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Boyer underscores importance of airspace access, security during NAAA Annual ConventionBoyer underscores importance of airspace access, security during NAAA Annual Convention

Boyer underscores importance of airspace access, security during NAAA Annual Convention

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NAAA President Thomas "Jim" Avery
and AOPA President Phil Boyer at the
National Agricultural Aviation Association's
Annual Convention and Exposition.

AOPA is the leading aviation organization fighting to protect the rights of general aviation pilots in the United States. That's why the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) invited AOPA President Phil Boyer to address its pilots about airspace access and security issues during the NAAA Annual Convention and Exposition.

AOPA President Phil Boyer addressed about 400 aerial applicators during the convention on Tuesday in Reno, Nevada, touching on AOPA's efforts to ensure that the nation's airspace remains open to GA.

"AOPA has successfully worked with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the FAA to reduce the number of temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) and open the airspace back up to GA pilots," Boyer said. "Only two of the DOD-imposed TFRs have been proposed as prohibited areas. All of the remaining TFRs have changed or will be changing to AOPA's suggestion of national security areas.

"Aerial applicators have a vested interest in airspace access because their livelihood depends upon getting into the air and treating crops."

Boyer also spoke about how AOPA-backed candidates fared in the 2004 election, AOPA's Airport Watch program, and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Safety Advisors.

AOPA's 400,000-plus members give it the strong voice to negotiate airspace restrictions and proposed legislation that could harm general aviation. And AOPA's political clout was strengthened in the 2004 election.

"In the 2004 election, the AOPA Political Action Committee supported 105 candidates for Congress who have demonstrated their understanding of and support for general aviation - and 95 percent of AOPA-supported candidates were elected," Boyer said.

Support from members in Congress and efforts to educate other members of the government help prevent legislation from becoming law that would unfairly target general aviation.

Since September 11, 2001, government officials frequently have used GA as a scapegoat and unfairly attacked our freedoms with possibly well-intended but often misguided proposed legislation. For example, earlier this year Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation that would have imposed airline-style security screening on GA along with continuous pilot contact with the FAA; his approach also would have prohibited flight over any city with a population of more than 1 million or within 1,500 feet of any building.

"AOPA worked with Weiner, showing him that there were already safeguards in place governing flight over populated areas and that GA airport security measures had increased because of AOPA's Airport Watch program. Ultimately, he saw that his initial thinking was neither practical nor needed," Boyer said.

GA airport security and pilot certification since September 11 have improved dramatically. The Transportation Security Administration is receiving an average of seven calls a day on the GA Hotline (866/GA-SECUR), implemented as part of AOPA's Airport Watch program.

Boyer also touched on the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Safety Advisor Maneuvering Flight. Aerial applicators operate their aircraft low to the ground, so many of their accidents are in the maneuvering-flight category.

The NAAA is composed of more than 1,300 aerial application business owners, pilots, and those who service these businesses - many are also AOPA members. Aerial applicators often use GPS technology to pinpoint the areas they need to treat, allowing them to cover those areas without harming the crops or soil.

December 8, 2004

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