by Sarah Brown
An FAA reauthorization bill introduced in the Senate in July would set the course for modernization of the national airspace system and fund the FAA for the next two years without the introduction of user fees.
The two-year authorization would focus on the acceleration of NextGen air traffic control modernization, including establishing deadlines for the adoption of GPS technology such as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B).
“AOPA supports modernization and believes that there are near-term actions available to the FAA that will improve access to airports throughout the country by more fully utilizing the satellite-based technology available now,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “While this legislation clearly moves us closer to achieving much-needed modernization, AOPA believes that a longer-term funding package based firmly on existing, proven funding mechanisms offers the best assurance of achieving modernization swiftly and efficiently.”
In recent years, the FAA has been operating under a series of temporary funding extensions. The House passed a three-year FAA reauthorization in May.
Like the House bill, the Senate legislation contains major provisions designed to expedite the transition to satellite-based navigation and surveillance and to minimize airspace congestion.
“This bill goes a long way toward improving safety, reducing congestion, and modernizing our aviation system so we adapt to future growth in air travel,” said Sen. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Rockefeller introduced the legislation with Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), ranking member of the committee; Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), chairman of the aviation subcommittee; and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), ranking member of the aviation subcommittee.
“The benefits of Next Generation air traffic control include increased efficiency and expanded capacity, along with critical safety enhancements that are long overdue,” Hutchison added.
The Senate bill also lays out a timeline for ADS-B equipage. Within 45 days of the enactment of the bill, the FAA would have to identify the type of avionics required for ADS-B In and Out for aircraft for all classes of airspace, their expected costs, and their expected uses and benefits. It would direct the FAA to require the use of ADS-B Out on all aircraft by 2015 and ADS-B In on all aircraft by 2018, provided the FAA has the ground infrastructure in place and the system works. The mandate for ADS-B Out would be five years earlier than currently expected.
Following a suggestion by AOPA, the legislation would condition the equipage dates on a determination made by the Air Traffic Modernization Board—which would be created by the bill and would include a representative from general aviation—as to whether the infrastructure, procedures, and equipment are in place to support ADS-B equipage. AOPA played a major role in the transition from ground- to space-based navigation and significantly contributed to the effort that proved ADS-B can be beneficial if implemented in a way that allows general aviation to experience affordable benefits.
The Senate reauthorization would establish a pilot program to ease the financial burden of ADS-B equipage for some aircraft; it directs the Department of Transportation to identify incentives and proposes a $125 million program to help finance ADS-B equipage in up to five states between 2010 and 2015. In the program, the Secretary of Transportation enters into cooperative agreements with states to establish banks for making loans and providing other assistance to public entities for ADS-B and related avionics equipage.
AOPA has encouraged the FAA to find methods of rewarding aircraft equipage. Without further incentives, GA pilots could be required to spend significant amounts of money on the technology; and the FAA has not yet identified tangible benefits for GA.
Before the bill goes to the Senate floor, the Finance Committee will decide whether to extend fuel taxes at their current level or approve the modest increase in the legislation adopted by the House. The House bill would raise taxes from 19.3 cents per gallon to 24.1 cents per gallon for avgas and from 21.8 cents per gallon to 35.9 cents per gallon for noncommercial jet fuel. The increase in fuel taxes would go toward the modernization of the air traffic control system. If the reauthorization passes in the Senate, the House and Senate measures will go to a conference committee to reconcile the differences. A conference will not likely be held until September at the earliest.
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The security threat posed by general aviation is “limited and mostly hypothetical,” a report released by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General concludes.
The report, which addresses the Transportation Security Administration’s role in GA security, finds no significant vulnerabilities in GA operations in the United States. The TSA and the GA community have taken effective steps to address security concerns, it notes.
“We determined that general aviation presents only limited and mostly hypothetical threats to security. We also determined that the steps general aviation airport owners and managers have taken to enhance security are positive and effective,” reads the report. This validates what AOPA, the GA industry, and the TSA have always contended,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller.
The report outlines the steps that the TSA and GA stakeholders have taken to strengthen GA security, including measures such as AOPA’s Airport Watch Program, which is coordinated with the TSA to educate pilots and airport employees about ways to enhance the security of their airports and aircraft.
As proponents of climate change legislation make cutting America’s production of greenhouse gases a high priority this year, engine emissions—including those of general aviation aircraft—have come under scrutiny. But the House of Representatives removed a provision from its climate change bill that would have granted new authority to regulate aircraft engine emissions.
The House narrowly passed the bill and the Senate has begun hearings that could lead to its own bill in the fall. AOPA submitted comments to the EPA in the past regarding a ruling that could lead to regulating greenhouse gas emissions from many sources, including aircraft, under the Clean Air Act, and told the agency, again, that piston GA aircraft are not significant contributors to carbon dioxide emissions.
