Laurence Balter, member of the Governor's
Advisory Panel on Transportation; AOPA
President Phil Boyer; and AOPA Airport
Support Network volunteer Hank Bruckner
It was a very busy week for AOPA President Phil Boyer. He was on the Big Island of Hawaii to attend a critical four-day Aviation Issues Conference this week to work closely with prominent leaders from Congress and regulatory agencies to discuss key issues affecting GA - with his focus on issue #1: FAA funding.
"The meeting was heavily focused on the funding issue and particularly on the FAA's reauthorization bill that is needed as the current law expires in 2007," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "AOPA continues to work to ensure that a 'new funding structure' doesn't mean 'user fees' for general aviation."
FAA funding was also top of mind for the 125 pilots who attended Boyer's Pilot Town Meeting in Honolulu on Thursday. This was only the second time AOPA hosted a PTM in Hawaii; the first was in 2002, shortly after Class B airspace reopened in the aftermath of 9/11.
Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle sent Boyer and Hawaii AOPA members a letter of welcome. The letter was presented by GA pilot and aircraft owner Laurence Balter who was recently appointed to the Governor's Advisory Council for transportation.
"Appointing Balter was a good move for general aviation. In Hawaii, GA is one of the primary means of transportation, so it is important that it remain affordable," Boyer said. "These aren't your $100 hamburger flights. For example, we learned of a doctor who flies inter-island in his Cirrus to provide medical care at various locations."
Boyer also shared with attendees a letter to the group from Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). The ranking Democrat on the Senate aviation subcommittee, Inouye pledged to AOPA members his support "to work together to ensure that federal entitlement money is available to our nation's smallest airports."
Advances in technology and the changes they will bring were another hot topic. And one of the advances Boyer touched on was the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), which brings ILS-like precision approaches to thousands of general aviation airports that don't have them today.
Pilots expressed concern about the FAA's cutback of traffic information services (TIS), which AOPA had opposed. TIS equipment in aircraft provides traffic information through a Mode S transponder when the aircraft is within the radar coverage of certain terminal radar systems. (See AOPA's Air Traffic Services brief for the TIS cancellation schedule.)
Boyer also promoted the AOPA Airport Support Network, which serves as a means for AOPA to connect with pilots on the local level to help them protect, promote, and defend their small airports.
"Honolulu has an active ASN volunteer, Hank Bruckner," Boyer said. "And he was instrumental in making the PTM a success."
January 13, 2006