Membership News and Notes: FAA should rescind new training standards

Allow students to log sim time, AOPA says

February 18, 2014

Member News and NotesAOPA has asked the FAA to rescind its new training standards for the instrument rating and allow students to log more simulator time. The FAA standards reduce simulator time that can be logged from 20 hours to 10 for the instrument rating.

“Reducing the amount of simulator time allowed flies in the face of common sense, especially today when improved technologies and training techniques make it more effective than ever,” said David Oord, AOPA manager of regulatory affairs. “That’s why we’re asking the FAA to rescind the policy statement, begin an expedited rulemaking process that would let students get credit for 20 hours of simulator training for the instrument rating, and then reissue the letters of authorization needed for flight simulators to be used for the higher level of credited time.”

Although the rule under Part 61 already allows for only 10 hours of simulator time to be logged toward the instrument rating, the FAA has issued letters of authorization (LOAs) to simulator manufacturers for more than 30 years. Those LOAs have increased the allowed time to 20 hours for specific simulators, but because they have been issued on an individual basis, there are now a variety of letters in circulation with different stipulations and requirements, and some without expiration dates. Using the rulemaking process to make 20 hours of simulator time loggable as part of FAR 61.65(i), then reissuing letters of authorization for approved training devices, would allow the FAA to standardize its requirements without penalizing students.

“Simulators are a low-cost way for students to experience a wide range of flying conditions they might not otherwise experience during their training,” said Oord. “The agency should afford the training industry the flexibility to train pilots using a variety of new and innovative ways. Only through new thinking and innovation will we collectively rise to the next level of safety.”

Budget plan protects GA

The House and Senate have passed a spending bill that preserves many key general aviation programs. In addition to providing $15.6 billion to fund the FAA—up slightly from the $15.2 billion the agency received in 2013—the spending package includes language prohibiting new user fees on aviation.

“With funding secure for the remainder of the fiscal year, the FAA and the aviation community can focus on moving forward with initiatives to reform aircraft certification policies, find viable alternatives to leaded avgas, improve infrastructure at GA airports, and take other steps to advance our national air transportation system,” said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president for government and advocacy. “In the meantime, AOPA will continue to press ahead in our work with Congress and the FAA to expand the use of the driver’s license medical standard.”

• $212 million for the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service, requiring the FAAto move forward with reforms intended to reduce the cost and time needed to certify new aircraft and modifications to the existing fleet.

• Guarantees a minimum of $140 million for the contract tower program.

• $6 million to continue funding the joint FAA-industry effort—the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative—to evaluate alternatives to leaded avgas.

• Directs the FAA to continue efforts to establish a “UAS Center of Excellence” to help safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the existing airspace system.

• Keeps modernization efforts moving forward with $282 million to implement ADS-B throughout the National Airspace System.

• $59.8 million to preserve the NextGen program.

• $3.35 billion set aside for the Airport Improvement Program, up from $3.1 billion in 2013.

• A provision allows small airports to continue contributing 5 percent of the cost for projects that were under way before the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 doubled the cost share to 10 percent.

Are you medically safe to fly?

You may need to provide the proof

FAR 67.401 says that if an airman has a medical condition, he or she will have to demonstrate that he or she is safe to fly for the duration of that medical certificate to the federal air surgeon. In order to demonstrate this, the airman may need to provide evaluations and testing. Once the airman is granted a waiver, he or she must re-demonstrate that he or she is safe to fly at regular intervals.

There are two types of waivers that the FAA can issue: One, a statement of demonstrated ability (SODA), is issued for conditions that are stable, such as a one-eyed pilot, and generally require a medical flight test. This test is usually given by an aviation safety inspector at the local FSDO. The other is given for a condition that can change over time, an example being diabetes. The airman provides evaluations and tests to demonstrate that he or she is safe. These are reviewed at the FAA’s Aerospace Medical Certification Division or regional medical offices and waiver letters (authorization letters) are issued. The medical certificates that the airman receives are generally time-limited as the airman must re-demonstrate that he or she is safe with regular testing.

Dr. Warren Silberman is the former manager of FAA Aerospace Medical Certification and a doctor of osteopathic medicine. A pilot since 1986, he is recognized nationally as an expert in aerospace/preventative medicine.

There are 15 medical conditions that are absolutely disqualifying and require review by a FAA physician. Here is a list of those conditions:

Angina pectoris
Bipolar disorder
Coronary artery disease that has required treatment or is symptomatic
Diabetes mellitus that requires insulin or oralmedications for treatment
Disturbance of consciousness without adequate explanation
Epilepsy
Heart transplant
Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
Permanent cardiac pacemaker
Personality disorder manifested by overt acts
Psychosis
Substance abuse
Substance dependence
Transient loss of nervous system function
Valve replacement

The FAA will grant a special issuance for the majority of these conditions. Please check the AOPA medical certification website or call AOPA to get an answer to a specific question about any of these conditions.

