The FAA is crediting AOPA with helping to keep pilots out of trouble and out of restricted airspace across the nation. Meanwhile, AOPA is urging the FAA to "stay the course" on general aviation safety programs and not overreact to "blips" in the safety record.
At last Friday's General Aviation Coalition meeting with FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and other top FAA officials, Russ Chew, head of the FAA's new Air Traffic Organization, said the reduction in the number of temporary flight restriction (TFR) violations is due in part to AOPA education efforts and outstanding graphics. (AOPA sends special e-mail Airspace Alerts to pilots in areas affected by Presidential TFRs, and AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner graphically depicts the locations of all TFRs and makes it easy to plan flights to avoid them.) A representative from the FAA's legal counsel also acknowledged AOPA's key role in educating the aviation community about TFRs.
At that same meeting, AOPA President Phil Boyer made a presentation on general aviation safety. Boyer noted that the industry has been working successfully to reduce the number of fatal general aviation accidents. He cited the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's innovative online safety programs as examples of proactive safety efforts. Boyer did a live demonstration for the FAA administrator and her management team of an upcoming interactive runway safety course that sets new standards for online audio and video treatment of a safety topic.
"Our goal should be to look at the long-term trend and not overreact to short-term anomalies," said Boyer. "When we look at the trend line from 1990 to the present, we see a significant drop in the number of fatal accidents."
And the year-to-date numbers look good as well, with 9% fewer personal general aviation fatal accidents this year compared to last year, 75% fewer business aviation fatal accidents, and 54% fewer instructional fatal accidents.
"The metrics are important, but much more important is re-energizing the problem-solving partnership between the FAA and industry to continue to move forward in attacking systemic accident causes," Boyer said.
The General Aviation Coalition is comprised of 17 aviation organizations that represent the majority users of the National Airspace System. Members include the Aircraft Electronics Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, International Council of Airshows, National Aeronautic Association, National Agricultural Aviation Association, National Aircraft Resale Association, National Air Transportation Association, National Association of State Aviation Officials, National Business Aviation Association, Professional Aviation Maintenance Association, Small Aircraft Manufacturers Association, Soaring Society of America, United States Parachute Association, and University Aviation Association.
June 22, 2004