Emissions criteria currently exist for turbine aircraft but not piston-powered aircraft, which account for only one-tenth of 1 percent of transportation greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation that was passed does not introduce any new authority for setting emissions standards that would apply to piston-powered GA aircraft, although it would give the EPA administrator authority to establish provisions for averaging, banking, and trading of greenhouse gas emissions credits.
AOPA has been involved in establishing guiding principles for addressing aviation’s role in climate change, maintaining that any regulatory action must consider both costs and benefits and that new regulations must be based on sound science. The association cooperated with 19 other aviation organizations to produce a joint industry paper early this year outlining guidelines for addressing environmental issues in aviation.
The president’s budget for 2010 proposed cutting funding for loran, but the appropriations committee report for the House bill rejects the termination of Loran-C and directs the Coast Guard to provide a plan for upgrading the system to enhanced loran, known as eLoran. The Senate version provides for the termination of loran, effective January 4, 2010, if the commandant of the Coast Guard certifies that it is not needed as a backup to GPS and its termination will not adversely affect navigation safety.
Few pilots utilize loran today; however, there are currently a limited number of potential backups for GPS. If loran is decommissioned, a GPS outage could leave pilots without a backup for navigation. AOPA has cautioned against decommissioning loran before a reliable backup for GPS is in place, and an independent assessment team (IAT) report released this year by the Institute for Defense Analyses recommends that the government complete its upgrade to eLoran so that it can fill that role.
“More and more pilots are using GPS for navigation, and satellite failures could leave them without a backup,” said Craig Spence, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. “A ground-based navigation system is important, and an upgraded eLoran system could provide that capability.”
Since the TSA issued its notice of proposed rulemaking on the program in October, lawmakers have been objecting to the measure in letters, hearings, and proposed legislation. Now Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) has introduced the proposed General Aviation Security Enhancement Act of 2009, which AOPA supports, that would require the agency to engage in negotiated rulemaking in order to find a solution for the LASP that does not impose costly security regulations on GA without justification. The bill has eight co-sponsors: Reps. Pete Olson (R-Texas), Vernon J. Ehlers (R-Mich.), Dennis Moore (D-Kan.), Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), Candice S. Miller (R-Mich.), Thomas E. Petri (R-Wis.), John L. Mica (R-Fla.), and John Campbell (R-Calif.).
In its original notice of proposed rulemaking, “The TSA abandoned its traditional risk-based approach at addressing security concerns and instead attempted to adopt large, commercial-aviation standards to these small, independently owned and chartered aircraft,” Dent said in a letter to his colleagues. “Although the title refers to ‘large’ aircraft, the rule proposes to regulate general aviation aircraft that are smaller than a U-Haul truck. This legislation would simply require that, should TSA move forward with a rulemaking addressing general aviation, the TSA use a negotiated rulemaking process.”
Under the new plan, a business will need to have annual chart sales of $5,000, not the current $500, to remain a chart agent and purchase charts directly from the FAA. However, smaller outlets may now purchase charts from larger agents and resell them to pilots. Pilots should see little difference in prices.
Businesses that are interested in selling charts and anticipate meeting the minimum sales requirement can contact NACO by phone (800-638-8972) or e-mail. Businesses that do not anticipate meeting the minimum but would like to sell charts will be able to obtain a list of agents they can work with from NACO this fall. More information on the new chart agent model is available on NACO’s Web site (www.naco.faa.gov).
“This is great news for AOPA members planning to attend our first-ever Aviation Summit in Tampa this November,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller.
Robert Babin, legislative services director of the Florida Department of Revenue, specifically cited the use-tax exemption for Aviation Summit, “An out-of-state aircraft owner will not incur use tax on his or her aircraft merely for flying in to attend AOPA’s Aviation Summit. Rather our use tax enforcement efforts are directed at property and property owners with significant connections to Florida.”
Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a bill that reorganizes the commonwealth’s transportation commissions under one consolidated agency, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. The legislation is intended to streamline the commonwealth’s transportation system, which has been operating under the jurisdictions of several independent commissions.
In the division of aeronautics, the administrator will oversee the commonwealth’s 42 general aviation airports; the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) will continue to handle commercial airports. The changes are set to take effect November 1.
Assemblyman Robin Schimminger introduced the bill to retain the benefits of aircraft-related businesses, and AOPA has been working with the New York Aviation Management Association and key lawmakers to convey the importance of the legislation. “Airports are one of the economic engines that fuel growth in the communities that they serve,” the bill memo reads. The bill notes that more than 300,000 New York residents owe their jobs directly or indirectly to airports. “In addition to commercial service airports, hundreds of other GA airports are located throughout the state. These airports provide services such as charter flights for businesses and executives, quick access for medical emergencies and law enforcement needs, flight training, and tourism [and] recreational flying.”
