AOPA Legislative Action has urged Congress to pass the "Hoover Bill," which would curb the FAA's abuse of its emergency authority to revoke pilot certificates.
"We support and promote fair FAA enforcement," said AOPA General Counsel John S. Yodice, testifying before the aviation subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on August 6. "But the FAA is denying due process to many pilots by overusing its emergency authority."
Current law gives the FAA power to suspend or revoke an airman's certificate if the pilot has violated FARs and poses a threat to safety. An appeal to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will allow the pilot to continue flying until the NTSB rules.
But the FAA can issue an emergency order grounding the pilot pending the outcome of the NTSB appeal if it believes that public safety requires immediate action. Unfortunately, the FAA now considers almost every certificate action an "emergency," and the percentage of emergency hearings before the NTSB has increased more than fourfold since 1989.
One of the most notorious examples was the FAA's 1992 action against world-renowned airshow pilot Bob Hoover.
The Hoover Bill, H.R.1846, gives pilots two days to request an NTSB hearing after the FAA issues an emergency revocation order. The NTSB would then have five days to decide whether the emergency order was justified. If not, the certificate would be returned and the pilot could continue flying while the FAA pursued its revocation case through an expedited appeal process.
Passage of the Hoover Bill would probably not increase the number of appeals to NTSB, according to Yodice. "The probable effect will be that the FAA will make more judicious and limited use of its emergency revocation authority."
Specifications for a new low-octane unleaded aviation gasoline, issued in August by the American Society for Testing and Materials, may eventually ease fuel-buying woes for thousands of 80/87 octane avgas users.
The new unleaded fuel, dubbed 82UL,is expected to replace the hard-to-find 80/87 and could eventually be approved for more than half of existing piston-engine aircraft. The new fuel is the result of 10 years of effort by the aviation industry, including AOPA.
"Although it is specifically an aviation fuel, 82UL can be produced from the same petroleum stocks as autogas," said Douglas C. Macnair, AOPA director of aviation standards. "That should make it more widely available." He noted, however, that it would be some time before 82UL is widely available at airports.
The new standard will allow manufacturers to begin work on new engines designed to use low-octane unleaded fuel. Meanwhile, the search continues for a high-octane replacement for 100LL (see " Future Fuels," page 59).
AOPA is continuing to push for approval to use 82UL in many existing aircraft that don't require 100LL, including many originally certified for 80/87 avgas as well as those STC'd for autogas.
AOPA says that the FAA's proposed fuel strainer AD affecting most Cessna singles and Skymaster twins built since 1965 needs a dollop of common sense.
"You don't have to open up 50,000 Cessnas to find 300 out-of-spec fuel strainers," said Douglas C. Macnair, AOPA director of aviation standards. "The FAA has turned what should be a minor AD into a massive $3.1 million inspection program."
The proposed AD would affect some 50,000 Cessna 150, 152, 172, 177, 180, 185, 188, 206, 207, 210, and 337-series aircraft built between 1965 and 1986, costing owners between $60 and $300 per airplane. It calls for a check for about 300 defective fuel strainers manufactured between December 1996 and September 1997.
"AOPA agrees that the faulty strainers should be found and replaced," said Macnair. "But wouldn't it make sense to limit this AD to aircraft with strainer assemblies that were installed, modified, or replaced after December 1, 1996? A simple logbook check could determine which aircraft would need to be inspected."
That change would reduce the cost of the AD from $3.1 million to just over $100,000. Copiesof the proposed AD and AOPA's comments to it are available on the Web (www.aopa.org/whatsnew/newsitems/1998/98-3-027.html).
AOPA, representing all of GA, and the Air Transport Association, representing U.S. airlines, have teamed to help settle issues on GPS "sole-means" navigation and signal upgrades for precision instrument approaches.
Both GA and the airlines now back the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), using a limited number of satellites and ground stations — being installed now — to upgrade GPS for precision approaches nationwide. The airlines would also like individual Local Area Augmentation System (LAAS) sites at airline-served airports.
Accuracy, integrity, and reliability of GPS as a "single system" to replace VORs and ILSs will be studied. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory has been selected for an independent risk assessment study. The final report is due in January.
"GPS is already delivering cost-benefit advantages to GA," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The Hopkins study will address whether backup is required to assure the full benefit of GPS, including new instrument approaches at thousands more GA airports."
