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

Power of GA reaches Senate If 415,000 passionate, vocal AOPA members and strong associations can make a difference on general aviation issues on Capitol Hill, imagine what a united army of legislators can do to help. The Senate recently formed the General Aviation Caucus to “work with pilots, aircraft owners, the aviation industry, and relevant government agencies to ensure a safe and vibrant environment exists for GA in our country.” Sens.

Power of GA reaches Senate

If 415,000 passionate, vocal AOPA members and strong associations can make a difference on general aviation issues on Capitol Hill, imagine what a united army of legislators can do to help.

The Senate recently formed the General Aviation Caucus to “work with pilots, aircraft owners, the aviation industry, and relevant government agencies to ensure a safe and vibrant environment exists for GA in our country.” Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) will co-chair the caucus. The House formed its GA Caucus in April.

“At a time when NextGen is being developed and a long-term FAA funding solution is in question, the House and Senate GA caucuses will be instrumental in carrying our industry’s message,” said Lorraine Howerton, AOPA vice president of legislative affairs. “Their support will add weight to the issues we are advocating for pilots and aircraft owners every day.”

Upon forming the caucus, Begich and Johanns pointed out how important GA is to their states. Begich said that aviation is a “primary mode of transportation” in Alaska, while Johanns explained that GA “helps keep our state connected, supports economic development, and helps our businesses operate efficiently.”

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the first senator to join the caucus, is an avid pilot with more than 10,000 hours and has participated in many GA events, including EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He has defended GA on aviation taxes, the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone (now a special flight rules area), and more.

Pilots should contact their senators and encourage them to join the GA Caucus.


WAM: New technology tracks GA aircraft

A new surveillance system introduced in Colorado allows air traffic controllers to track aircraft in areas not covered by radar.

The new system, called Wide-Area Multilateration (WAM), requires no new equipment for aircraft and uses a network of relatively small sensors on the ground to pinpoint the location of aircraft in remote, mountainous regions. The sensors send out signals that are received and sent back by aircraft transponders.

Surveillance in nonradar areas can improve the safety and efficiency of flights in the near term while the FAA transitions to satellite-based surveillance in the NextGen air transportation system. AOPA has been involved in many NextGen planning groups and has worked to ensure that aircraft have access to airspace not covered by radar and can make the best use of existing technologies.

“AOPA advocated strongly for access to nonradar areas in the recent mid-term NextGen task force,” said AOPA Senior Director of Airspace and Modernization Heidi Williams. “By using existing equipment in aircraft, this new system can give pilots access to one of the key capabilities of NextGen starting right away. It is a great transition tool while the FAA puts the infrastructure in place for the next stages of modernization.”

The FAA plans to use WAM in the near term as a bridge to Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), the surveillance system that will be the backbone of the satellite-based NextGen air transportation system. WAM will then serve as a backup to ADS-B in the event of a GPS outage and provide an additional source of traffic broadcast, according to the FAA.

CBP announces changes to eAPIS

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has made changes to its Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) to improve online filing of reports for traveling into or out of the United States ( see “eAPIS,”).

AOPA members had reported problems and concerns with the filing system, and AOPA worked with CBP to identify issues and improve functionality in eAPIS. The improvements to the system are meant to streamline the process by eliminating redundancies and unnecessary information.

“AOPA has been working closely with CBP on this to make the process more transparent and user-friendly for the member, and these improvements are a great step in that direction,” said Brittney Miculka, AOPA manager of aviation security.

The new changes will eliminate the need to re-enter information for certain fields and make other refinements, including no longer requiring certain information about the flight crew. The 24-hour emergency contact information is now saved and will pre-fill so it need not be completed unless it has changed; check boxes are now included to indicate that the owner of the aircraft is the same as the operator, or that the address while in the United States is the same as the permanent address; a permanent address is no longer necessary for crew other than the pilot; and information about place of birth is no longer required for pilot and crew. To avoid confusion, the aircraft tail number field will no longer accept entries beginning with two numbers, to ensure pilots of U.S. aircraft include the “N” in front of the number.

Any general aviation aircraft arriving in the United States from a foreign location or departing the United States for a foreign location must submit passenger, crew, and flight information to Customs and Border Protection through eAPIS. AOPA has resources for pilots seeking further clarification about using eAPIS. Find answers to the most frequently asked questions, and take the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s online course, Understanding eAPIS .

