News and notes: Summit 2013

Singer Aaron Tippin starting Summit off right

September 1, 2013

aaron tippinMultiengine instrument-rated pilot, certified aircraft mechanic, and helicopter pilot Aaron Tippin will kick off AOPA Aviation Summit 2013 with a free concert for attendees. AOPA and the Commemorative Air Force will present a free concert featuring the country singer Thursday, October 10, at the Flying Saucer in Fort Worth, Texas. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. and Tippin will perform at 7 p.m. The Flying Saucer is a downtown Fort Worth event complex offering food, drinks, and outdoor seating.

The event is free, but seating and space is limited. Tickets are now available and Summit attendees must pre-register for this event. Space will be honored on a first-come, first-serve basis. More top-notch entertainment is scheduled for Summit 2013. Registration is now open.

Get loud with AOPA as we celebrate aviation, country music, and Fort Worth, Texas!

Web: www.aopa.org/summit

Special Events

Whiskey and Rye Lift Lounge
Thursday-Saturday, October 10-12, 9 p.m.-12 p.m.

Chow Down in Cowtown
Friday, October 11, 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

Pilots, Planes, and Pancakes
Saturday, October 12, 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

Hangar Dance at Vintage Flying Museum
Saturday, October 12, 5 p.m.-8 p.m.


What AOPA is doing to keep you flying

Stop “stop and search.” AOPA sent a letter to Customs and Border Protection questioning CBP’s authority to monitor GA activity within the borders of the contiguous United States. A checklist insert was developed to assist pilots with knowing how to handle law enforcement “stops and searches.” This insert was published on the AOPA website, in the August issue of AOPA Pilot, ePilot, and by ePilot special report. The AOPA Government Affairs division, in coordination with AOPA legal counsel, continues to investigate CBP’s authority to monitor GA while new reports from members continue to be received.

FAA National Customer forum. AOPA has reengaged on this forum, which includes participation from senior FAA leadership. The forum was established with an airline-centric purpose of reviewing and improving efficiency in the National Airspace System (NAS) at a tactical level. Over time, the scope broadened to include a significant discussion of policy. In light of sequestration and budget concerns, this forum has proven beneficial for AOPA and its advocacy positions. Recent discussions have highlighted the pending work on future sequestration/budget-related issues such as tower closures, and participation at this forum offers the opportunity for AOPA to advocate for its members’ interests.

Obsolete FAA test questions. AOPA sent a letter to the FAA requesting the removal of terms and technologies that are obsolete and, therefore, not warranted to be on FAA knowledge exams. The FAA agreed and is removing those questions from its tests. The working group felt that, even though a particular technology might be used only in Alaska or be referenced in the AIM, in order to make testing more relevant for all airmen, the questions should be removed.


Are you really good to go if FAR 91.403(a) doesn’t say so?

By Mike Yodice

FAR 91.403(a) says the owner or operator of an aircraft is primarily responsible for maintaining that aircraft in an airworthy condition. FAR 91.405(b) essentially says that the owner or operator shall ensure that maintenance personnel make appropriate entries in the aircraft maintenance records indicating the aircraft has been approved for return to service following the performance of required maintenance.

Then, 91.407(a) says that no person may operate any aircraft that has undergone maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, or alteration unless it has been approved for return to service by a person authorized under FAR 43.7 and the required maintenance record entry has been made.

This all seems pretty clear. So why, then, do we keep hearing stories about pilots picking up their aircraft after having maintenance done and not verifying the proper maintenance log entry? I think we as owners, pilots, and mechanics all share in the blame. As an airplane owner and pilot, I’ve heard it myself when an A&P or IA says, “the work is done, you’re good to go.” I will make a log entry to stick in the logbook and get you an invoice later.” I rather appreciate the casualness of such an exchange, as it speaks to an established and trusting relationship, but we all bear a regulatory burden prescribed by the referenced FARs. It’s incumbent on all parties to know the regs and address questions or confusion about compliance. After all, our certificates may depend on it.

