October 1, 2013
AOPA’s Airport Support Network reached some important milestones in 2013, and ASN invites you to be a part of this vital and growing program. ASN now has more than 2,500 volunteers across the country and Virginia is the first state to reach 100-percent ASN volunteer coverage at a public-use airport. The annual meeting of volunteers will take place on Saturday, October 12, at AOPA Aviation Summit in Fort Worth, Texas. Volunteers and guests are invited to come learn more about the ASN program and all the work your fellow pilots and the AOPA airport team does for you. In addition to the annual ASN meeting during Summit, AOPA’s airport team will be hosting the second Airports Day at Summit on Friday, October 11. Again this year there will be informative sessions designed for anyone interested in how to run an airport to benefit aviators and the whole community. If you are an airport manager or employee, airport commissioner, or an active supporter of your local airport, please join us. Come to Airports Day on Friday, stay for the ASN meeting on Saturday—join a group of dedicated advocates working to preserve airports.
Vowing to “embrace innovation,” the FAA has released the report of an industry-led aviation rulemaking committee that recommends ways to overhaul small-aircraft certification rules to double safety and cut costs in half. The report, by the FAA’s Part 23 Reorganization Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), follows the panel’s 18-month study in which aviation authorities and industry representatives examined how to reform the regulatory environment for aircraft certification. AOPA was an active participant in the ARC process. The initiative was led by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. The ARC’s recommendations focus on replacing “prescriptive” and outdated rules with more flexible methods of producing new aircraft designs, and adding safety modifications to the working fleet.
New standards proposed for private pilot and instrument-rating certification would improve training and place all skill and knowledge requirements in one “easily identifiable document” for each, AOPA says. The standards would “make the connection” between knowledge tests and practical tests, and “bring relevancy to both and throughout the flight training paradigm.” AOPA cochaired the Airman Testing Standards and Training Working Group, an industry-led effort to make training and testing more relevant and meaningful.
In a cost-reduction effort, the FAA has discontinued direct-to-the-public subscription sales of paper aeronautical charts and related products. Nonsubscription sales to individuals end October 1. Current subscriptions will be filled until their expiration dates. Sales of paper charts and products will be available through the FAA’s network of authorized agents. Digital chart availability and distribution will not be affected by the action.
If you develop a medical problem during the time period that your current FAA medical certificate is in effect, you need to go to AOPA’s Medical Certification website and see if the condition will require a special issuance waiver. You can also check the Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners on the FAA’s website. Now that it is online, and is regularly updated, this is a great resource in addition to the AOPA website.
The FAA requires “current information,” meaning the reports and evaluations can be no older than 90 days when the FAA receives them. Get all of the evaluations and tests just as the FAA requests. Do not attempt to cut corners. Do not allow your treating physician to convince you that the FAA doesn’t need that for your condition, do some other test, or have the test performed in a fashion that’s different from the way the FAA has requested by checking with AOPA’s medical certification specialists or phoning customer service at the FAA’s Aerospace Medical Certification Division (AMCD).
There are aeromedical reasons why the FAA wants the tests done in a particular way; not providing exactly what is requested will absolutely delay the issuance of your medical, and may result in an outright denial. Also, the FAA will always accept any testing over and above what they asked. For example, if you are asked to provide a “plain” Bruce protocol exercise stress test and your doctor decides to do a more sensitive nuclear exercise perfusion scan, the FAA will accept that more sensitive test for medical certification consideration.
Do not send anything to the FAA until you can send everything that’s required. Sending an incomplete packet will result in delays. The FAA letter may include a specification sheet that details exactly what they want to see, so I recommend using that sheet as a checklist and marking off each item as you complete it.
The FAA cannot work a special issuance unless you have a current medical application on file. The FAA application is valid for as little as six months for a first class medical and as long as 60 months for a third class. It is generally a good practice to apply for the lowest class of medical required for the privileges you plan to exercise. It’s possible that your medical application will expire before the FAA reviews your case and clears you for a new medical. If that happens, you will receive a letter informing you that you may submit a new application and see your AME for a new FAA physical examination for the class that you require. The AME will be authorized to issue you a certificate at the time of examination.