Some of the state’s attempts to collect reach back many years, even in situations where aircraft owners have been paying property taxes in good-faith efforts to pay what they believed they owed.
“On behalf of Missouri’s aircraft owners, we suggest that the Department of Revenue should set some reasonable limitation on its efforts to reach back in time to collect a use tax on these aircraft,” AOPA Vice President Greg Pecoraro wrote in a letter on behalf of the owners of the 6,200 aircraft registered in Missouri.
“We would suggest that it is better for Missouri to keep these aircraft in state as taxable property, paying (property taxes) rather than adding another pressure for these owners to sell. With the right tax and business climate, general aviation and nonresident pilots can play an ever-increasing role in Missouri’s economic prosperity.”
AOPA will continue to support the efforts of the Missouri Pilots Association to persuade the state to modify its collections policy.
Registration is open for the AOPA Aviation Summit and it’s time to start planning your trip to Tampa. AOPA offers a variety of programs that have been designed to help you plan an exciting, budget-friendly experience for the entire family. Just follow our four steps to Summit savings:
Step one is picking your package. Visit us online and choose the package that best meets your needs (www.aopa.org/summit/schedule). You’ll find that with our reduced package rates and preregistration discounts, creating a package that suits your budget is easier than ever before.
Step two is choosing your hotel. All AOPA official hotels offer incredible rates and are price-guaranteed if you book through the services of our official AOPA housing organization, The Housing Connection (www.aopa.org/summit/housing).
If you are not flying GA, step three is booking your flight. With AOPA’s Online Travel program you’ll receive great rates on your airfare. Plus a portion of the revenue generated will be returned to AOPA. Need a rental car? Save on your car rental from Alamo, Avis, Hertz, and Enterprise with exclusive Summit discounts.
Step four is all about the fun and Tampa has lots to offer— check out our online video. You will find a pilot’s playground, plus enjoy Tampa Bay where naturally there’s lots of water and sunshine. But you’ll also discover an area that’s full of rich arts, professional sports, sights to see, and things to do you won’t find anywhere else. Whatever your pleasure, you’ll find it in Tampa Bay! (See “Shaping Aviation’s Future.”)
Start your adventure today. Register now for AOPA Aviation Summit November 5 through 7 in Tampa, Florida.
AOPA is partnering with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which provides service to more FBOs and airports that serve general aviation than any other rental car company in the industry. Enterprise and its slogan of “From Your Wings To Our Wheels®” are well known to GA pilots, making the partnership a natural fit.
AOPA members receive a 5-percent discount off Enterprise’s low rates, courteous and personalized customer service, as well as free enrollment in Enterprise Plus, a program that offers faster reservations and rentals.
A portion of all the revenue generated will be returned to AOPA and reinvested to support our daily advocacy efforts.
Visit Enterprise’s Web site designed for AOPA members to reserve your car today or call 866-315-9155 and mention discount code AOPAP9.
ASF, taking a cue from the pros, set to work to bring high-level investigation techniques and some clever deduction to the down-to-earth task of analyzing evidence in this latest seminar cleverly dubbed “What Went Wrong?”
You will look at GA accidents through the eyes of the investigator—starting at the scene and working backward to reconnect the shattered links of the accident chain.
Visit the Web site (www.asf.org/seminars) for confirmed dates and locations, and participate in a “What Went Wrong?” accident scene investigation seminar near you.
If you react “Oh, please, a quiz?” you probably grew up with the dreaded #2 pencil, forced to very carefully mark the circles next to your selected answers. Well, fear no longer: ASF has snapped the pencil and shredded the paper that gave you nightmares, providing interactive online quizzes with discreet scores and the ability to take the quiz again. In fact, the ASF quizzes are all about keeping you sharp and eager to test your knowledge of what’s dear and close, your aviation experience.
ASF’s quizmaster has delivered several top-of-the-line ASF quizzes using Microsoft Flight Simulator to bring the world of flight right to your desktop while you’re taking an ASF Safety Quiz. Join the ASF quizmaster online to test your mettle.
Imagine being forced to take over the flight controls of a Beechcraft King Air 200 if you’d never flown anything larger than a Cessna 172. It happened to Doug White on April 12, when he and his family were returning home from his brother’s funeral.
White was a right-seat passenger in the King Air’s cockpit, with his wife and two teenage daughters in the passenger cabin, when the pilot, Joe Cabuk, became incapacitated. White didn’t have much time to figure out how to stop the airplane from climbing through 11,000 feet and how to deal with the debilitated pilot. And without a King Air School course, how was he supposed to initiate a descent and land this powerful twin-engine airplane?
