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SENATOR THINKS USER FEES ARE DEAD
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) says that, in his opinion, "user fees are dead." In a videotape address to more than 400 pilots attending an AOPA Pilot Town Meeting in Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 10, Nelson said that the Senate is working hard to reach a final agreement on the issue of FAA funding. He reminded pilots that he had coauthored an amendment to strip user fees from S.1300, the Senate Commerce Committee bill to "reauthorize" the FAA budget and spending. Although the Nelson-Sununu amendment failed by just one vote, Nelson said it "signaled that user fees are dead and it signaled that they are going to be out of the final FAA reauthorization bill." While the words are encouraging, AOPA President Phil Boyer said it's not over until the final vote. "AOPA will be working even harder on Capitol Hill, and when the timing is right, we'll be asking all of our members to weigh in with their senators," he said. See AOPA Online.
FAA, LOCKHEED NEED TO HEAR ABOUT FLIGHT SERVICE GLITCHES
They're listening, but pilots aren't reporting. The FAA and Lockheed Martin created the toll-free hotline (888/FLT-SRVC) to discover glitches pilots are experiencing with flight service and then use the information to fix them. The problem is that pilots are not reporting their complaints or compliments through the hotline. "This past summer, calls were topping 130 to 150 a week. Now the number of complaints ranges from 10 to 30 a week, on average," said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. "As Phil Boyer heard at this week's Pilot Town Meeting in Florida and from calls coming directly to AOPA instead of the hotline, we know more than 30 pilots a week are experiencing problems with flight service. We demanded this toll-free number as a way to help fix the flight service station (FSS) system, but it won't be effective unless pilots start reporting what's working and what's not. The FAA and Lockheed can't fix glitches they don't know exist." See AOPA Online.
CUSTOMS EXPANDS RADIATION SCREENING TO GA
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has implemented a program to scan general aviation aircraft for potential nuclear hazards as they enter the United States. The agency already scans more than 90 percent of cargo containers and also scans a percentage of ships, trucks, and cars entering the country for radiation, with the eventual goal of scanning 100 percent of all incoming goods, people, and vehicles. "In our conversations with Department of Homeland Security officials, they indicate that they are not singling out general aviation and that the initiative is part of a transportation-wide effort to secure the nation's borders," said Rob Hackman, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs. See AOPA Online.
PIPER TO STAY IN VERO BEACH, OFFICIALS CLAIM
Officials in Vero Beach, Fla., are already declaring victory in the competition to keep Piper Aircraft from moving to either Albuquerque, N.M., or Oklahoma City. All they need is a winning vote from the Indian River County Commission on Jan. 15 on a $12 million incentive package and a positive announcement from Piper officials, who for the moment aren't saying anything. County Commission Chairman Gary Wheeler told The Palm Beach Post that the outlook is "...very, very positive." He said Piper was facing huge moving costs, mostly from relocating, retraining, and retaining its work force. He said things are "ironed out," implying negotiations have taken place with Piper. Piper has some 1,100 employees at its current location.
DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL: AREA 51 GETS AIRPORT IDENTIFIER
Pilots avert your eyes! The airport identifier and location of Nevada's Groom Lake—you know, where they keep the space aliens at Area 51—has been appearing in flight-planning software and on handheld GPS receivers for most of the past year as KXTA (standing for what, extraterrestrial?). "We already know and it doesn't matter," said a public affairs official at Nellis Air Force Base. The Jeppesen FliteStar flight-planning program and AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner even identify it as Homey Airport and add, "Private, VFR, No Fee, Customs Info Unavailable." Well, there's a fee. The airport is deep within heavily restricted airspace, guarded by fighter jets. First come the legal fees, the probable confiscation of your aircraft, and a personal fee in the form of jail time or worse. See AOPA Online. Image Â© Google Earth
NEVER AGAIN ONLINE: PUSHING IT TOO FAR
Low clouds, darkness, and "get there itis" gather forces against a Robinson R22 helicopter pilot who needs a night cross-country flight to qualify for his commercial certificate. Read more in our latest installment of Never Again Online.
LUFTHANSA BUYS THREE CONSTELLATIONS
Three Lockheed Constellations awaiting restoration in this country have instead been sold to a branch of Lufthansa Airlines that restores aircraft once used by the airline. They were owned by Maurice Roundy and are among fewer than 20 remaining in the world fleet. Of those, few are flyable. See AOPA Online.
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
| Safety & Proficiency |
TAKE NEW SAFETY QUIZ ON EMERGENCY PROCEDURES
If faced with an in-flight emergency, would you be prepared to act? Emergency procedures are something every pilot memorizes and practices during training, but those skills are sometimes lost after the checkride is passed. Knowing and practicing emergency procedures can mean the difference between walking away from a problem and becoming a statistic. Put your knowledge to the test with the latest AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Quiz: Emergency Procedures. Need another challenge? Check out previous quizzes. Want to learn more about emergency procedures? Read the foundation's Safety Advisor on the topic.
FOUNDATION MAILS 130,000-PLUS FREE GPS COURSE CDs
As part of its continuing efforts to promote safety and proficiency, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation recently mailed nearly 133,000 free interactive course CDs to instrument-rated pilots. Each CD contained the foundation's popular GPS for IFR Operations course, which provides the background pilots need to use GPS within the IFR system, including flight-planning, en route, terminal, and approach procedures. As a bonus, the CD also contained the companion course, GPS for VFR Operations . Didn't receive a CD? No problem: Both courses are available online. Visit the foundation's Web page for a broad selection of free, easy-to-use safety courses, many of which qualify for the AOPA Insurance Agency's Accident Forgiveness program and FAA Wings credit.