By Warren Silberman, D.o.
AOPA Pilot Protection Services

Important information about your membership

AOPA transitioned to a new database management system to better serve our members. Since the transition, we’ve seen an increase in the number of credit card declines because of inaccurate expiration dates. To ensure uninterrupted membership benefits and to verify we have the most accurate data, we are asking all members on Automatic Annual Renewal to go into their account online and confirm or update the expiration date on file. Please follow these important steps to complete your membership renewal through our secure website:

• Log into your AOPA account (www.aopa. org/login)
• Click on “Update AAR Card Information”
• If an update is required, click on Update My Credit Card
• Provide your updated credit card information— you will need to enter the entire card number with updated expiration date
• Select “Update Card Information” to replace the credit card on file
For assistance, please call us at 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672), Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time.

Benefits of Automatic Annual Renewal

• Convenience—no bills, no checks, no hassles
• Uninterrupted AOPA membership benefits and services
• One-time $4 savings on membership dues
• Five bonus AOPA Debonair sweepstakes entries

AOPA Aviation Finance

Financing is not just for aircraft purchases

Upgrades, avionics, and mods also can be financed

When you think of aircraft financing, you most likely think of obtaining a loan to buy a new or previously owned aircraft. But, with the cost of many upgrades to an existing aircraft running into the thousands of dollars, AOPA recognized a need in its members to finance these aircraft renovations which for many are cost-prohibitive.

AOPA Aviation Finance can secure a loan for members for engine overhauls, avionics upgrades, paint and interior—pretty much anything you want to do, such as a glass panel or even a new engine. Adam Meredith, president of AOPA’s aviation finance division, says, “You just have to make a note in the application regarding the purpose of the loan.”

Meredith stresses the flexibility of these loans. He says you can apply before, during, or after the work is complete. He says a routine amount for these loans is between $20,000 and $40,000—an amount thatis too small for many conventional financing companies. That makes aircraft owners turn to credit cards or a home equity line of credit to finance aircraft upgrades.

Applying for the loan is easy. Of course, you must provide typical financial information, along with tax returns. A lender will require some sort of invoice or cost estimate and typically preapproves the work. Yet, Meredith adds, “In some circumstances, you can get a loan even after the work is done.”

Meredith says that AOPA will place your request with several of its dozen lenders, depending on a number of conditions—the amount, the purpose, your own financial history—to ensure you get the best deal. Loans can be amortized from seven years to 20 years, depending on the amount. Meredith adds, “A bare minimum loan would be $10,000.”

To start the process, contact AOPA Aviation Finance Company at 800-62-PLANE (75263) or contact them through the website (www.aopafinance.com). Its friendly staff will speak your language and take the confusion out of securing a loan to upgrade a current airplane. Don’t forget that using AOPA Aviation Finance not only helps you but helps AOPA in its mission to keep GA airports open and support your right to fly.

How may we help you?

The AOPA Pilot Information Center has gathered resources for aircraft owners and potential purchasers:

Vref—Use AOPA’s aircraft valuation service, provided by Vref, to perform an aircraft valuation online.
• Tips on Buying Used Aircraft—Read before you buy.
• Financing an Aircraft—AOPA Aviation Finance LLC.
• Insurance—AOPA Insurance Services.
Aircraft Fact Sheets—Comprehensive database on nearly 100 aircraft. 

It’s tax time, again!

AOPA has reviewed its online publication, “The Pilot’s Guide to Taxes.” Find out what’s changed regarding aircraft ownership and operations for tax year 2013 in this month’s Answers for Pilots (www.aopa.org/Pilot-Resources/Answers-for-Pilots.aspx).

AOPA Aviation Finance has a staff of knowledgeable specialists to help find solutions for your lending needs and answer all your aviation financing questions. Call 800-62-PLANE (75263) to speak with a specialist.

AOPA Foundation

Accident Case Study: Communication Breakdown

Member News and NotesIt’s the afternoon of February 29, 2012, and a pilot and two passengers are returning to the Melbourne International Airport in Florida, after a local flight in N544SR, a Cirrus SR22. At 4:58 p.m. the weather is good, traffic at the towered field is flowing smoothly, and the airplane is in perfect condition. At 5:01 p.m. the same airplane is a smoking pile of wreckage just off the approach end of the runway.

The mistakes that put it there are the focus of this Air Safety Institute Accident Case Study. How could things have gone so wrong under such benign circumstances? Using audio of the pilot’s interactions with Melbourne Tower and factual information from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the video reconnects the links of the accident chain and seeks out lessons in the tragedy (www.airsafetyinstitute.org/acs–comm).

Situational awareness and communication are everything

“Hold your position, just stop!” Those were the air traffic controller’s exasperated words when it became clear that things had gotten thoroughly messed up in the dense fog that cloaked the airport and hampered visibility from the tower and from the cockpits of three large aircraft—one taxiing after landing, one taking off, and one holding for takeoff.

