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What AOPA is doing to keep you flyingWhat AOPA is doing to keep you flying

Stalled in the Senate The U.S. Senate failed to garner enough votes to limit debate on the FAA funding bill after debate centered around nonaviation issues.

Stalled in the Senate

The U.S. Senate failed to garner enough votes to limit debate on the FAA funding bill after debate centered around nonaviation issues.

The parliamentary procedure considered by the Senate is called a cloture vote and would have limited debate to 30 hours. It would not have allowed any amendments to be offered. Had it passed, the full Senate likely would have approved the bill.

Unfortunately, the political debate over nonaviation provisions caused the FAA bill to be withdrawn from further consideration. The president had threatened to veto the measure.

“AOPA is disappointed that after so much work to reach compromise on the financing, it was derailed by other issues,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer.

The FAA is operating under a temporary funding measure.

“Our hope is that the Senate will be able to reach agreement on this crucial legislation during that time and pass a bill that funds the FAA, including the Airport Improvement Program and air traffic control modernization, and does so using the current tax-based funding system,” Boyer said.

Ethanol threatens auto fuel supply for some pilots

If you purchase auto fuel for your aircraft off the airport, make sure you test it for ethanol before you put it in your airplane.

With the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandating petroleum companies to produce 9 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2008 (nearly double that required in 2007), ethanol-blended automobile gasoline is becoming more prevalent around the country. And, because pumps serving the blended fuel may not be labeled, you won’t know if the fuel has ethanol unless you test it.

While AOPA has prevented ethanol from being blended with avgas, there are limits to what the general aviation industry can do to prevent auto gasoline from being blended.

In a handful of states, AOPA has been able to exclude premium gasoline from state laws that mandate ethanol-blending requirements. However, the laws do not ban premium gasoline from being blended.

Petroleum companies are replacing methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), the most common oxygenate, with ethanol to address environmental concerns surrounding MTBE. Ethanol-blended fuel not only could reduce an aircraft’s range and performance, but it also deteriorates seals in aircraft engines, harms fuel bladders and hoses, and attracts water, which promotes rust that can damage cylinders and pistons. It can even lead to problems in electric fuel pumps and cause inaccurate indications on fuel gauges.

To assist AOPA members in finding the best avgas prices around, the association offers fuel prices in AOPA’s Airport Directory Online. Search by a radius of a particular airport, and the fuel prices at those airports will appear with the facility’s information.


New IFR flight plans for GPS arrivals, departures at large airports

If you plan to file an instrument flight plan and receive a clearance to use RNAV standard instrument departures and standard terminal arrival routes (SIDs/STARs) after June 29, you’ll need to use the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) form to file the flight plan.

“SIDs and STARs typically are associated with the largest air carrier airports,” said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. “Most AOPA members will not be affected by this change.”

Pilots also need to file the ICAO flight plan for flights above Flight Level 180 that will use point-to-point navigation. Those flying VFR or flying IFR using charted RNAV routes can still use the FAA’s domestic flight plan form.

Pilots who file over the phone with FSS can simply provide the same information as in the past, but the briefer will use the ICAO form and may ask for additional information on the avionics in your aircraft.

Those who use DUAT/DUATS to file online will have to select which form to use. The ICAO form must be used to receive automatic assignments for RNAV SIDs and STARS, and point-to-point navigation. In-depth explanations of how to fill out each section of the ICAO form are available from DUAT/DUATs.

For more information, see the FAA Web site and AOPA’s air traffic services brief.

AOPA to get a say in UAV certification standards

AOPA has been asked to participate in the FAA’s aviation rulemaking committee to help develop standards for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The committee will study hazard and safety risks, registration process, pilot training requirements, crew medical requirements, requirements for system certification and continuing airworthiness, economic impact, international harmonization, communications latency and vulnerability. The association has asserted for years that UAVs should meet the same certification and operational standards as pilot and aircraft before they are allowed to operate freely in the National Airspace System.

“AOPA members continue to express their concerns about collision hazards with UAVs,” said Rob Hackman, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs, who will be representing the association on the committee. “AOPA wants UAVs to be integrated seamlessly into the National Airspace System so that there isn’t a negative impact on general aviation.”

Aircraft are only as old as they feel

When it comes to addressing corrosion or other maintenance issues in aging aircraft, AOPA wants to make sure the corrective measures are based on maintenance and usage, not solely on age.

That’s why the association is opposing a proposed airworthiness directive (AD) for de Havilland Twin Otters (DHC-6-1, DHC-6-100, DHC-6-200, and DHC-6-300). Viking Air now holds the type certificate for the airplanes.