IMPROVE YOUR SAFETY BY LEARNING FROM OTHERS
Gain invaluable knowledge about flying safely by learning from the mistakes of others. Using your ePilot personalization preferences, like "piston single-engine" or "turbine," the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Accident Database generates a list of accidents that have been added to the database in the past 30 days. If you haven't personalized your newsletter, select your aircraft preferences from the "types of aircraft" section on the ePilot personalization page.
TIME RUNNING OUT TO VOTE FOR FAVORITE 'AOPA PILOT' COVER
In anticipation of the magazine's upcoming fiftieth anniversary, we're asking for your help in choosing the best covers from the past half-century. We've picked our favorites from every year, but it's up to you to choose the best of the best. Visit AOPA Online to vote now. We even set up a special e-mail box, so you can tell us why you chose a cover, or which ones we may have missed. Results will be published in the March issue of AOPA Pilot.
FORGIVENESS IS AVAILABLE WHEN ACCIDENTS HAPPEN
As AOPA member Richard Massman taxied his airplane, it picked up a tiedown rope, causing a metal hook to catch and damage the tip of the prop. "There was minimal fault on my part," said Massman, who experienced the prop strike accident earlier this year at Clearwater Air Park in Clearwater, Fla. "But I was concerned about whether I should even file a claim because I thought it might work against me." When Massman called an AOPA Insurance Agency representative for advice, he received authorization "in a heartbeat" to get the prop fixed on an immediate basis without any hassles. What Massman didn't know is that he could take advantage of the AOPA Accident Forgiveness and Deductible Waiver Enhancement Program, just for participating in qualifying AOPA Air Safety Foundation safety education every six months. See AOPA Online.
TAX TIME IS FAST APPROACHING, ARE YOU PREPARED?
Our Pilot's Guide to Taxes has been reviewed and updated by a professional for the 2007 tax year. The guide provides information on how aircraft ownership and flying may affect income tax, sales and use tax, and personal property tax. There are sections on aircraft and flight training expenses, the "hobby loss" rule, and aircraft leasing. Also, check out the frequently asked tax questions.
Airport Support Network
AOPA AIRPORT ADVOCACY PROGRAM REACHES NEW RECORD
Ten years after the first Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteer was recruited to be AOPA's local eyes and ears, the program has a record number of participants. The ASN program starts 2008 with 1,916 volunteers located at airports nationwide, including more than 200 volunteers who have been with the program since its inception. AOPA ASN volunteers gather community support, promote their airports, and stay alert for potential problems, such as incompatible development. When a problem arises, they work with AOPA headquarters staff, area pilots, local politicians, and others to resolve it. But airports don't have to be in trouble to benefit from having an ASN volunteer. "By helping maintain an airport's positive image through events, open houses, and political activism, volunteers ensure that their airports are valued by the broader community," said Stacy Platone Swigart, program director.
| Quiz Me |
Here's a question asked by an AOPA member who contacted our aviation services staff through the AOPA Pilot Information Center. Test your knowledge.
Question: Can a handheld GPS be used when flying IFR?
Answer: Currently, handheld portable GPS receivers do not meet the appropriate FAA equipment standards in order to be legally used during IFR flight. However, a lot of pilots will use a handheld GPS for navigational reference purposes only, which isn't a bad idea while flying in today's dynamically complex airspace (i.e., temporary flight restrictions). The acting pilot in command should determine if the use of a portable GPS could interfere with other panel-mounted navigational equipment before using it based upon FAR 91.21. More information on the use of portable electronic devices is outlined in the FAA advisory circular "Use of Portable Electronic Devices Aboard Aircraft."
Got a question for our aviation services staff? The AOPA Pilot Information Center is is at your service. Call toll-free 800/872-2672 to speak to a specialist about any general aviation topic. Or e-mail to [email protected]. Send comments on our Quiz Me! questions to [email protected].
| Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Update |
The 2007 Catch-A-Cardinal is snug in its hangar in Georgia, and the winner of this beautifully refurbished Cessna Cardinal will be announced shortly. In the meantime, it's time to think about paint colors for the 2008 Get Your Glass Archer. Oxford Aviation designed this year's scheme, which employs aggressive styling with lines that will give the airplane an updated feeling. Although the scheme is set, you can help us rank five color choices. We'll show you the winner later on.
| Picture Perfect |
The AOPA Online Gallery allows you to download your favorite aviation images to use for wallpaper, send a personalized e-card, and order high-quality prints to be shipped directly to your doorstep. Search the hundreds of fabulous images in our archives and select your favorites today! For more details, see AOPA Online.
| Weekend Weather |
|See the current weather on AOPA Online, provided by Jeppesen. |
| ePilot Calendar |
UPCOMING FLYING DESTINATIONS:
Lake Havasu City, AZ. A Vintage Mooney Group Fly-In takes place January 12 at Lake Havasu City (HII). Contact Phil Corman, 805/227-0480, or visit the Web site.
To submit an event to the calendar or to search all events visit AOPA Online. For airport details, including FBO fuel prices, see AOPA's Airport Directory Online.
FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR REFRESHER CLINICS
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Jackson, Miss.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Rochester, N.Y., Jan. 19 and 20. Clinics are also scheduled in San Jose, Calif., and Baltimore, Jan. 26 and 27. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online. Can't make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.
AOPA AIR SAFETY FOUNDATION SAFETY SEMINARS
AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars are scheduled in Ft. Worth, Tex., Jan. 14; Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 15; El Paso, Tex., Jan. 16; and Albuquerque, N.M., Jan. 17. The topic is "Top 5 Mistakes Pilots Make." For details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.