GPS/WAAS is to replace VORs for en route navigation and nonprecision instrument approaches, plus Category I precision instrument approaches at up to 5,000 GA airports. GPS/LAAS would enable multiple-runway Category II and III approaches at many airline-served airports.
AOPA is challenging a "disinformation" campaign against Palwaukee Municipal Airport, located in Chicago's northern suburbs.
"Half-truths and misleading statements have no place in public debate," said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of regional affairs. "The voters deserve the truth about Palwaukee Airport."
Airport opponents are petitioning for two nonbinding referendums calling for a nighttime flight curfew and greater weight restrictions on aircraft.
AOPA says that the opponents — Citizens for Airport Safety and the Environment (CASE) — are circulating distorted and inaccurate information, including half-truths about how the airport is funded.
"CASE's selective presentation of the facts also tries to imply that Palwaukee Airport doesn't contribute to the local economy," said Dunn. "But a study by the state of Illinois showed Palwaukee pumping more than $142 million into the area every year."
Countering CASE claims that a "large Palwaukee jet…could crash in your neighborhood," AOPA cited published statistics showing the odds of someone in a residence or other building being killed or seriously injured by a general aviation aircraft are approximately one in 30 million — about 50 times less likely than the odds of being killed by a shark.
Another community — Coral Cables, Florida — has decided to try preempting federal authority by regulating airspace. Earlier this year Las Cruces, New Mexico, passed an ordinance dictating how and where a pilot must operate an aircraft. AOPA is fighting both.
"Air commerce is specifically regulated by the FAA," said John S. Yodice, AOPA general counsel. "Safety would not be enhanced if the more than 5,000 public airport operators were to each adopt unique and conflicting flight rules not easily known to pilots."
The new Coral Gables ordinances require a minimum 1,000-foot altitude for aircraft overflying the city and prohibit "stunt" flying and flight training over the city. AOPA asked the city to comply with federal law.
"AOPA is concerned that Coral Gable's ordinances could set a precedent," said Melissa K. Bailey, AOPA director of airspace and system standards. "If a city believes that it can prohibit flight by training aircraft, there would appear to be no logical reason why a city could not prohibit any flight."
Meanwhile, in Las Cruces, AOPA continues to pressure the city to remove a June ordinance requiring pilots to strictly follow Aeronautical Information Manual-recommended airport traffic patterns and radio calls.
In response to AOPA's original request, Las Cruces City Attorney Fermin A. Rubio answered with a short letter stating, "The city of Las Cruces does not intend to take any corrective action as we believe the ordinance is lawful and reasonable."
That prompted a three-page response from Yodice, pointing out FAA preeminence in airspace matters and citing specific federal law and precedent-setting legal cases that clearly establish that only the FAA can regulate aircraft in flight.
Alaska. Anchorage: GA parking facilities at Anchorage International Airport are scheduled for reorganization, with construction of Runway 6L/24R and a new cargo facility. McKinley: Efforts to keep open the McKinley airstrip are continuing, with AOPA assisting both the Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation and the Alaska Airmen's Association.
Arizona. Chandler: A new airport layout plan is on hold pending final comments on a noise study. Phoenix: Changes in Class B altitudes and transition routes endorsed by AOPA should speed Phoenix traffic. Sedona: The AOPA-encouraged Sedona Airport Supporters Association now has more than 150 members. A petition in favor of the airport has approximately 500 signatures.
California. Concord: AOPA is working with the Mt. Diablo Pilots Association at Buchanan Field Airport on San Francisco Class B procedures and county-imposed tax increases of as much as 150 percent. Oakland: Proposed expansion of the GA portion of Oakland International is causing noise concerns from the cities of Alameda and San Leandro. AOPA is working with a task force exploring alternate traffic patterns. San Fernando Valley: Noise concerns involving Burbank and Van Nuys airports have caught the attention of local politicians and threaten to become a showdown on airport noise versus quality of life. AOPA is working to avoid major restrictions.
Colorado. Granby: A recent economic impact study shows that Granby Airport is worth $1,724,000 a year to Grand County.
Connecticut. Danbury: Changes in IFR procedures may be in the offing because of unmarked obstructions. AOPA is investigating. Groton: AOPA is working with local pilots to improve community relations. Noise is a major concern for residents around Groton/New London Airport.
Florida. Panama City: A new airport to replace the encroached-upon Panama City-Bay County International Airport is under study. Pensacola: ASN volunteer Ralph Parks has established an airport support group for Pensacola Regional Airport. Early efforts of the group are focusing on voluntary noise abatement procedures. Tampa: An ASOS at Tampa Bay Executive Airport may be removed because of the airport's status change from public to private use.