The AD would require aircraft owners to create a schedule for initial and recurrent corrosion inspections based on Bombardier’s Corrosion Prevention and Control program, and then complete all of the inspections.

Even though the FAA hasn’t presented any evidence of an existing problem in the fleet, the proposed AD says, “Service experience indicates that as aircraft become older, they are more likely to exhibit indications of corrosion.”

“Unfortunately, the general premise of this proposed AD is true for any vehicle or structure made of metal,” Leisha Bell, AOPA manager of regulatory affairs, said in formal comments to the FAA. “Because of this AOPA feels the proposed AD is too broad and should be limited to aircraft within the DHC-6 fleet that have other factors that could induce the growth of corrosion and have a defined history of corrosion that has negatively affected the safety of flight.”

AOPA also reminded the FAA of its efforts to educate aircraft owners and operators of the structural concerns associated with aging aircraft, and the measures that can be taken to mitigate them. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation recently released the online course, Aging Aircraft. So far, more than 14,000 people have completed the course.


Chapel Hill officials recognize value of GA airports

In an encouraging move, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill officials are working to get a bill introduced into the state’s general assembly that would allow the university to create airport authorities in Orange County. This would allow the university’s 16 campuses and health care system to form airport authorities designed to create and run general aviation airports and make them eligible for federal funding.

Budget deficit derails Florida use-tax exemption

Out-of-state aircraft owners who fly into Florida within six months of purchasing their aircraft could still face a hefty use tax. The legislature adjourned in May without passing AOPA-backed legislation that would exempt aircraft that were in the state fewer than 21 days. A $5 billion state deficit caused many bills that included a tax exemption to fail in the Senate. AOPA will work to push through the exemption if the legislature reconvenes in a special session later this summer.

Proposed Delta MOA no good for Alaska pilots

The FAA will be conducting an environmental study of the proposed Delta Military Operations Area (MOA) complex in Delta Junction, Alaska. AOPA opposes the proposed MOA because it would shut off the only corridor that bisects the Pacific Alaska Airspace Complex, which covers about 60,780 square miles. When active, the MOA would sever the IFR airways between Fairbanks, Delta Junction, Northway, and Glennallen, and it would expose VFR traffic to high-speed military aircraft flying along a heavily traveled corridor. AOPA wants the proposed MOA to be divided into a high and low complex, so that the entire area does not need to be active.

Florida pilots rally to protect St. Augustine airport

Local pilots and AOPA members in St. Augustine banded together to save their airport from a takeover and potential closure. The St. Augustine Airport Authority will continue to run the airport.

At a meeting of the St. Johns County Commissioners, the St. Augustine Airport Pilots Association opposed the suggestion that the county commissioners run the airport. More than 70 airport supporters attended the commission meeting, at which the commission voted unanimously not to put the takeover proposal on the November ballot. Among those present was AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteer Mike Thompson.

No deal on Maine tax issue

You could get slapped with a steep tax bill if you fly into Maine within the first year after buying your aircraft. The Maine legislature gutted a bill that would have exempted out-of-state aircraft owners from the 6-percent use tax.

The last-minute change to the bill exempts charity and compassion flights from the 20-day limit that a new aircraft can be in Maine without being taxed. It does not exempt an aircraft’s time spent in the state because of poor weather or business or pleasure trips. Time spent in the state for maintenance is already exempt.

Aircraft owners who did not have to pay sales tax when they purchased their aircraft would be subject to paying 6 percent of the aircraft’s sale price. Those who paid a sales tax of less than 6 percent would be charged the difference.

AOPA had worked with the Maine aviation business community to persuade the governor’s office and the legislature to develop a solution. The bill, which was AOPA’s most promising option, was stripped because the Appropriations Committee wanted the funding from these taxes to address the projection that next year’s deficit would be about $500 million.

Renovations under way on GA airport in central Texas

AOPA Southwest Regional Representative Shelly deZevallos and AOPA Vice President of Local Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn recently met with Jim Craig, manager of Bird’s Nest Airport, to discuss ongoing renovation and expansion projects.

The terminal building already has been remodeled, the existing runway has been repaved and remarked, and a self-fuel island has been installed. Bidding is under way for a new runway, hangars, and other infrastructure developments at the privately owned airport located 12 miles northeast of Austin.