Mike Yodice is the director of Legal Services Plans at Yodice Associates and counsels LSP/PPS members on such issues as FAA compliance and enforcement. He is an active pilot and regularly flies a Piper J–3 Cub and Cherokee 180.

AOPA Strategic Partner Spotlight:

Aircraft Spruce & Specialty

aircraft spruceAircraft Spruce is supporting AOPA members by offering periodic special offers and discounts on aircraft parts and pilots supplies, and through sponsorship of AOPA Aviation Summit and the Aircraft Maintenance Tips feature online. It also provides financial support that helps AOPA promote, protect, and defend GA.

Visit aircraftspruce.com


AOPA Foundation

Donations to the AOPA Foundation help fund the webinars, online courses, and other safety education products the Air Safety Institute is known for. Consider a tax-deductible donation today and help keep these free resources available for pilots everywhere. (aopafoundation.org/donate)


The AOPA Foundation ‘Giving Back’ program to offer Members’ Choice grant

The AOPA Foundation’s Giving Back Program will be awarding grants of up to $10,000 each to nonprofit groups doing charitable work through general aviation. As part of the program, AOPA members will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite grant applicant organization. The Members’ Choice grant voting will run September 7 through 14. Mark your calendar now and visit the website (aopafoundation.org) to cast your vote when the time comes.


Lessons learned from ASI’s Accident Case Study: Time-Lapse

One of the great advances in general aviation in recent years has been the widespread availability of in-cockpit weather information. Like any technology, though, it can be used improperly. The Air Safety Institute examines a tragic accident that occurred in late 2011 over southeast Texas in which all five on board—the pilot, his wife, their two children, and his brother—were killed. The video looks at the Piper Cherokee Six pilot who was using in-cockpit weather information to navigate around convective activity. The case study explores how the pilot might not have fully understood the limitations of Nexrad radar, which can be as much as 20 minutes older than the age indication on the cockpit display. View the video (airsafetyinstitute.org/timelapse) to understand the gotchas when relying on datalink weather displays to navigate around quickly developing weather systems with fast-moving convective activity.


Are you up for ASI’s new Weather Challenge seminar?

weather challengeDo your eyes glazeover when you hear about Skew-T diagrams? Yawn at hearing about moist adiabatic lapse rates? Soak up some practical weather knowledge with the Air Safety Institute’s Weather Challenge fall seminar, which debuts September 9.

Weather Challenge aims at bolstering your real-world weather wisdom—and having a little fun, too. As with ASI’s recent Chart Challenge seminar, you’ll have the opportunity to put your knowledge to the test from METAR/TAF decoding to real-world weather scenarios. Along the way you’ll learn about important weather resources and the promise (and pitfalls) of cockpit weather. The seminar also covers critical risk management and decision making as it delves into weather-related accidents that didn’t need to happen. Visit the website (airsafetyinstitute.org/seminars) for dates and locations near you.

Brought to you by AOPA Insurance Services.


Five good reasons to say yes to a business aircraft

You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company or multinational corporation to benefit from using a general aviation aircraft in pursuit of business. In fact, thousands of entrepreneurs and small companies currently use GA aircraft and gain a competitive advantage (see “Classically Modern,” page 54). Why not you? Buying an aircraft for your business makes sense. Here’s why:

1. Eliminate downtime. No matter how “connected” you are via smartphone and computer, you’re still wasting time by sitting at airport gates, waiting to board a flight that’s often delayed anyway. What’s more, your disposition will take a giant leap toward cheerfulness if you never again have to sit at a crowded gate at O’Hare.

2. It’s not just LAX, ORD, and LGA. Sure, business takes you to major metropolitan areas, but it’s more than likely that you’re headed to a smaller city, not regularly serviced by the airlines. That means two and sometimes three commercial legs of a flight to get you where you want to go. Today, if your business destination isn’t a major commercial airline hub, it takes you twice as long to reach it.