Louisiana. Baton Rouge: State money may now be used for GA airport repair and maintenance, thanks to a bill passed in the 1998 special session of the Louisiana Legislature. A separate legislative action dedicated $200,000 for airport projects for this year.
Massachusetts. A study commissioned by the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission will provide economic impact information for all airports in the commonwealth. Chatham: Electrical improvements and new T-hangars are slated for Chatham Municipal. Pittsfield: Pittsfield Municipal will install fences and electric gates, part of efforts to stop vandalism and runway incursions.
Nevada. Las Vegas: Changes suggested by the Airspace Users Group and AOPA for the Las Vegas Class B are taking effect slowly. A proposed north-south transition route is being flight-tested by local pilots.
New Jersey. Millville: Millville Municipal may soon be operated by the Delaware River Bay Authority. The authority recently took over operation of Cape May County Airport in Wildwood, New Jersey.
New Mexico. Changes proposed for the Talon MOAs are being investigated by AOPA. The changes would affect GA pilots disproportionately.
New York. Plattsburg: Security for GA hangars has been tightened at Clinton County Airport. AOPA is investigating.
Ohio. Willoughby: The city's planned conversion of a large hangar at Lost Nation Airport to a sports arena does not bode well for aviation interests, AOPA has warned. The City of Willoughby has been attempting to shut down the close-in reliever airport.
Oregon. AOPA is advising consultants and planning staff for an overhaul of Oregon's aviation plan. Also, a study completed this year shows that aviation in Oregon contributes $11.5 billion to the economy annually. Salem: AOPA is fighting a state fire marshal decision forbidding self-service aviation fueling.
South Dakota. A "tall tower" policy of the South Dakota Aeronautical Commission is working well to keep obstructions away from airports and VFR flyways.
Texas. Fort Worth: Meacham International Runway 9/27 has reopened after a concerted effort by local pilots and AOPA. Georgetown: The Georgetown City Council is slated to vote on an airport master plan for Georgetown Municipal Airport. AOPA is working to help local residents understand the value of the airport.
Utah. AOPA is working with Utah's joint legisla-tive task force to formulate a state funding program for Utah's airports. Tremonton: Citing EPA requirements and maintenance expenses, the city is considering closing Tremonton Municipal Airport. AOPA is working with local pilots to save the field.
Washington. Yakima: A proposed 100-foot-tall cellular telephone tower on the extended centerline of Yakima International Airport Runway 9/27 has been turned down by the Yakima County Commissioners. AOPA had opposed the tower.
The International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations' (IAOPA) European Region says that the European airspace modernization plan fails to take into account the needs of GA and aerial work aircraft.
"We believe that this report fails to recognize the importance of GA and aerial work and the 'unmanaged airspace' needs of this community," said Marcel Felten, senior vice president of the IAOPA European Region.
The airspace modernization plan, called "ATM 2000+," would extend air traffic control management into previously unmanaged airspace used by GA pilots.
AOPA said that pilots should not have to acquire costly new equipment just to maintain the ability to continue their current operations and airspace use.
"The ATM 2000+ project needs to be more open and clear in terms of commitment and vision for all airspace users with 'One Airspace — One Europe' in mind, regardless of which part of the airspace system the users fly in," said IAOPA.
IAOPA is the international organization representing pilots and aircraft owners of 46 nations on international issues.
AOPA's October 22 "Parade of Planes" to the Palm Springs Convention Center sets the stage for the largest AOPA Expo ever, from Friday, October 23, through Sunday, October 25, in Palm Springs, California.
FAA Administrator Jane Garvey will address Friday morning's kickoff general session. Friday's Opening Luncheon includes a "Countdown to 2003" tribute to The Wright Experience, a program re-creating and flying the three predecessor gliders that led to the Wright brothers' 1903 triumph. Saturday morning's general session plans to feature NASA Administrator Dan Goldin on space agency research for aviation. On Sunday morning, the AOPA management team reports to the membership. AOPA presents its Hartranft and Sharples awards for service to general aviation during Sunday evening's closing banquet.
There will be 430 exhibits in the sold-out Expo exhibit hall, plus 70 aircraft on static display right outside the convention center. More than 90 educational seminars (including 21 new topics) fill the three-day schedule. Included are popular weather, safety, aircraft ownership, and medical sessions.