Revised LASP proposal in the works

During a recent aviation security advisory committee meeting (ASAC), government and industry officials received an update on the proposed Large Aircraft Security Program that was forced back to the drawing board earlier this year.

The Transportation Security Administration is developing a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) for LASP that seeks to enhance general aviation security while incorporating the feedback received from pilots, airport officials, and others during the program’s initial public comment period. The SNPRM will have a 60-day public comment period for the aviation industry to weigh in with their comments.

AOPA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Craig Spence, who is a member of the ASAC, attended the meeting and is spearheading AOPA’s efforts to ensure that future iterations of the LASP are not overly burdensome and costly to GA pilots.

“We will work with the aviation industry and government officials to make sure the upcoming proposal is not cumbersome for pilots,” Spence said.

During the meeting, the committee also said that it would form a GA subgroup that would focus specifically on security issues. AOPA plans to be actively involved in that group as well.

The ASAC is part of the TSA and is charged with recommending improvements in security methods, equipment, and procedures for civil aviation. The committee has remained dormant for more than three years, and AOPA is encouraged that the TSA has decided to re-engage the group.


October ‘Aviation Appreciation Month’ in Georgia

Aviation plays a major role in Georgia’s economic and transportation systems, with general aviation airports connecting rural areas of the state, and organizations such as Gulfstream Aircraft, Cessna Aircraft Company, Lockheed Martin Aircraft, Delta Air Lines, and Robins Air Force Base employing thousands of residents. At the urging of the Atlanta Aero Club, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a proclamation honoring aviation’s contributions to the state and naming October “Aviation Appreciation Month.” AOPA Southeast Regional Representative Bob Minter was on hand for the signing at the governor’s office.

AOPA works to protect glider ops, airport land in California

California pilots are mobilizing to protect a half-century-old glider operation at Hemet and halt a land grab that would remove five acres at busy Palo Alto Airport. AOPA Vice President of Local Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn recently returned from a week in California where he met with pilots, FAA officials, and elected representatives to defend general aviation in Hemet, Paso Robles, and Palo Alto. AOPA sent a letter to the Riverside County Economic Development Agency expressing its opposition to the plan to ban glider operations.

Condor expansion would degrade air safety

Proposed changes to the Condor Military Operations Area (MOA) near Sugarloaf Mountain, Maine, would degrade safety for general aviation and military pilots who would be operating in the expanded airspace, AOPA recently told the Air National Guard. Commenting on a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for a proposal that would expand the existing Condor 1 and 2 MOAs, AOPA expressed safety concerns about the plan.

AOPA explains Airport Watch at Wyoming Aviation Conference

State aviation officials and pilots gathered in Cheyenne, Wyoming, for the first Wyoming Aviation Conference. AOPA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Craig Spence spoke about what everyone involved in general aviation can do to help enhance security at their airports. A proven success is AOPA’s Airport Watch Program. AOPA partnered with the Transportation Security Administration to create this voluntary program, which is modeled after the popular Neighborhood Watch.

Conference highlights efforts to secure aviation’s future

Aviation officials from around the country expressed support for AOPA initiatives and discussed their efforts to partner with industry stakeholders at the Seventy-Eighth NASAO Annual Convention and Trade Show, held in Tucson, Arizona. State aviation directors from around the country voted to officially partner with AOPA to advance the GA Serves America campaign. At the event, AOPA discussed the association’s work to promote GA and represent pilots, and officials talked about their efforts to seek input from industry groups.


AOPA Medical Services Program offers tools to help pilots extend their flying years

