The House and Senate have passed another three-month funding extension for the FAA, which has been operating under temporary extensions since its last long-term authorization expired in 2007. The House passed a three-year reauthorization in May 2009, but the Senate has yet to pass a long-term bill.
Both the long-term bill the House passed in May and the one under consideration in the Senate would continue to fund the FAA through aviation fuel taxes, ticket taxes, and a general fund contribution. AOPA supports this method of funding the FAA and maintains that a long-term funding package offers the best assurance of achieving fast and efficient modernization of the air transportation system.
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.) and aviation subcommittee chairman Jerry F. Costello (D-Ill.) spoke on the House floor before the voice vote December 8 about the necessity of the bill in order for FAA programs to continue uninterrupted. The need to pass a long-term authorization is evident.
“Short-term extensions and uncertain funding levels can be disruptive to the aviation industry and communities because they do not allow them to plan for long-term growth,” Costello said in his prepared remarks. “Frankly, every month that goes by without a long-term FAA authorization is a lost opportunity to improve aviation safety, security, and to create and maintain jobs around the country.”
The short-term extension, the eighth of its kind, extends funding and expenditure authority for the FAA through March 31. The Senate passed the extension on December 10.
AOPA President Craig Fuller has been appointed to the board of directors and policy board of an organization charged with developing recommendations to lead American aviation into the future.
Fuller will continue AOPA’s longstanding involvement in air transportation system modernization by filling the association’s spot on the boards of RTCA, a private, not-for-profit corporation that develops consensus-based recommendations regarding communications, navigation, surveillance, and air traffic management system issues. RTCA developed the standards to expand GPS from military use into GA cockpits and has been involved in planning implementation of the NextGen air transportation system.
“I look forward to continuing AOPA’s involvement with RTCA,” Fuller said. “Working through this organization is one of the many ways our industry can come together to ensure that the needs of all segments of the aviation community are considered as we move into the future.”
While the FAA is proposing 16 changes to FAR Part 61, AOPA is working to ensure that the changes do not negatively affect pilot training or certification and is recommending additional changes that could benefit the GA community.
“The FAA’s proposed changes could impact operations at flight schools, the way pilots train for future certificates and ratings, and proficiency requirements for those members who own or are considering purchasing a single-pilot turbine aircraft,” said Rob Hackman, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. “AOPA will work to ensure any changes to Part 61 will not have a negative impact on the general aviation community.”
Several of the proposed changes pertain to complex aircraft. The FAA is recommending that the definition of a complex aircraft be modified to include aircraft equipped with full authority digital engine control (FADEC) systems. Other proposals call for 10 hours of advanced instrument training to replace the current requirement of 10 hours of complex time for the commercial pilot certificate’s single- and multiengine class ratings.
AOPA supports the change to the definition of a complex aircraft and the removal of the complex time requirement for the commercial certificate. The association has recommended that the requirement for an instructor’s endorsement for complex aircraft be removed altogether from the regulations and that the practical test standards for the commercial and flight instructor certificates no longer require a complex aircraft.
Instead of requiring 10 hours of advanced instrument training for the commercial certificate, AOPA has recommended that the FAA meet with flight training providers to determine what other areas of training would be better suited for the commercial certificate. The association pointed out that the instrument requirement would be extreme for those pursuing commercial privileges for VFR-only operations.
Other changes that AOPA supports include allowing foreign pilot licenses to be converted to U.S. pilot certificates through “Implementation Procedures for Licensing;” permitting airplanes with a throw-over control wheel to be used for flight training; and allowing student pilots to earn their private pilot certificate and instrument rating simultaneously. However, AOPA has made it clear to the FAA that the agency should not require all private pilots to earn the instrument rating concurrently.
AOPA recommended an additional change to eliminate the expiration of flight instructor certificates. Under AOPA’s proposal, the certificate would not expire, but the CFI would need to complete currency or renewal training every 24 months in order to exercise the privileges of the certificate. AOPA proposed changing the timeframe in which CFIs can attend a flight instructor refresher clinic.
“These are just proposed changes; the FAA must now evaluate the comments they have received to this notice of proposed rulemaking and determine if and how they will be addressed in a final rule, and that could take years,” Hackman said, adding “these proposals should not be confused with actual changes to the regulations.”