One last reminder is airman regulation Part 61.53, which in simple English tells airmen not to fly if they have a known medically disqualifying condition or are placed on a known disqualifying medication, treatment, or therapy.
Dr. Warren Silberman is the former manager of FAA Aerospace Medical Certification and a doctor of osteopathic medicine. A pilot since 1986, he is an expert in aerospace/preventative medicine, and is a regular writer for AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services.
Do you find yourself nodding off at your desk, or worse, in a business meeting? Maybe you just need more sleep, or maybe you have a sleep disorder. The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that more than 20 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those affected are undiagnosed. Untreated sleep apnea often leads to hypertension, heart and cardiovascular problems, as well as accidents of all kinds. In 2009, an NTSB Safety Recommendation to the FAA resulted in changes to the evaluation requirements for medical certification. The FAA now grants medical certification under a Special Issuance Authorization to pilots who report successful treatment and control of obstructive sleep apnea. However, medications that may be prescribed to treat symptoms are generally not allowed if used on a regular basis. Find out more in October’s online Answers for Pilots (www.aopa.org/answersforpilots).
You have probably noticed the initials LLC on your lawyer’s or other professional’s business card. You may even know that LLC stands for “limited liability company.” What you may not have considered, though, is that an LLC may be the best way to go if you are buying an airplane in partnership with another person or group of people. Rather than having a legal partnership, you and your fellow aircraft owners would form an LLC. Think of an LLC as a cousin to a partnership. LLCs have some family traits in common with partnerships, yet an LLC comes with fewer formalities, less paperwork, and lower fees. Of course, the details for forming an LLC vary from state to state, but here are three good reasons why an LLC may be the right choice when you buy an airplane.
Limited liability: An LLC protects the assets of its owners (members) who are typically not held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the LLC. That means that creditors cannot go after homes, cars, and savings accounts in pursuit of debt repayment. Unlike a partnership, your personal assets are not vulnerable with an LLC.
Tax considerations: LLCs do not pay taxes as a business. Instead LLCs have a pass-through taxation. What that means is that any business income or loss is “passed through” to the LLC owners and reported as part of their personal income taxes.
Flexibility: Compared to S and C corporations, LLCs have fewer compliance requirements and fewer state-imposed compliance requirements. What’s more, LLCs may choose their own management structures with no board of directors necessary to oversee the day-to-day business. Finally, unlike S corporations, fewer restrictions exist as to who can own an LLC and how many owners may be involved in one.
Whether as a sole owner, a partnership, an LLC or other legal entity, if you are seeking financing for an aircraft purchase, AOPA Aviation Finance Company is on your side. Check out the information online (www.aopafinace.com). There are links to frequently asked questions, a loan calculator to assist you in figuring out which loan fits into your budget, and more. Then reach out to one of the aviation finance specialists at 800-62-PLANE (800-627-5263). In a hurry? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to begin the application process today.
The information presented in this article should not be relied upon as legal or financial advice. If you are interested in exploring an LLC for an aircraft ownership, consult an aviation-savvy lawyer and tax professional who will be able to provide you with advice tailored for your state, regulatory requirements, and your unique circumstances.
Insuring your aircraft is no easy task. It’s a substantial investment, and understanding the ins and outs of the insurance industry can be confusing to put it mildly.
What’s more, comparing insurance policies is rarely an apples-to-apples affair. But to make things a bit easier, here’s a simple checklist to help you navigate the process.
Still confused? Contact our experts at 800-622-2672 or visit the website (www.aopainsurance.com).
Brenda J. Jennings is an aviation insurance professional with more than 35 years of experience.
Did you know you can donate your airworthy airplane to the AOPA Foundation? Bypass the hassle of selling and gain a tax benefit, while fueling GA’s future with your donation (www.aopafoundation.org/aircraft-donation).