3. Sleep in your own bed. See your children when they’re actually awake. A GA airplane can leave Wichita early in the morning, fly to Garden City, Kansas, for meetings; over mountains for lunch in Grand Junction, Colorado; back across the Continental Divide to Cheyenne, Wyoming; and then to Denver—all in one day. These executives then can arrive home in time to relax and prepare for a full day in the office the next day. On the airlines? No way.

4. Consider the value of your time. Businesses are finally realizing it’s more cost-effective to have their employees working instead of waiting for delayed or canceled flights. You’d no doubt be appalled if you tallied the value of time that’s lost to you or your employees on a typical business trip. From the boardroom to the accounting department, GA can be an efficient business travel alternative.

5. Get ahead of your competition. A study of U.S. Standard & Poor’s 500 companies by NEXA Advisors concluded that companies that used business aviation during the economic downturn—from 2007 to 2011—outperformed competitors that did not. In times of economic pressure, companies need to be efficient and proactive.

GA allows you to make your own schedule—you fly where you want, when you want, at times that are convenient for you. That’s just smart business, and AOPA Finance is here to help. Reach out to one of the aviation finance specialists at 800-62-PLANE or 800-627-5263. In a rush? Email us at info@aopafinance.com to begin the application process today.


Airport Support Network Volunteer Highlight

Since he joined the Airport Support Network (ASN) as a volunteer in 2008, general aviation-based pilots at Bellingham International Airport in Washington have been well-served by Jerry Ward. Ward was an airport advocate before joining the ASN program, and continues to utilize the relationships he built to benefit all pilots at the airport. Among his most significant accomplishments was a the key role he played in getting the ongoing Bellingham master plan update to focus on GA, and not just the airport’s burgeoning commercial activity. “Jerry is universally liked around the airport,” AOPA Northwest Regional Manager Dave Ulane said. At AOPA headquarters, whenever issues arise at Bellingham, the ASN staff knows Ward can be counted on to know and share all the complexities of any situation, and help determine the best advocacy route to take.

Volunteers like Jerry Ward are critical to protecting airports, and the backbone of the ASN team—a force of 2,500-plus volunteers across the country. Do you work well with all of the stakeholders at your airport, and are you ready to step up to become an ASN volunteer? Learn more online.


Aviation use-tax exemption protected, extended in Maine

Maine has extended until 2033 an exemption from sales and use taxes for aircraft and parts that was passed two years ago, but contained an obscure provision for expiration in 2016.

Passage of the AOPA-backed measure to extend the tax exemption through 2033 will remove uncertainty from aviation-related businesses as they plan for the future—and preserve the momentum created by the 2011 tax reform, said Mark Kimberling, AOPA director of state government affairs.

AOPA and other industry members who worked to override the provision—and fend off a proposed amendment to limit the tax exemption extension to just eight years—expressed satisfaction that their efforts prevailed during a session marked by contentious relations between Maine’s executive and legislative branches.

Kimberling, along with AOPA Northeast Regional Manager Sean Collins, local aviation advocate Jon Block, and numerous local aviation business owners and employees, participated in two key public hearings and other meetings in the state capital. Their efforts overcame political reluctance to extend the exemptions at a time when lawmakers were striving to eliminate many targeted tax provisions.

“In addition to the increased business investment, economic activity, and state revenue that supports the state system of airports, the most rewarding aspect of this legislative effort was meeting and talking to many of the aviation workers who have been able to find new full-time, high-wage employment, with some individuals actually being reunited with their families after having to seek work in other states for several years,” Kimberling said. “For all of these reasons, we felt it was vital, this session, to secure the continued remarkable turnaround and growth of the industry in Maine that began with the end of the crippling use-tax law two years ago.”


