General aviation has come a long way, but the journey will never end, AOPA President Phil Boyer told the members of the Southwest chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives in Mesa, Ariz.
“While the threat of user fees remains the most critical near-term issue, the environment and security are clearly the next big challenges for both general aviation pilots and for airports,” Boyer said during his keynote speech on July 14.
He cited leaded avgas as an environmental issue that will have to be resolved soon. “Today there is no alternative octane booster that will work for all piston engines flying,” said Boyer, “but we must continue our research into alternative fuels and propulsion technologies.”
Boyer said that AOPA was an active partner with industry and government to find ways to enable existing GA aircraft to continue flying in a lead-free environment. AOPA has also successfully lobbied Congress for funds to continue the FAA’s research into non-leaded fuel and engine technologies.
Boyer also talked about the critical importance of airports to AOPA and its members. “Preserving, protecting, and promoting GA airports is so vital that, over the long term, we devote more advocacy resources to airports than any other issue,” Boyer said.
Within the association’s government affairs division, there are some 19 people who devote some or all of their time to airport advocacy. “We even have one vice president who is devoted exclusively to local airport issues,” said Boyer.
He told the gathered airport executives that much of AOPA’s success in preserving GA airports is a credit to the1,944 volunteers of the AOPA Airport Support Network.
“Not only are they our eyes and ears to alert us to potential issues, they frequently do much of the heavy lifting when it comes time to fight.” Boyer said that AOPA and the local Airport Support Network volunteer were the best friends an airport manager could have.