Listen to White describe his incredible ordeal in this latest Real Pilot Story.
ASF Safety Seminars
|Sept. 1||Nashville, TN|
|Sept. 3||Maryville, TN|
|Sept. 14||Morristown, NJ|
|Sept. 14||Wichita, KS|
|Sept. 15||East Hartford, CT|
|Sept. 15||Oklahoma City, OK|
|Sept. 16||Austin, TX|
|Sept. 16||Newton, MA|
|Sept. 16||Rogers, AR|
|Sept. 17||Little Rock, AR|
|Sept. 17||Manchester, NH|
|Sept. 21||Fort Worth, TX|
|Sept. 21||Reno, NV|
|Sept. 21||Rochester, MN|
|Sept. 22||Cedar Rapids, IA|
|Sept. 22||Sacramento, CA|
|Sept. 22||West Houston, TX|
|Sept. 23||Bellevue, NE|
|Sept. 23||Milpitas, CA|
|Sept. 23||San Antonio, TX|
|Sept. 24||Olathe, KS|
|Sept. 24||Santa Rosa, CA|
|Sept. 28||Blue Bell, PA|
|Sept. 28||Clayton, MO|
|Sept. 28||Mesa, AZ|
|Sept. 29||Allentown, PA|
|Sept. 29||Boise, ID|
|Sept. 29||Kansas City, MO|
|Sept. 29||Tucson, AZ|
|Tentative schedule; visit the Web site for confirmed information.|
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.
Wisconsin: From an outsider’s perspective, the job of an ASN volunteer might seem to be defined by isolated events. A controversial issue arises, opposing forces mobilize, a solution is reached—and then everybody goes home until the next problem rears its head.
ASN volunteer Steve Betzler takes a somewhat longer view of things. A longtime pilot and aircraft owner based at the Waukesha, Wisconsin, airport, Betzler has focused on working behind the scenes to build positive relationships between airport officials and local opinion leaders. Over the years he’s reached out to a number of civic groups with presentations highlighting the rich history and economic importance of general aviation in the area.
Looking for further opportunities to bolster the airport’s standing with local officials, Betzler turned his attention to the annual “Wings over Waukesha” event—a three-day aviation expo that typically draws several thousand people. His idea? Invite elected officials to come out for a VIP open house during the event. The airport’s management listened to his suggestion and liked what they heard. They invited the mayors of several surrounding towns, along with county commissioners and other local executives, to come out for private tours of the air traffic control tower and a visiting B–17 bomber. The effort paid off—the VIPs had a great time (they spent nearly two hours chatting with a veteran B–17 crewman), and the airport officials had an excellent opportunity to talk about the merits of the field.
It was the kind of low-key, ongoing relationship building that can have real long-term benefits. “The more you can bring people around the community and airport together, the better,” Betzler says. “It leads to more open dialogue—you can really see it happening—and that makes it easier to deal with any problems that come up down the road.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Hosting an aviation expo can be a great way to improve your airport’s image—both with the public and local decision-makers.
To learn more, read AOPA’s Complete Guide to Holding an Airport Open House.
Washington: These days, successful airport advocacy efforts are usually defined in the negative. A threatened runway wasn’t torn up. An encroached airport wasn’t forced to close. So when a new runway opens at a general aviation airport, it’s an event worth celebrating—which is exactly what supporters of one small field in Washington state recently did.
On May 29, several dozen pilots and aviation enthusiasts, among them longtime ASN volunteer Craig Johnson, gathered for a special ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of a brand-new runway at the Cle Elem Airport (S93). The culmination of several years of planning and effort, the new runway both dramatically upgrades the quality of the airport facilities and carries an important indirect benefit. Because the runway was built mostly with federal funds, the airport is now subject to grant obligations—meaning that the city of Cle Elem is obliged to keep it open to all users for the next 20 years.
But there was no guarantee that the airport would make it this far. In his 11 years as ASN volunteer, Johnson has worked tirelessly to promote and defend the airport, often in cooperation with other pro-aviation groups. Most recently, he spearheaded efforts to defeat a proposed rezoning that would have opened the door to extensive real estate development within 1,000 feet of the runway centerline. Had it gone forward, the re-zoning could have jeopardized state and federal plans to invest in the new runway.
Asked what advice he would give to other volunteers, Johnson focuses on two key points: “First, it’s important to be ever vigilant. That makes it a lot quicker and easier to organize when there’s a problem. Second, the more you can bring people together and build synergy between different groups that have an interest in the airport, the better.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO: If there’s positive news at your airport, spread the word—plan an event and/or involve local media. Also, read AOPA’s Guide to FAA Airport Compliance.