Lockheed Martin recently implemented another round of flight service station consolidations, citing a staffing and workload analysis, along with continued improvements in flight service system technology and efficiency, as the basis for the consolidation. Because of these continued improvements, the company does not anticipate any impact on service to pilots.
“AOPA has served as a strong customer advocate for pilots since the FAA announced it was contracting out flight service and subsequently awarded the contract to Lockheed Martin in 2005,” said AOPA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Rob Hackman.
In its most recent report to the FAA Flight Service Program Office, Lockheed has demonstrated that it is currently meeting or exceeding the 20 customer service performance metrics that have been established for the contract. Areas covered include average speed of answer for handled calls, percent of calls that exceed two minutes of queue time, percent of dropped calls, percent of radio contacts initiated within 15 seconds, and percent of pilot reports processed within 120 seconds of the end of contact.
Beginning in February, Lockheed will close its locations in Columbia, Missouri; Honolulu, Hawaii; Kankakee, Illinois; Lansing, Michigan; Nashville, Tennessee; Seattle, Washington; and St. Petersburg, Florida. This is the second consolidation effort since the company was awarded a contract in 2005 to provide flight services for the FAA.
Pilots also can report problems with the service by calling 888-358-7782 (888-FLT-SRVC), a complaint hotline that is monitored by the FAA and Lockheed Martin, or to Lockheed Martin directly by filling out a complaint form on the company’s flight services Web site. The Lockheed form requires registration on the site; all complaints are evaluated by Lockheed Martin management with resolution feedback provided to the submitter.
AOPA was granted permission to participate as a friend of the court in an appeal by the city of Santa Monica, California, of an FAA decision that the city could not ban certain jet traffic at Santa Monica Airport. As a friend of the court, AOPA can explain the federal airport grant process, grant assurances, and their impact on the operation of airports, as well as the safety and efficiency concerns being disputed in the appeal. The association’s primary concern in the case is ensuring that a dangerous precedent isn’t set that would allow local governments to ban operations at public airports.
The city of Shelton, Washington, is considering rezoning property one half mile south of Sanderson Airport’s Runway 5/23 from commercial industrial to commercial residential. The city is hearing safety concerns from local pilots, the Port of Shelton, the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division, and the Washington Pilots Association. AOPA also has written to the city expressing its opposition to rezoning the 120 acres, explaining that doing so would “create a future hazard to the Sanderson Airport.”
When the Sabena Airline Training Center moved to Falcon Field in Mesa, Arizona, the airport went from the twelfth busiest general aviation airport in the nation to the fourth. The airport’s success, however, has caused strife with some of its neighbors, who have complained about noise from flight training. The city has been working with stakeholders to find solutions, and AOPA Vice President of Local Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn and Western Regional Representative Stacy Howard engaged with local leaders and elected officials to hear details of voluntary noise abatement procedures and local pilots’ efforts to ease tensions. Mesa created the Falcon Field Task Force, a seven-member citizen group, to come up with voluntary measures to help resolve complaints about aircraft noise and possible safety risks at the airport. AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Otto Shill participated in the task force.
As proposed, the Delta Temporary Military Operations Areas (TMOAs) would shut off the only IFR Victor airway connecting northern Alaska directly with Delta Junction, Canada, and the contiguous United States. The Eleventh Air Force has proposed the TMOAs to conduct Red Flag Alaska training exercises in 2010 and augment established MOAs in the vicinity. AOPA recently wrote to the FAA to recommend modifying the proposal to mitigate the airspace’s impact on general aviation traffic and prevent closure of the airway.
Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport/Shepherd Field in Martinsburg, West Virginia, is updating its airport rules, regulations, and minimum standards for commercial aeronautical activities, but the update is sparking concern among local pilots. During a recent hearing at the airport, AOPA, Airport Support Network volunteer Ron Porterfield, and pilots were able to discuss the proposal, which was made available on the airport’s Web site.
