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AOPA says 'thanks, but no thanks' to charity sightseeing flight drug testing exemptionAOPA says 'thanks, but no thanks' to charity sightseeing flight drug testing exemption

Ms. Ava Mims, Deputy Director
Federal Aviation Administration
Flight Standards Service, AFS-2
800 Independence Ave. S.W.
Washington, DC 20591

Re: Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Exemption No. 7112, Regulatory Docket No. 2964B

Dear Ms. Mims:

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, representing nearly 359,000 of the nation’s pilots, is in receipt of the above-referenced exemption granted under your signature dated February 2, 2000. We thank you very much for your efforts on our behalf and the behalf of our members.

While this blanket exemption is in response to our July 2, 1999, petition for exemption, AOPA must advise you that the conditions and limitations imposed under this exemption are such that we are prevented from implementing it. In order to satisfy some of these conditions and limitations, our association would have to deal with "event sponsors" who are, for the most part, not members of our association or subject to the reasonable control of our association. In petitioning for this exemption, it was our intention that we would be dealing only with our pilot-members who would participate in such events, and for whom we have a routine course of dealings as well as a reasonably high confidence level in their sobriety and legal compliance disposition.

Specifically, for each event conducted under this exemption, our association would be required to obtain sufficient information from the "event sponsor" (who most likely will not be a member of our association or maybe not even an aviation-related organization) in order to file annual detailed reports with the FAA. It also requires that the "event sponsor" provide to our association a signed statement regarding the limitation on the number of annual events it has conducted and, of course, procedures and documentation to assure the reasonable accuracy of the statements and information obtained from the sponsors. Additionally, upon review of recent individual exemptions granted by the FAA for both charity and community events, it seems these conditions do not exist in the same degree of detail.

We do not question the integrity and motivation of any event sponsor, past or future. We just do not know them nor do we see how we can reasonably assure sufficient administrative ease and cooperation to be comfortable with implementing the exemption. Dealing with them would be an unfamiliar role for our association, one that we have not fulfilled in the past and do not feel qualified to fulfill in the future.

Therefore, until we can work with the FAA to provide a more workable exemption for our members, we ask that the FAA continue granting exemptions on a case-by-case basis. It is our understanding that the administration involved in granting these exemptions has been streamlined to the point they are no longer problematic or an excessive workload for the FAA staff.

In the very near term, we hope the FAA will implement rulemaking directly relating to the issue of exempting "charity" and "community" sightseeing flights from the current drug testing requirements, thus eliminating the need for these exemptions entirely.

Because of the growing pressure to resolve this issue prior to the start of the upcoming flying season, I eagerly await the opportunity to meet and discuss this matter with you and/or your appropriate staff. Please contact me at 301/695-2221 at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your consideration.


Dennis E. Roberts
Vice President/Executive Director
Government and Technical Affairs
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

March 7, 2000

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