The airport’s progress comes courtesy of Houston businessman Ron Henriksen, a pilot who purchased Bird’s Nest intending to create a public-use field for the piston crowd. AOPA’s Dunn and deZevallos have met with Henriksen on several occasions to discuss the value and importance of expanding and updating the airport.


Has this happened to you?

You apply for life insurance from a company luring you with the promise of low premium rates for pilots. Later, you find out that the teaser rates are available only if you exclude the type of flying you do. AOPA knows how important it is to find a reputable insurance company that understands aviation and how it affects the life insurance purchase. The AOPA term life insurance programs underwritten by Minnesota Life have been insuring pilots and paying claims for more than 50 years. The group and individual programs are designed to insure virtually all types of flying. Start your search with a quote from the AOPA term life insurance programs. An experienced representative will provide you with a competitive quote to cover the type of flying you do. Call 888-879-2672 or visit the Web site.

AOPA Expo—Explore new horizons

AOPA Expo is returning to San Jose in November—when technology, innovation, and general aviation will come together. A hall packed with the latest exhibits, an aircraft display with the hottest makes and models, educational sessions, and fun-packed social events will take place against the backdrop of one of Northern California’s largest cities.

This year’s program is brimming with the latest essential information. Come early for the general sessions each morning, where AOPA executives and industry leaders will address the aviation issues that matter most to GA pilots. In addition, AOPA, in collaboration with the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, has prepared more than 60 hours of critical educational sessions, including topics on ownership, medical, proficiency and safety, and destination flying from industry experts. Also, you won’t want to miss the humor of AOPA Pilot columnist Rod Machado.

While at the show, take time to gather with old and new acquaintances at the opening luncheon, welcome reception, and closing banquet. Our Friday night party will be held at The Tech Museum, where you will enjoy great food and entertainment. You won’t want to miss the IMAX aviation film that will be played throughout the evening in the museum’s Dome Theatre. Attendees will also experience hands-on, interactive technology and science exhibits throughout the evening.

Come to 2008 AOPA Expo on November 6 through 8 to “explore new horizons,” enhance your aviation knowledge, and take advantage of everything San Jose has to offer. Visit the Web site for more information.


ASF launches third Chart Challenge minicourse

A solid understanding of approach charts is one of the keys to safe instrument flying. Knowing what’s on the chart is one thing. Knowing how to interpret and use it in the real world is something else entirely.

Helping pilots to bridge that cognitive gap is the idea behind the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s series of IFR Chart Challenge minicourses, the latest of which recently debuted on the ASF Web site. Based on the ILS or LOC/DME Runway 30R approach at Bakersfield, California, the new course is the third installment in a series that aims to help pilots grasp the finer points of instrument approach charts and the procedures they depict. And like its two predecessors (which covered VOR and RNAV approaches, respectively), it’s designed to make even experienced instrument pilots stop and think.

Of course, ILS approaches tend to be pretty straightforward from a procedural standpoint. This one is no exception, but as you’ll see, there are still plenty of opportunities to get tripped up by the chart. If you’re rusty on symbology, or don’t give the plate a thorough going-over, you might miss some important details.

Are you up for the challenge? It only takes 15 to 20 minutes to find out. Just visit the Web site and scroll down the page. You’ll find all three Chart Challenges, as well as many other interactive courses.

Oshkosh-bound? We’ll help you get there safely

With EAA AirVenture just around the corner, now is a great time for pilots planning a trip to Oshkosh to visit the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Web site. The Fly-In Safety: 2008 AirVenture Oshkosh page features a collection of resources that pilots need to operate safely at the world’s busiest airport (for one week in July, anyway).

“Even for seasoned GA pilots used to operating from towered airports, the extremely crowded environment of a busy fly-in can be unnerving,” said Bruce Landsberg, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. “The information available in the Fly-In Safety section can help a pilot prepare for and stay ahead of both the airplane and the situation.”

The centerpiece of the page is ASF’s Fly-In Safety Checkup, which contains practical tips on getting to and from the show without incident. For example: practicing slow-flight ahead of time to prepare for wide variances in aircraft speed during the arrival; using passengers to help watch for traffic and assist with other tasks; and utilizing sterile cockpit procedures within the busy airport environment. The Checkup is also available in PDF format so you can print it out.

In addition, the page offers a link to the AirVenture notam—required reading for anyone flying to or from OSH  and regional airports during the show—as well as video and audio clips that give pilots a taste of what awaits upon arrival. To check it out, visit the Web site.