The AOPA Foundation’s Air Safety Institute has been awarded the Champion of Public Benefit Flying Award by the National Aeronautic Association, in partnership with the Air Care Alliance, a nationwide league of humanitarian flying organizations.
The Air Safety Institute’s Public Benefit Flying: Balancing Safety and Compassion online course (www.airsafetyinstitute.org/volunteerpilots) received the 2013 Champion of Public Benefit Flying award for increasing public benefit flying’s safety culture by helping volunteer pilots manage risk and avoid harm.
The prestigious Public Benefit Flying Awards were created to honor volunteer pilots, other volunteers, and their organizations engaged in flying to help others, and those supporting such work. Public benefit flying involves such activities as volunteer flights to transport medical patients, wounded warriors, emergency supplies and even animals.
“We are grateful to the National Aeronautic Association and Air Care Alliance for this recognition of our safety work focused on public benefit flying,” said Bruce Landsberg, president of the AOPA Foundation. “We were more than happy to have the opportunity to address the risks and safety solutions involved in this unique general aviation activity, and our hope is that our work has made it even more rewarding for pilots.”
“The recipients of the 2013 Public Benefit Flying Awards demonstrate again the diversity of public benefit flying in America and the many different people who benefit from it,” said NAA President and CEO Jonathan Gaffney.
Air Care Alliance Chairman Rol Murrow noted, “We honor these recipients not only for their own contributions but also because they represent all those others who fly patients for care, respond following disasters, provide educational flights for youth, protect our environment, help our veterans, and provide support in many other ways to those in need.”
Discover what Jim Lawson learned about working with ATC when the chips are down—and how ATC can help pilots escape peril—in the Air Safety Institute’s Trapped On Top Real Pilot Story. The flight begins on a beautiful morning in Afton, Wyoming. Lawson is delivering Christmas gifts to his son and family, who live in North Bend, Washington. As the flight progresses, low-lying clouds move in, trapping Lawson and his Mooney on top, forcing him to fly past his destination and beyond his alternate while slowly depleting the fuel tanks. When he finally reaches out to ATC and confesses to the grave situation he’s in, it’s almost too late for help.
View this reenacted incident to understand how things gradually went from good to bad, and listen as a team of ATC specialists mounts a heroic effort to get the overwhelmed pilot on the ground safely. The three controllers received the 2012 Archie League Medal of Safety Award and the President’s Award in honor of the most outstanding flight assist of the year (www.airsafetyinstitute.org/trappedrps).
In 2012, AOPA launched its new Regional Manager Program to strengthen its commitment to robust engagement in every state. The new regional team has played a critical role in successfully managing more than 250 legislative proposals in the 46 states whose legislatures were in session. They also attended or hosted 130 events across the country, meeting with thousands of AOPA members, and began blogging and tweeting to communicate with others.
Great Lakes Region: Bryan Budds especially enjoys events at local airports. Recently, he attended the North Vernon Airport Awareness Day in Indiana, an annual event drawing thousands of local community members and 100-plus fly-in aircraft. Budds hosted a booth and distributed information on learning to fly and the economic and community building benefits of a local airport. Budds has also been a frequent visitor to Lansing, where AOPA and the aviation community are wrestling with the problem of Michigan’s high aviation fuel tax rates and dwindling revenue for aviation infrastructure. In 2012, AOPA and others persuaded the legislature to dedicate a portion of tax revenue collected on aviation fuel for airport investment. That provision had a one-year sunset provision. AOPA is fighting to win adequate long-term funding for Michigan’s GA airports by supporting measures that would cut the overall fuel tax rate and dedicate the revenues to airports.
