By AOPA ePublishing staff
AOPA President Phil Boyer concluded his two-year term as chairman of the RTCA board of directors at the annual meeting held this week. Because of his volunteer work on behalf of the entire aviation industry, general aviation is now on a more equal footing with the airlines when it comes to setting standards for the new avionics that will be part of air traffic control modernization.
“One of my goals as chairman was the affordability of new technology, not only for the airlines, but for the owner/operators of general aviation aircraft. We want policies and standards that give us advanced new capabilities without gold plating,” said Boyer.
RTCA is the technical organization that sets standards for aircraft and avionics and advises the FAA on communications, navigation, surveillance, and air traffic management (CNS/ATM) system issues.
Under the guidance of RTCA President David Watrous, the organization has taken a lead role in helping the FAA set its course for modernizing the air traffic control system. Boyer noted that Watrous is a GA owner/pilot and said that “AOPA’s strong position within RTCA continues to ensure that GA is considered as modernization decisions are made and that pilots receive new benefits at a reasonable cost from CNS/ATM advancements.”
RTCA published 10 standards-setting documents last year, including performance standards for ELTs, traffic information service (TIS-B), and portable electronic devices used in aircraft. The organization has also grown, with the largest membership in history, including dramatic growth in the number of international associates.
The work of RTCA is done almost entirely by volunteers who contribute their technical expertise to the betterment of aviation. In one year, RTCA held 62 public committee meetings over 139 meeting days, representing some 5,500 person-days of volunteer work at the public meetings alone.
RTCA developed the standards to expand GPS from military use on into GA cockpits. Later, the organization helped birth the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) for GPS, which gives GA pilots ILS-like precision guidance to thousands of GA runways. The widespread adoption of ILSs for civilian aviation was a product of RTCA. Even unicom was formalized by RTCA. But it’s not just electronics.
For example, AOPA sits on a RTCA special committee to develop standards for UAS (unmanned aerial systems) certification so that the drones can fit into the National Airspace System without threatening or restricting general aviation operations. RTCA (formerly known as the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics) was organized in 1935, and AOPA has been a member for almost as long. Today there are about 400 government, industry, and academic organizations holding membership. RTCA is chartered by the FAA as a federal advisory committee.
GA continues in the RTCA leadership chair as Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association, takes over from Boyer as RTCA board chairman for the next two years.
May 15, 2008