Feb. 10, 2004 - The FAA will make sure that pilots continue to be allowed to install updated database information in their GPS units. AOPA raised a red flag when a draft advisory circular (AC) appeared to weaken the current policy on pilot installations. The association suggested changes to strengthen the loosely worded AC. The FAA is modifying the AC so it's consistent with existing policy.
"Reducing the cost of flying is one of AOPA's highest priorities," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "We wanted to make sure the FAA didn't ask us to pay a certified mechanic just to remove and replace a common memory card in the GPS."
The new advisory circular is intended to certify the way aeronautical data is handled. AOPA's biggest concern is the bottom-line cost to existing GPS database subscriptions. "AOPA members continue to express dismay at the costs associated with database subscriptions, given that FAA data is available for free," said AOPA Senior Director of Advanced Technology Randy Kenagy.
Over the years, AOPA has lobbied Congress and urged the FAA to provide a free or very low cost navigation database that would meet all IFR and VFR requirements. The FAA responded and has been building a database over the past several years. In December, the FAA unveiled the first public edition of its GPS database. As more content is added, manufacturers could use this data and pass on the cost savings to their customers.