Alaska: Tom George reports pilots are working with airport owners in innovative ways in Alaska. He recently participated in a volunteer effort to paint special markings on the Ski Strip—a gravel runway at Fairbanks International Airport. The paint crew’s goal is to improve aviation safety by providing a place to practice precision landings, before pilots head to the more challenging backcountry strips. This practice runway gets a lot of use in a state where many pilots rely on off-field landings areas. The airspace over the Mat-Su Valley is some of the busiest in the aviation-dependent state, and George has been working to reduce the risk of midair collisions through better communications. He cochairs a government/industry working group trying to clarify common traffic radio frequency zones used to enhance situational awareness when operating in this busy airspace.
Southern Region: Down South, Bob Minter has made aviation education for young people a personal cause. Believing early experience with aviation vital to growing the pilot population, Minter is working throughout the region to introduce teens to potential careers in aviation. He has been identifying and connecting with high school programs in the Southern Region incorporating aviation into a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curriculum, and connect them with AOPA’s AV8Rs program as an ideal addition to these programs. Minter played a leading role in preventing overregulation of flight training by the state in Tennessee, making sure flight training could remain affordable and available. He’s also been assisting an AOPA member and videographer in the production of a documentary about his local GA airport.
Western Pacific Region: John Pfeifer has been spending a lot of time in Sacramento, where he is deeply involved in California aviation funding. Aviation is a huge industry in this state—home to 10 percent of America’s certificated pilots. Unfortunately, this wealthy but cash-strapped state doesn’t bring in enough aviation-dedicated revenue to sustain the state’s airport system. Even though California aviation user taxes generate more than $350 million in revenue each year, less than two percent of that revenue is returned to fund the state aeronautics program. Working with local allies, Pfeifer was a leader in organizing the first annual California Aviation Awareness Day at the capitol to highlight the problems. The event did a lot to raise the profile of this critical funding gap. Since then he and other stakeholders have been back in Sacramento for meetings with key legislators and senior officials, and are making progress on a solution.
Central Southwest Region: Yasmina Platt has been moving like a whirlwind across her region. In early June, she traveled from her home base in Houston to Iowa’s first ever PilotPalooza, held at the Boone Municipal Airport. Platt took the stage to talk about AOPA initiatives. Her travels also took her to Albuquerque for a New Mexico General Aviation Jobs Rally hosted by GAMA. Along with AOPA President Craig Fuller, Platt joined a crowd of GA supporters featuring Gov. Susana Martinez, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, and GAMA President Pete Bunce. Earlier in the year, she was in Santa Fe promoting a state tax exemption for aircraft maintenance, and is already working towards passage of similar legislation in next year’s session.
Northwest Mountain Region: Dave Ulane played a key role in the creation of the new Colorado General Aviation Alliance, along with his predecessor Bill Hamilton. This new organization aims to bring together various aviation groups within the state to facilitate collaboration on a wide range of GA-related issues and initiatives in the state. At the top of its agenda is a 2014 legislative initiative to improve low level aviation safety statewide by requiring the marking, lighting and reporting of meteorological evaluation towers in the state. Ulane spent a lot of time on legislative issues in Washington and Oregon early in the year, and returned to Oregon for the state Pilot Association’s annual convention in August, where he also hosted a gathering for local ASN volunteers.
Eastern Region: AOPA’s newest Regional Manager is Sean Collins. A native of Maine, Collins spent several years at AOPA headquarters in the Pilot Information Center before heading to New England for his new assignment. In Augusta, Maine, he worked on legislation to extend the state’s exemption from sales and use taxes for aircraft and parts, adopted two years ago. This exemption contained an obscure provision for review in 2015. Thanks to a concerted effort by AOPA and the Maine aviation industry, the exemption has been extended to 2033. Collins visited a number of airports and aviation events, including MAMA’s Massachusetts Aviation Advocacy Day in Boston; AOPA’s Pilot Town Hall at Hanscom Field; visits to Bridgewater State University to see its Flight Training Center and Aviation Career Education Camp; the Minuteman Airfield BBQ in Stowe, Vermont; and the Wings over Wiscasset airshow.
AOPA’s Regional Managers have become recognized figures in the aviation community in their areas as well as effective advocates for the GA community. For more information, visit the website (www.aopa.org/advocacy).
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AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.