AOPA will have an even stronger voice about the shape of aviation's future. AOPA President Phil Boyer was recently elected chairman of the RTCA policy board - the technical organization that sets standards for aircraft and avionics and advises the FAA on communications, navigation, surveillance, and air traffic management (CNS/ATM) system issues.
"RTCA has expanded its traditional role from developing technical standards to helping the FAA set its course for modernizing the air traffic control system," said Boyer. "AOPA's strong position within RTCA ensures that GA is considered as modernization decisions are made and that pilots receive new benefits at a reasonable cost from CNS/ATM advancements."RTCA developed the standards to expand GPS from military use into GA cockpits. Later, the organization helped birth the wide area augmentation system (WAAS) for GPS, which gives GA pilots ILS-like precision guidance to thousands of GA runways. The widespread adoption of ILSs for civilian aviation was a product of RTCA. Even unicom was formalized by RTCA. But it's not just electronics. Right now, for example, AOPA is chairing an RTCA special committee to develop standards for UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) certification so that the drones can fit into the National Airspace System without threatening or restricting general aviation operations. RTCA (formerly known as the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics) was organized in 1935, and AOPA has been a member for almost as long. Today there are about 335 government, industry, and academic organizations holding membership. RTCA is chartered by the FAA as a federal advisory committee.
July 5, 2006