The FAA has released its 2009 Flight Plan, laying out priorities and goals for the coming year, including some requested by AOPA.
In comments filed in August, AOPA asked the FAA to actively support preserving and improving America’s general aviation airports; increasing all-weather access to GA airports; and finding an unleaded alternative to today’s low-lead avgas.
The FAA’s Flight Plan, released Oct. 28, addressed two of those concerns but failed to commit on the crucial issue of preserving and improving airports.
“The top concern for pilots—the need to maintain and improve existing GA airports—must be recognized by the FAA, especially as we transition to a new president of the United States,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. “Without airports, the rest is irrelevant.”
In responding to the need for all-weather access, the FAA committed to develop and publish 500 GPS-WAAS approaches in 2009 but did not look farther into the future. AOPA had asked the agency to publish 300 such approaches each year through 2013.
While draft versions of the Flight Plan did not include a commitment to pursue finding an avgas replacement, the final document indicated the FAA’s commitment through 2009 and beyond. To find a replacement for leaded avgas, the FAA promised to “continue working with the general aviation community to test, adopt, and certify a new aviation gasoline fuel standard.”
“Finding a lead-free alternative to avgas is crucial to the long-term viability of general aviation,” said Cebula. “It is encouraging that the FAA is prepared to partner with the industry to make it happen.”