FREE AOPA ASF SAFETY SEMINARS
|February 1||Little Rock, AR|
|February 2||Oklahoma City, OK|
|February 3||Wichita, KS|
|February 8||Ocala, FL|
|February 9||Tampa, FL|
|February 10||Melbourne, FL|
|February 11||Fort Lauderdale, FL|
|February 16||Huntsville, AL|
|February 17||Decatur, GA|
|February 18||Greenville, SC|
|February 23||Northglenn, CO|
|February 24||Colorado Springs, CO|
|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.|
You’re on short final at a nontowered airport when the airplane at the hold-short line suddenly pulls onto the runway. The unicom crackles to life with the pilot’s announcement: “Taking the active”—three pointless words high on your pet peeve list. To top things off, you’re now forced to go around because of this oblivious pilot’s actions. No wonder you’re fuming as you climb back to pattern altitude.
At one time or another, we’ve all been annoyed—even scared—when other pilots don’t play by the rules or simply take a cavalier approach toward safety. To be blunt: Some fellow aviators’ faux pas cause us to cringe, wag a finger at them, and shake our heads in disbelief.
Whatever the reason for your discontent, you won’t want to miss the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s newest free seminar, based on pilots’ feedback about other pilots’ imperfections. They’ve told us about the “helpful” person in the right seat who can’t keep his hands off the controls and the genius whose prop blast creates a hurricane in their hangar every time he taxis by. There are plenty more tales in store at ASF’s 10 Things Other Pilots Do Wrong.
Now is your chance to air your grievances and learn a thing or two about safety. Join ASF for an entertaining and educational look at the things that drive us nuts about “other pilots.” To participate, visit the Web site for confirmed dates and locations in your area.
As you watch snow blanket airplanes, ramps, and runways, you might wonder when you’ll be able to fly next. Cold temperatures, low clouds, and frozen precipitation present unique challenges during the winter season, but don’t let this discourage you. Winter often yields the best chances for a glassy smooth ride and a picturesque landscape to boot. But you’ll want to be well prepared to reap winter’s flying benefits.
Enter the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Winter Weather Safety Spotlight to get a quick yet thorough overview of winter flying dos and don’ts, with everything you need to know from preflight to tiedown gathered in one place. Best of all, you’ll be able to set your own pace and pick the information important to you.
Get up to speed with award-winning courses, take a quiz about wing contamination, and get the facts on icing and cold-weather flying to enjoy the winter season. You’ll understand why IFR winter flying presents its own challenges after you experience the riveting Real Pilot Story of a new instrument-rated pilot who got more than he bargained for when confronted with a winter storm over Pennsylvania mountains.
Don’t wait for the snowflakes to come down: Get prepared online ahead of time.
A preliminary tabulation of aircraft icing accidents in the ASF accident database has some chilling numbers proving those accidents too often end up in the fatal column. Initial reports suggest that between 1999 and 2008, there were 99 aircraft icing accidents, which accounted for 96 deaths and 26 serious injuries. Check out ASF’s free online course: Weather Wise: Precipitation and Icing. Watch for the release of the 2009 Nall Report to take a close look at accident statistics for 2008.
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.
New Hampshire: As many pilots know from personal experience, relations between airports and nearby residential neighborhoods can sometimes be tense, to say the least. And while there are certainly ways in which airports and the people who live near them can learn to coexist in reasonable harmony, it doesn’t change the fact that houses and apartment complexes are hardly ideal airport neighbors.
So it was with trepidation that Nashua, New Hampshire, pilots greeted news last summer of plans for a new residential development near Boire Field, the city’s municipal airport. Although the proposal—which would have placed more than 50 apartments directly on the extended centerline of Runway 32—received a determination of no hazard under the FAA’s obstruction evaluation process, it was clearly an incompatible land use and a potential threat to the field. “The long-term well-being of the airport was at issue here,” says AOPA Manager of Airport Policy John Collins.
The proposal was scheduled to come before the local zoning board in late October, which gave airport users significant time to rally support. A number of local pilots and on-airport business owners, among them ASN volunteer Graham Smith, had been actively following the issue since it arose, and they kept AOPA apprised of the situation as it developed. At the appropriate point, the association drafted a letter to the zoning board explaining the problems with the proposed location and asking it to decline the developer’s request.