The Expo's Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule makes weekend and one-day visits easy for pilots from nearby Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada. Palm Springs FBOs make it attractive: AMR Combs will offer free ground transportation (Thursday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.), a 50-cent discount on fuel, triple AAdvantage frequent flier miles on fuel purchases, daily prize raffles, and no handling fees.
Members unable to enjoy the real thing can check out the AOPA Online version. Virtual Expo '98 (www.aopa.org/expo/) goes "live" at 8 p.m. Eastern time on October 21.
For more information or Expo advance registration, call 888/GO2-EXPO (888/462-3976) or visit the AOPA Web site (www.aopa.org/expo/).
Special fly-in procedures will be in effect for AOPA Expo '98. Obtain them in advance. See them on the Web ( www.aopa.org/expo/) or call AOPA at 800/USA-AOPA (800/872-2672).
Arrivals from the north may also encounter special procedures in Las Vegas airspace because of the National Business Aviation Association convention there immediately preceding Expo. When available, these procedures will also be posted on the AOPA Web site.
Alaskan pilots are now eligible for the AOPA Aircraft Insurance Program, including coverages for both certificated and experimental aircraft.
"Very few insurance programs are available to pilots in Alaska," said AOPA Certified Program Director Amy Kochert. "AOPA pushed for this privilege because Alaskan pilots deserve the same insurance opportunities as those in the lower 48 states."
The AOPA Aircraft Insurance Program, underwritten by Great American, includes full coverage without family sub-limits and other extras not available in most other policies.
Formed five years ago, the AOPA Insurance Agency on May 1 became the largest GA insurance agency in the world, with the acquisition of AON Risk Services of Wichita. For a free quote, call 800/622-AOPA (2672) or visit the Web site ( www.aopaia.com).
The latest edition of the Seaplane Pilots Association's Water Landing Directory is now available.
"It's the most comprehensive seaplane base guide available, with 6 percent more information than the previous edition," said Mike Volk, SPA executive director.
Listings include locations by latitude/longitude and in relation to local radio navigation aids, hours attended, telephone numbers, landing lanes, mooring facilities, and services available. Many listings include easy-to-read illustrations.
The directory also includes flight-planning charts that allow seaplaners to "eyeball" possible cross-country routes. It is "cockpit friendly" — conveniently sized for use in the aircraft at 5.25 by 8.25 inches, and spiral-bound to lie flat when open.
SPA's Water Landing Directory, Fifth Edition, is available through the Seaplane Pilots Association at $19 for SPA members or $38 for nonmembers.
Call 301/695-2083 or visit the SPA Web site (www.seaplanes.org) to order.
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation now offers a fast-paced six-hour classroom refresher program for instrument pilots at selected locations nationwide.
"This is no 'theory' course like the ones you took to pass your written," declared ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg. "This one gives you insights on how pros deal with the real world."
The six-hour refreshers are held on Saturdays in conjunction with selected ASF Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics. Among the topics covered are:
Included in the $129 refresher is a course kit with FAR parts 1, 61, 67, and 91, along with the AIM and selected ASF Safety Advisors.
More information and course schedules are available by calling ASF at 800/638-3101 or on the ASF Web site (www.aopa.org/asf/firc/).
ASF is again offering a unique collection of aviation-theme greeting cards, just in time for the holidays. Last year, more than half a million were purchased.
Proceeds go to support ASF's nationally recognized free safety seminars. "What better way to enjoy the season than to help improve GA's safety record?" asked ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg.
Some of this year's holiday card designs include:
There are 10 designs from which to choose. Boxes of 25 cards with envelopes range in price from $22 to $27, and personalized imprinting is free when ordering three or more boxes. The last day to order in time for the holidays is Friday, December 4.
The cards may be viewed in full color and ordered on line . A mail-in order form may be downloaded, or orders may be placed by calling 800/308-4285.
Kamau B. Sadiki, AOPA 1291247, of Portland, Oregon, is the winner of a Sporty's handheld transceiver after attending the ASF "Weather Strategies" seminar held in Portland in June.
Sadiki started flying two and a half years ago and is now ready for his checkride.
"Weather Strategies" teaches pilots to think strategically in their approach to gathering weather data to get "the big picture." Other free ASF seminars discuss stall/spin accidents, low-level maneuvering flight, airspace, and pilot judgment.
Information and schedules for all ASF safety seminars can be found on AOPA Online (www.aopa.org/asf/seminars/).