Keeping the backcountry open

Backcountry airstrips may not be where you do most of your flying, but for many pilots, it’s where they wish they were! AOPA’s airports team has been working aggressively with allies such as the Recreational Aviation Foundation, the Seaplane Pilots Association, and many others to preserve and create access to backcountry airstrips and waterways.

Recreational flying is a little safer in Colorado’s spectacular backcountry, where the Bureau of Land Management recently issued its draft resource management plan for the area. It acknowledges the role of GA for recreational purposes, and promises not to close airstrips, “protecting the recreational experiences of aircraft users.”

AOPA joined the RAF in reminding the United States Forest Service to include airstrips and recreational aviation in its new planning rule directives, and called on pilots to comment on the document as well. AOPA, the RAF, and the Idaho Aviation Association had previously participated in the Forest Service’s rewrite of its Forest Planning Rule, which governs how it plans for the nation’s forests and grasslands.


Aviation gains hard-fought tax victory in Pennsylvania

Years of determined advocacy for general aviation have been rewarded in Pennsylvania, where a bill to exempt the retail sale or use of aircraft parts, services to aircraft, and aircraft components from a 6-percent sales tax has passed and been signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett. The bill’s passage means major cost savings for aircraft owners. In a region where neighboring states with exemptions have siphoned off jobs and attracted aviation investment dollars, it should boost Pennsylvania’s aviation business competitiveness, said AOPA Director of State Government Affairs Mark Kimberling.

“This bill’s passage marks a positive and long-awaited day for general aviation in Pennsylvania. This tax measure will finally level the business-competitiveness playing field and stem the ongoing exodus of aviation activity and jobs,” Kimberling said. “We—along with the Aviation Council of Pennsylvania—remained determined to enact this tax exemption, knowing that it is vital to the long-term health of the historic and extensive general aviation network in the state.”

The sales tax exemption measure will take effect 90 days after it is signed by the governor, marking the latest pro-GA state legislation passed as part of AOPA’s nationwide comprehensive state advocacy effort in recent years.


Preventing your out of pocket from getting out of hand

By Brenda J. Jennings, Senior Vice President, AOPA Insurance Services

A deductible is the amount you’ll pay out of your own pocket in the event of an accident for which you’re filing a claim. Deductibles are a way for the insurance company to make you participate in the cost of a claim as an added incentive to be alert and avoid carelessness in the cockpit.

With a standard deductible, you may be required to pay anywhere from $0 to $2,500 toward your airplane’s repair cost. If you have an amphibious, seaplane, rotorcraft, or other more specialized equipment, a much higher deductible would apply—and possibly be expressed as a fixed amount from $10,000 to $25,000. It’s also possible you’ll pay a fixed percentage of between 5 percent and 10 percent of the insured value of the airplane.

With other types of insurance, you generally see the premium drop when you take a higher deductible. Not so for aircraft insurance. Taking higher deductibles won’t lower the cost of your airplane insurance much, if at all, simply because insurers expect most claims to exceed a higher deductible, incurring the same amount of claim administration expenses as they would with a lower deductible.

There’s nothing wrong with asking about higher deductibles to lower the cost of your airplane insurance; just don’t be surprised if your insurance agent doesn’t have good news for you. But remember, your insurance agent is the person you should be able to count on to help maximize your airplane insurance while minimizing the cost.

AOPA Insurance Services is celebrating its twentieth anniversary (see “Briefing: Protecting Pilots,” page 33). Our first policy was written in September 1993 for a Cessna 172. We want to thank all of our members for helping us become the largest light aircraft insurance agency in the United States. We look forward to the next 20 years of serving the insurance needs of our members.

Web: www.aopainsurance.org

Brenda J. Jennings is an aviation insurance professional with more than 35 years of experience.


New extended pilot information center hours

Now you can enjoy a whole new level of access to the team of aviation experts in our Pilot Information Center with our convenient extended weekday hours. The Pilot Information Center is now available until 8 p.m. Eastern time every weekday. Call 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672) Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. Eastern time, with your questions and our staff will be happy to assist you.