You never know who will show up at the AOPA Fly-In and Open House. This year AOPA President Phil Boyer welcomed a high-ranking FAA official who is also a major general aviation devotee.
Boyer, during his annual presentation before hundreds of members, introduced Hank Krakowski. Earlier in the day Boyer took him on a personal tour.
Watch a video of Krakowski at Fly-In.
Krakowski became chief operating officer of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization last October. He’s a former airline captain and airshow pilot. Krakowski has owned airplanes for 30 years and also likes to teach as a flight instructor and turn a wrench as an A&P mechanic. He’s responsible for all aspects of the air traffic control system, including 38,000 employees, and will play a critical role as the system adopts new technologies.
Among his other duties, Krakowski has been put in charge of the NextGen (next generation) program rather than having it reside with another organization that doesn’t interface with the FAA.
“I’m going to keep you in mind as we move along [with NextGen].... How we can we give you more access to airspace that you currently can’t get into?” Krakowski asked. “As long as I’m in the job, you’re going to have a radio scope on that from my point of view, because I certainly want to have that efficiency when I fly.”
Boyer also updated members on user fees and the FAA funding debate. He described the issue as being in a “holding pattern, circling around a waypoint called the Senate.”
Looking toward the future, Boyer talked about the many challenges facing GA, such as avgas availability and cost, environmental concerns, and airport encroachment. But all of that doesn’t mean much if there aren’t pilots around to fly the airplanes.
Over the coming months, AOPA plans to announce a series of initiatives for growing the pilot population. One AOPA Project Pilot mentor asked how much money AOPA was willing to dedicate toward it on an annual basis.
“All you need,” said AOPA Board of Trustees Chairman William C. Trimble from the crowd.
With the obvious support from the board, Boyer said it would be in the millions.