On October 27, with more than 70 airport supporters in attendance, the zoning board heard testimony from airport manager Roy Rankin and several others before ultimately voting to reject the development proposal. “I’m really happy with the contributions everyone made,” says Collins. “They seized the opportunity to prevent future noise complaints and other potential issues.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Pay attention to local planning and zoning boards: The sooner you’re aware of a land issue, the sooner you can act. Also read AOPA’s Guide to Airport Noise and Compatible Land Use and Guide for Airport Advocates: Participating in the Planning Process.
Florida: When a general aviation field finds itself in the crosshairs of anti-airport forces it’s important for pilots to take action, and sometimes that means fighting fire with fire. In the long run, though, the best defense is usually a good offense—and to launch a successful offensive, you have to abandon the tactics of the trenches.
That’s how Naples, Florida, ASN volunteer Scott Cameron sees things, anyway. A longtime pilot and business user of a Piper Seneca, in the late 1990s Cameron became deeply involved in efforts to defend the airport against an anti-noise group called Citizens Against Noise, or CAN. During that battle he helped found the Friends of the Naples Municipal Airport, and has served as the group’s president for most of the time since. But even though they eventually won the fight (CAN, as it turned out, couldn’t), Cameron and the other members weren’t ready to close up shop. Rather than be defined solely in opposition to the anti-noise activists, they set about spreading a positive message about the airport’s substantial contributions to the community.
As Cameron puts it, however, “There’s a limit to how many service club speeches you can give.” So the group hatched a plan: Using funds raised for the defense of the airport, they would work with a local video production studio (as well as one of the country’s best-known voiceover artists, a friend of one of their members) to produce a DVD showing all the things the airport does for the Naples area, and how little it costs the citizens. The video, which features quality production values and takes an in-depth look at the field and its history, has been running on local public-access television, and the group is actively seeking other venues for it.
“The typical pro-airport argument is ‘We were here first,’” Cameron says. “That’s true, and it’s powerful logic to pilots, but to the rest of the community it’s not as convincing. We wanted to get past that and just sell the airport on its merits.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Look for new and creative ways to let the public know about your airport’s contributions to the community. Also read AOPA’s Guide to Obtaining Community Support for Your Local Airport.
Are you thinking about purchasing an aircraft? Perhaps you’ve already found the perfect airplane and are ready to take that next step, and if you’ve done your research, you know that next step should be a title search. What you may not know is just how easy it is to initiate one.
AOPA Title Services, provided by AIC Title, allows you to order your title search online. The process is simple and secure. Plus, when you visit the Web site, you’ll also find valuable information regarding not only title services but escrow services and document submission services. There is even an area that provides information regarding international registry.
When it comes to purchasing an aircraft, protecting your ownership rights is essential. AOPA Title Services offers more than 250 years of combined experience, plus a staff that is among the world’s most knowledgeable in handling both domestic and international transactions.
Visit the Web site to learn more about how AOPA Title Services can ensure a smooth takeoff for your aircraft purchase. A portion of all revenue generated from this service will be returned to AOPA and reinvested to fund ongoing efforts to maintain the freedom, safety, and affordability of general aviation.
Finding quality, affordable insurance to meet your personal needs can be challenging. That’s why AOPA has done the legwork for you and shopped the insurance market, negotiated group rates, and developed this comprehensive offering of products to meet your needs. Unlike most other insurance plans, the products have no aviation exclusions, which make them a great option for pilots.
What if something happened to you? Would there be enough life insurance and other assets to replace your income and everything you do to provide for your family? Right now, AOPA members and their spouses under age 65 can apply for $5,000 up to $1 million in affordable life insurance through the AOPA Group Term Life Insurance Plan.
This coverage was designed for AOPA members with busier, more active lifestyles who need more long-term financial security.
Now, you and your spouse can lock in an affordable rate and a benefit from $200,000 up to $1 million for 10 or 20 years. Every year, you can trust that your rate won’t increase—which simplifies planning and budgeting from year to year.
This plan provides an easy and affordable way to add to the life benefits your loved ones may need later in life if something happens to you. AOPA members who are age 50 to under age 75 (and spouses age 45 to 75) can obtain $10,000 up $50,000 in economical life insurance without submitting to a medical exam.
Are you looking for life insurance coverage more than $1 million? Contact AOPA at 877-432-AOPA for more information.
To learn about plan details, rate guarantees, and how to apply, visit the Web site or call 877-432-AOPA to request materials.