ASF’s library at your fingertips

Every day, more and more pilots are discovering ASF’s fun, free interactive courses. But did you know that we have a wealth of “traditional” publications as well? Available online for your convenience, the ASF library contains an abundance of downloadable information on everything related to safe flying. In addition to our annual Nall Report on GA safety and several special reports, you’ll find an extensive series of Safety Advisors—short publications full of need-to-know information on topics that run the gamut from weather to technology, regulations, decision making, and more.

You’ll also find short Safety Briefs on specific topics, as well as helpful resources such as flash cards (runway safety, aircraft, and airspace), a flight planning form, a pilot report form, an intercept procedures card, and more. Find it all online.


In the 1990s, public-use airports were closing at an average rate of two per week. Over the past 10 years, thanks to the efforts of the AOPA Airport Support Network, AOPA member volunteers at almost 2,000 airports across the country have played an integral role in helping AOPA slow that trend. For more information on how you can help support your airport, visit AOPA Online.

Airport Action: Airport Economic Value

Washington: Will Vista Field (S98) located near the Columbia River in south central Washington be voted off the map? City and Port of Kennewick officials commissioned a study to determine the airport’s feasibility and the economic value of the property. Vista Field ASN Volunteer Marjy Leggett alerted AOPA of the study and has been rallying local airport supporters to speak in favor of the airport. Leggett and fellow AOPA members Carl Cadwell and Don Clayhold were invited to speak at a port meeting to present their views on the airport’s current use, its outlook in the present state, and what it could become. Local businessman Jim Katzaroff, president and chairman of Advanced Medical Isotope Corporation (AMIC), spoke in favor of Vista’s future. Katzaroff, who is not a pilot, told the council he purposely located his company at Vista because of its reliance on immediate access to air transportation, which is critical to his business. Additionally, Cadwell, Clayhold, and Leggett emphasized the economic value that AMIC and other businesses benefiting from the airport bring to the community, estimated at about $8.5 million plus employment. Notably, Washington Pilots Association president John Dobson strongly emphasized the importance of Vista Field to the state of Washington and how the airport’s loss would affect growth in area business and population. Dobson also gave an in-depth report to the media. Officials said a decision on the airport’s future may not be made until July 2009. In the meantime, Leggett will keep local airport supporters engaged and continue to educate the community on Vista Field’s current and potential value.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: A key driver in the battle over the airport in Kennewick is determining the economic value of land and defining the various components of its usage from services it provides to services it requires. What does your airport offer the community? Find out by visiting the ASN Web site and clicking on the Economic Impact Reports link.

Airport Closure

Maine: Another Maine mayor has proposed closing another Maine airport. This time Waterville LaFleur Airport (WVL) in south central Maine has been placed on the chopping block. Calling the airport “a big white elephant” at a city council meeting in April, Mayor Paul R. LePage said the city spent “$100,000 of taxpayer money to keep a few people having fun and the building warm.” Waterville LaFleur ASN Volunteer Ronnie Marrache alerted AOPA of the mayor’s most recent assaults. The city engineer who runs the airport and the city manager understand the airport’s significant value to the community. According to a 2005-2006 study, the total annual economic activity or output associated with WVL equates to $2.87 million. This amount is derived from fuel sales, hangar leases, and other on-airport activity, as well as the revenue from visitors using the facility. Marrache had been following AOPA’s efforts to save Biddeford Airport, located just south of Waterville, so he contacted AOPA for help as the master plan for the city is expected to be presented later this year. Early planning on the part of Al Lyscars, the ASN volunteer at Biddeford and fellow airport supporters, has been vital to their efforts to date. Hopefully, Marrache’s early action and watchful eye will prevent Waterville’s mayor from going down the same path.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Waterville’s mayor blindly discounted the airport’s profitability and potential. Fuel sales and hangars are the greatest on-airport revenue producers. Help your airport increase its bottom line with Aircraft Hangar Development GuideAOPA’s .

Airport Support: You said, 'Help save airports'

This spring, AOPA asked its members what they believe are the biggest issues general aviations faces today. In addition to the cost of flying, saving airports ranked at the top of the list. The AOPA Airport Support Network was created more than a decade ago to address this very issue and, to date, has been overwhelmingly successful slowing the rate of airport closures. But one airport lost is one too many, particularly if it’s yours. Learn firsthand how you can protect and promote your airport by joining the Airport Support Network (ASN). Complete the volunteer application process by July 30 and you will be eligible to attend our free breakfast meeting at AirVenture in Oshkosh as well as other ASN meetings and events throughout the year. To see if your airport needs an ASN volunteer and to learn how to apply, go online.

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