That night of December 6, 1999, United Airlines 1448 had made one wrong turn while taxiing in severely reduced visibility: It became the first link in a series of mistaken assumptions by its crew and the tower controller. View this video animation of the eerie events that took place that dark, foggy night at Providence, Rhode Island’s Theodore Francis Green State Airport and learn how the pilots communicated and averted a serious accident (www.airsafetyinstitute.org/pvd-incursion).

Runway incursions happen in just seconds, whether a single miscalculation or a host of slipups converging at the wrong time. That’s why it’s important to communicate clearly and appropriately, double check clearances, be vigilant, and have good situational awareness when maneuvering on the airport. Prior to ground movement—especially at an unfamiliar airport—it is important to study the airport diagram and notams, and be extra vigilant about proper communication and visually clearing the area, be it during approach, takeoff, or taxi.

There is a host of free airport safety education available from the Air Safety Institute, such as the Runway Safety online course produced with the support of the FAA’s Office of Runway Safety, runway safety flash cards, Ask ATC videos, and safety quizzes—including one on airport signs and markings (www.airsafetyinstitute.org/runwaysafetyspotlight).

New ASI winter/spring seminar: Accident case study: Live

Visit (www.airsafetyinstitute.org/seminars) for dates and locations near you.

View the video

Flying the weather

Pilots are constantly evaluating the weather when flying, including before takeoff, en route, and before landing. But unless you’re a seasoned meteorologist and well-trained in interpreting and applying practical weather theory, weather is one of the more difficult elements to grasp. Whether you face a checkride or would like help in assessing the big weather picture before a long cross-country flight, you might enjoy some help from ASI’s Flying the Weather video series, aimed at deciphering weather phenomena and their impact on flight. In the first two installments, Airframe Icing and Picking Up Ice, AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne discusses how airframe ice affects the aircraft’s handling, what to look for, and why early detection of ice accumulation is critical to your safety. Stay tuned for upcoming installments in this new series that will teach you the all-important aspects of flying the weather (www.airsafetyinstitute.org/safetyvideos).

State and Local Action

By the numbers

2014 legislative review

46 state legislatures across the country are set to meet this year. AOPA’s state legislative team has been preparing for these sessions and is ready to continue our recent successful efforts in state capitols nationwide to protect GA from increased state taxes and unnecessary regulations.

1/16 The date the state legislative year officially began; California is the first to commence.

12/31 The date Ohio is scheduled to adjourn; the last state to do so. Note, though, that year-long state legislatures most often adjourn by early fall, especially in election years.

29 The days in New Mexico’s scheduled session to enact that state’s budget; the shortest. Arkansas is second with 31 days—most other state sessions are 60 to 90 days.

0! The number of days Texas, America’s second biggest state, will convene this year. The Texas legislature, along with three other states in the nation, only meets every other year for what is known as a biennial legislative session.

19 The average number of new bills introduced and reviewed by AOPA each day in the early part of the year. By the fall, the total number of GA bills reviewed typically reaches about 1,200.

Each year, some states will try to raise revenue by taxing aviation or making new rules that affect airports, aviation security, environmental impacts, and safety. AOPA is always on the alert in all 50 states to protect GA from the ones that make no sense and increase the burden on pilots and aircraft owners.

Trouble in paradise

Hawaii airports face threats similar to those on the mainland, but with a unique twist. The state owns all of the public-use airports in the islands, so taking your business elsewhere is not an option. Hawaii’s Airport Support Network volunteers and members across the state have to work hard within the state’s system to protect general aviation while trying to maintain positive relationships with one big airport sponsor.

These relationships have been tested recently as Hawaii state transportation department staff launched a crackdown on nonaeronautical items in hangars. Unlike in past years, when a hangar inspection might produce a warning or cautionary note about messy conditions or a reminder of certain prohibitions, hangar tenants suddenly faced a much harsher regimen. Inspection teams that included sheriffs, FAA officials, fire officials, and state transportation personnel began issuing criminal citations for anything found inside a hangar that was not part of an aircraft—tools, golf clubs, and even a golf cart with an airport sticker used to tow aircraft belonging to ASN volunteer Rob Moore. As tenants consulted attorneys, they learned that a quirk of state law made the citations, in the way they were issued, criminal charges that put airman certificates—and, in some cases—careers in peril.

As ASN volunteers approached AOPA for help, the General Aviation Council of Hawaii (GACH), led by Moore, also weighed in, contacting the governor, but to no avail. AOPA reached out to the state’s director of transportation, who oversees the airports system. AOPA’s ASN Director Joey Colleran and Western Pacific Regional Manager John Pfeifer visited Hawaii in January, where they held meetings with ASN volunteers and GACH members on this and other issues.Hawaiian pilots are now taking their case to the state legislature, where a bill has been introduced to remove the criminal nature of these violations.