IAOPA - the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations - was formed to make sure that general aviation gets fair treatment around the world.
In the 1950s, AOPA-U.S. became increasingly involved in international aviation as AOPA members started flying to other countries. And AOPA quickly realized that in most parts of the world, GA was a poor stepchild to the airlines. And pilots in many countries looked to AOPA for advice on forming similar associations in their countries. So AOPA looked at creating an "association of associations" to represent GA internationally, particularly before ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization of the United Nations.
IAOPA was founded in 1962 by AOPA-U.S. and the pilot and aircraft owners associations of Canada, Australia, South Africa, and the Philippines, with associations from Germany, Mexico, Italy, and Venezuela joining shortly after. ICAO recognized IAOPA in 1964.
VFR weather minimums, airspace classifications, hemispheric cruising rules, speed limitations in terminal areas, and procedures for mixing VFR and IFR traffic all were considered in ICAO working groups. All aspects of pilot training, certification, and currency, including validation of foreign pilot certificates, were shaped by ICAO groups. Communication, navigation, and surveillance equipment use rules and procedures emanating from ICAO headquarters in Montreal. Few, if any, aspects of aviation escape the purview of ICAO. IAOPA's observer status allows it to participate in the formation of these provisions so important to general aviation.
Today there are 64 member countries of IAOPA, with AOPA-U.S. being the largest of the associations. IAOPA shares headquarters with AOPA-U.S. in Frederick, Maryland. Every two years representatives from member countries come together for the IAOPA World Assembly, held this year in Toronto, Canada. For more information, see www.iaopa.org.
U.S. general aviation may dwarf GA in the rest of the world, but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot to be learned - both good and bad - from our fellow pilots from other countries. And those shared experiences are a big reason for convening biennial International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) World Assemblies. The twenty-third IAOPA World Assembly just concluded in Toronto, Canada.
"In spite of the ills, costs, and inconveniences placed on general aviation owners and pilots in the United States during the last decade, this conference is reassuring that we still have the best environment in the world for lightplane flying," said AOPA President Phil Boyer, who is also the IAOPA president. Boyer was elected to that post in 1992 and has presided over eight IAOPA World Assemblies. This year more than 100 pilots from 24 of the 63 IAOPA-member countries attended.
"Whether it be airports, airspace, taxes, fuel and insurance costs, or security restrictions, it only takes a brief conversation with any pilot living abroad to know how fortunate we U.S. pilots are," said Boyer.
Fortunate, because U.S. general aviation pilots aren't saddled - yet - with user fees. And as the pilots from other nations related their experiences with user fees, it became even more clear that, for the sake of GA, AOPA members in the United States must win the fight against FAA proposals to "tie the revenue stream" to services provided.
June 22, 2006