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Protecting GA is an international effortProtecting GA is an international effort

Protecting GA is an international effort

By Warren D. Morningstar

Aviation makes the world a small place, which is not always a good thing. Sometimes international rules and regulations can adversely affect general aviation in the United States. That’s why AOPA formed the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) in 1962.

And that’s why there was an international GA summit meeting on Feb. 5 at AOPA’s Frederick, Md., headquarters. The meeting was between IAOPA and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“We agreed to continue and expand the cooperation between our two international organizations to safeguard general aviation access to airspace and airports, and to reduce the costs of flying,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer, who also serves as IAOPA president.

“More and more, we have to bundle our forces, because the kind of flying that we like is in danger,” said FAI President Pierre Portmann. He said that increasing demands for more airspace for airline operations meant increasing regulatory pressures in Europe to “get us out of airspace in certain places or making general aviation access to airspace more complicated or even more expensive.”

The summit meeting stemmed from the success of a joint statement presented by the two organizations at the recent International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO’s) 36th Assembly. It was instrumental in delaying implementation of new international language proficiency standards, which would unnecessarily penalize pilots exercising VFR privileges in controlled airspace.

While FAI is known primarily for establishing the rules for world aeronautical competitions—and as the keeper of aviation records—the organization plays a larger role in promoting and protecting general aviation, particularly air sports.

“We in U.S. aviation are not insulated from the rest of the world,” said Boyer. “What happens on the international stage can ultimately affect us, which is why GA organizations worldwide must work together.”

For example, surface observations became METARS and TCAs became Class B due to changes in international regulations. And you may hear a controller tell you to “line up and wait” if some international regulators get their way.

“It’s our duty as leaders of our organizations to get together when our pilots all over the world are in danger,” said FAI’s Portmann. “We want our children to continue to fly because flying is still a magnificent thing.”

Watch an interview with Pierre Portmann

February 6, 2008

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