Maintaining good health is a goal shared by all. But for a pilot it’s not just a goal, it’s a necessity. With this in mind, AOPA has developed an exciting new program that will provide all the tools and support necessary for you to take charge of your health—the AOPA Medical Services Program (see “ Don’t Get Lost”). This program offers valuable services that can assist you with FAA issues regarding your medical certificate and provide you with a variety of tools to help manage your health. Enrollment in the program will also provide you with support from our medical certification specialists who are in regular contact with FAA aeromedical reviewers who can help track the progress of your medical certificate application. With the comprehensive coverage, AOPA’s medical certification specialists will also offer a thorough review of your complete medical record package before the file is submitted to the FAA. You will also benefit from WorldDoc, a comprehensive health Web site where you’ll find personalized risk assessments, a pharmacy finder, details on specific medical conditions, and detailed information on medications. The program also provides you with access to HealthVault, a secure online medical record storage program that allows you to store your medical records in one convenient place. Health Vault enables you to access and manage your records anytime from anyplace. You can even share your records with your health care providers. Additionally, you’ll receive a bimonthly pilot health newsletter, written by doctors who are also pilots. Plus, you’ll enjoy a free prescription drug discount card offering savings of 15 percent to 60 percent. Comprehensive enrollment in the AOPA Medical Services Program is only $99 per year and will give you full access to all the benefits and services offered by the program. Other plans are available. Take control of your health; enroll in the AOPA Medical Services Program today. Visit the web site to learn more.

Protecting your certificate is a wise investment

Finding new ways to save money and reduce everyday expenses has become a way of life. Things that aren’t deemed a necessity are often the first things cut from the family budget. What constitutes a necessity can at times be misleading. Sometimes a small investment may end up saving you more money in the long run.

Take the AOPA Legal Services Plan. Enrollment in the plan is a modest upfront investment, as little as 10 cents a day for most pilots, which could one day save you thousands of dollars.

The AOPA Legal Services Plan is wise protection in case of an unforeseen emergency. Most pilots don’t think they’ll need legal assistance because they’re good, careful, and experienced pilots, or because they don’t fly frequently. But the fact is the FAA initiates thousands of enforcement actions annually. With today’s ever-changing and complex aviation regulations, violations can result from a simple miscommunication or misunderstanding.

Check out our case studies online. One member’s enrollment in the plan saved him from what could have amounted to a $10,000 fine.

The Legal Services Plan is a wise investment that could not only save you money; it could save your certificate. Enroll or renew your coverage today, online or by phone, 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672). All cases are different. Past results do not guarantee future successes. See the plan description for complete information on coverages and exclusions.


New! Interactive map pinpoints takeoff accidents

It may seem taking off is one of the easier parts of flying, but just one glance at ASF’s latest Google-based takeoff accident map quickly dispels that thought. The colorful pinpoints, which dot the map, are the harbingers of troublesome news, and unfortunately there are quite a lot of dots. Would it surprise you to know takeoff accidents average about one every other day? Worse, whether uphill, downwind, overweight, or under-skilled, about one-sixth of these mistakes prove fatal. That’s the sad and sobering truth.

The AOPA Air Safety Foundation is committed to help pilots be safe, but your involvement is paramount to achieve success. So please, use the map to delve deep into what happened, and more importantly find out why. That morsel of knowledge may save you one day. Here’s how: Scroll over the points to read more about individual accidents and click on specific accidents to read the full report in the ASF Accident Database. You can also narrow down your investigation by date and by make and model and find additional tips on how (and when) to make it off the runway. The takeoff accident map is modeled after previously released interactive maps depicting landing accidents and fuel management accidents.

Protect yourself and your passengers and keep your flight from becoming a dot on the map.


12/1/2009 Marietta, Ga.
12/2/2009 Birmingham, Ala.
12/3/2009 Pensacola, Fla.
12/7/2009 Palm Beach, Fla.
12/8/2009 Tampa, Fla.
12/9/2009 Towson, Md.

These programs are made possible by gifts from individual pilot donors to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Seminar dates are tentative. For final dates, please visit the Web site.

Now online:
Real Pilot Story: The Impossible Turn

Joining the ranks of ASF’s Real Pilot Stories series is one pilot’s personal account and video footage of his aircraft’s engine malfunctioning soon after takeoff. Take the Mooney’s right seat as danger lurks only seconds away after takeoff and experience from the cockpit the incredible events as they evolve, including the outcome of the impossible turn back to the airport. Listen to the pilot and air traffic controller talk about lessons learned from this flight. Their perspective and advice may prove invaluable should you face a similar situation one day. The video camera installation was spurred by a previous flight during which the pilot wished he had been able to capture the pretty sight of a night approach to a ski resort, and thus he installed a panel-mounted camera in his Mooney only days before the troubled flight.

