medical certification, 90-day currency, instrument currency or checks, and flight reviews. Then, add this check to your preflight checklist and review it prior to every flight.

Talbot Martin, associate and CFI at Yodice Associates, regularly counsels members of AOPA’s Legal Services Plan on a variety of issues including FAA enforcement aircraft accidents.


Thanksgiving Trip Planned? Don’t be a turkey

It comes upon us so fast every year, and this year is no different—holiday time is here! Our busy schedules stretch to include celebration dinners, special events, and time spent with family and friends. It’s wonderful! It’s memorable! It’s exhausting! Our stress levels skyrocket. If you are planning a family trip, it’s natural to focus more on the family than on the flying, but that distraction can lead to accidents. So, take time to balance the excitement with extra caution. Read tips for safe holiday flights in November’s Answers for Pilots (www.aopa.org/answersforpilots).


Need a second opinion?

flight risk evaluator mobile appThe Air Safety Institute’s Mobile Flight Risk Evaluator helps you make those tough go/no-go decisions.

Have you ever struggled to decide whether an upcoming flight is safe for you? Maybe you’ve searched for one more piece of information that would seal the deal on a go/no-go decision? The trouble is that we can be prone to overestimate our abilities to navigate tricky situations, and that optimism can come at a high cost.

To help make the safest choice when it comes to that murky area of Am I up to making this flight? the Air Safety Institute has taken the features of its popular online Flight Risk Evaluator and put that power in the palm of your hand.

The Mobile Flight Risk Evaluator, available for your iPhone, iPad, or Android device, takes into account your pilot experience, aircraft capabilities, weather, and airport conditions to create an objective look at how safe any particular flight is for you. Designed to help you make those tough calls while removing the pressure of the mission from the decision-making process, the app provides safety recommendations by highlighting flight segments that are within your capabilities, and alerting you to those that might be unsafe.

It only takes a few minutes to enter flight-specific data, and you can email the results from your device. Having a record of flight conditions before you make your decision can help you develop your own set of personal minimums for future reference. Visit the website (www.airsafetyinstitute.org/apps/flightrisk) to review FAQs and download the application, or access the app directly from your device by visiting the Google Play or iTunes stores.


ASI takes on winter weather worries with ‘Ice Week’

ice weekBefore cold temperatures and icy drizzle thoroughly chill the sky this winter, it’s a good idea to fire up your computer and participate in the Air Safety Institute’s “Ice Week” from November 3 through November 9. Each day during Ice Week, learn how to combat debilitating precipitation and icing phenomena—and how to avoid treacherous icing encounters.

You may already know why any amount of structural icing is dangerous—even a little bit—or that the top of the clouds may hold the worst icing. But did you know that almost half of all icing-related accidents happened to pilots with more than 1,000 hours total time? Heed the warning: Experience grants no immunization when it comes to icing. Let ASI be your guide to its terrific free resources on this topic, such as videos, courses, quizzes, accident case studies, and real pilot stories.

Register for ASI’s Ice Week live webinar to be held on Wednesday, November 6, at 7 p.m. Eastern time (www.airsafetyinstitute.org/iceweek).


Nonowner’s Insurance: Add it to your checklist

This article also appears in Membership News.

John felt the airplane rock under the influence of a gusting north wind as he rolled into position for takeoff on Runway 27. He planned to be back in an hour or so. Just a quick Sunday morning flight with his neighbor, Bob. One hour and 10 minutes later John wondered just how much it would cost to fix that wheel fairing, replace a runway light, and file out that nick in the prop. Turns out that botched crosswind landing, wheel fairing, runway light, and “nicked” prop cost $30,000! The wheel pant was $300 and the airport manager had a spare runway light, but that prop was a problem, and an engine teardown and inspection was required.

So just what did John have to worry about? Here’s a partial list: Damage to the airport property, fire department response fees, salvage company fee to get John’s airplane out of the mud, one aircraft wash job, the aircraft policy deductible, two months storage in a repair shop, one wheel fairing, one new prop (the damaged prop had 25 hours on it), one engine teardown and inspection, the parts and labor to repair the engine, new paint on the repaired and replaced parts of the aircraft, engine and aircraft test flights including pilot charges, the significant cost of an accident investigation and defense costs, a possible subrogation lawsuit by the owner’s insurance company, a possible lawsuit by the aircraft owner for damages not covered by his insurance, two months loss of use/profits to the flight school, and the cost of an attorney to represent him just in case his friend Bob decided he might have been hurt after all.

Luckily, Bob saw the incident as just a good story, and John had purchased Nonowner’s (Renters) Insurance from the AOPA Insurance Agency. His policy covered everything—everything except for one FAA checkride, a bruised ego, and a big thank you to the operator of the flight school that had insisted John carry insurance. Add Nonowner’s Insurance to your checklist. It is an important part of being a responsible pilot.

Bill Snead was named president of the AOPA Insurance Agency in 2013.