ASF spotlight on aircraft icing

A little bit of ice won’t spoil your flight, right? Think again: A layer of ice no thicker or rougher than a piece of coarse sandpaper can reduce lift by 30 percent and increase drag up to 40 percent. Even aircraft equipped for flight into icing conditions are significantly affected by ice accumulation on unprotected areas such as antennas, flap hinges, wing struts, cowlings, etc. And don’t think icing danger lurks during winter months only; ice can form any time an airframe encounters visible moisture in freezing temperatures, so be careful in late fall and early spring seasons, too.

Not convinced? Explore this important topic’s free resources conveniently gathered in one spot on the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Web site. Experience a chilling reenactment of an actual airframe icing accident. It will make you a believer fast. Then take topic-related award-winning courses and challenge your knowledge with ASF quizzes, including one on wing contamination. Recognize icing’s danger and evaluate your options before your next flight.


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.


National: Across the country, more than 2,000 Airport Support Network volunteers play a vital role as AOPA’s figurative eyes and ears on the ground—an “early warning system” watching out for local airport issues and reporting back to headquarters. But although the network has achieved good coverage, we’re not content to stop at 2,000. There are still lots of public-use airports in the country without volunteers.

Of course, in this day and age, it’s not always easy to find pilots who have the time to volunteer. But awareness is an equally large part of the challenge, which is why we’re working with state aviation associations and other groups in an effort to recruit new volunteers. For example, pilot groups and state aviation offices in Oregon, Virginia, Colorado, and Georgia all have offered to help AOPA recruit volunteers for their respective states’ airports.

The same goes for the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), which recently ran a notice soliciting potential volunteers in its newsletter. The mutual effort is one way in which increased cooperation between AOPA and other aviation organizations has begun to bear fruit.

Are you thinking about volunteering, or do you know someone who might like to? Prospective ASN volunteers should be certificated pilots based at the airport for which they hope to be appointed. The time commitment can vary greatly depending on the issues that arise and the volunteer’s ability and/or willingness to respond. Although some volunteers go above and beyond the basic requirements, there are really only two basic responsibilities. They are: to be “in the know” about issues at the airport, and to alert AOPA if anything threatens it.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: If you’re a volunteer, consider suggesting that your area pilot group and/or state aviation office help recruit other volunteers. Consider applying yourself, or contact AOPA to nominate someone else to find out which airports need volunteers..


Florida: It’s hardly news that anti-noise activists can cause big problems for small airports. But rarely are airport opponents as strident or persistent as those near Valkaria Airport (X59) in Valkaria, Florida. Over the years, supporters of the airport have been forced to fight off numerous attempts to restrict its operations or shut it down outright. And for many of those years, ASN volunteer Russ Minton has been in the thick of the fight. An avid pilot and aircraft owner who first took wing under the tutelage of C. Alfred Anderson (the chief flight instructor for the Tuskegee Airmen), Minton has been deeply involved with the airport for years. So when Valkaria’s antagonists went at it again, he was a valuable part of the defense, keeping AOPA up to date on the situation and doing his part to coordinate the local response.

This time, the threat was a proposed city ordinance to prohibit flight training (including recurrent training) at the airport. A surplus Navy training field converted to civilian use after World War II, the airport is partially located within the city limits of Grant-Valkaria, but is actually owned and operated by Brevard County. In a series of meetings last summer, Minton was one of a number of voices speaking out against the proposed training ban. At one hearing he was joined by AOPA Regional Representative Nelson Rhodes, as well as two other Florida ASN volunteers—Paul Rooy and Neil Chancellor—whose presence he had helped arrange. Rooy and Chancellor both testified at the hearing, with Rooy (an attorney well-versed in the issues) explaining that the legal questions raised by the city’s attempted power-grab were, in fact, already well settled.

As it turned out, both the FAA and the Florida State Attorney General agreed: FAA grant obligations require the airport to be available for all aeronautical uses, and Florida law clearly establishes that the city of Grant-Valkaria has no jurisdiction over the field. Flight training can continue unhindered, as can the airport’s contributions to the local economy and pilot population. And, in addition to helping with the defense, Minton’s cooperative efforts show that volunteers don’t always have to operate solo. As AOPA Manager of Airport Policy John Collins says, “You’re not alone out there. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other volunteers in your area if there’s an issue.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Read AOPA’s Guide to Airport Noise and Compatible Land Use and Guide to Obtaining Community Support for Your Local Airport.

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