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AOPA Action

What AOPA is doing to keep you flying

Florida governor signs long-awaited use-tax exemption into law Florida is once again officially open for business for the many out-of-state aircraft owners seeking to visit the state for fly-ins such as Sun ’n Fun, for aircraft repairs, flight training, or just for pleasure. Gov.

Florida governor signs long-awaited use-tax exemption into law

Florida openFlorida is once again officially open for business for the many out-of-state aircraft owners seeking to visit the state for fly-ins such as Sun ’n Fun, for aircraft repairs, flight training, or just for pleasure. 

Gov. Charlie Crist signed House Bill 173 into law May 27, creating a permanent exemption for visiting out-of-state aircraft from Florida’s 6-percent use tax on the total value of aircraft. Under the previous tax system, out-of-state aircraft owners could be subjected to the tax just for visiting the state within six months of purchasing an aircraft, even though they have already paid the sales tax for their own state. The exemption goes into effect July 1.

“I am confident this legislation maintains Florida’s stellar reputation as a business and tourist-friendly state,” Crist said. “It is always a priority to keep taxes low and promote travel and trade in the Sunshine State. I am grateful for the hard work of aircraft owners, Rep. [Ralph] Poppell and Sen. [Mike] Fasano for ensuring this bill reached my desk.”

The possibility of incurring up to a 6-percent use tax for visiting the state in a recently purchased aircraft has deterred pilots from all over the nation from visiting Florida over the past few years, even beyond the first six months of ownership. AOPA first encountered this issue in 2006 and has worked with the Florida Aviation Trades Association (FATA), the Florida Airports Council (FAC), and key legislators to correct this unprecedented tax practice.

AOPA Director of State Government Affairs Mark Kimberling and AOPA Florida Regional Representative Nelson Rhodes spent several weeks in the halls of the legislature in Tallahassee this legislative session, along with FATA representative Eric Prutsman, working with legislators to resolve this issue once and for all.

“This is a great day for general aviation in Florida and beyond. With the passage of this bill, pilots from all over the United States and the world can continue to bring their aircraft and enjoy all that Florida has to offer,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “We at AOPA will continue to work with leaders here in Florida and across the country to ensure that the value of general aviation is recognized and preserved.”

The bill passed the legislature in April and Crist’s signature marks the final step in the process of making the exemption permanent. Effective July 1, out-of-state aircraft owners will be able to visit Florida with new aircraft for up to 21 days for any purpose, or for an unlimited amount of time within this six-month period for the exclusive purpose of flight training, repairs, retrofitting, or modification. Allowing more aircraft to visit the state will facilitate growth in the aviation industry and improve aviation services at many local airports.

Find out more about the Florida use-tax issue on AOPA Live.


Juneau ADS-B sets stage for final rule

The FAA has completed the final steps needed to move forward with requiring Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out in cockpits by 2020. The agency recently declared initial operating capability for the use of ADS-B at Anchorage Center for air traffic separation services in Juneau, Alaska, shortly after it achieved the same capability in Philadelphia. Juneau was the last key piece of ground infrastructure the FAA had to complete before issuing its final rule mandating ADS-B Out in all airspace where a transponder is required today.

ADS-B has the capability to expand surveillance services to areas not currently covered by radar. Philadelphia and Anchorage were the last of four pioneer sites for the rollout of ADS-B technology as part of the transition to satellite-based surveillance and navigation in the NextGen air transportation system. AOPA has worked to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is put in place for GA pilots to benefit from new technologies.

Before Philadelphia and Juneau, the FAA rolled out ADS-B in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Gulf of Mexico. Philadelphia was chosen as one of four demonstration sites because of the presence of UPS, which has some 100 aircraft equipped with the avionics needed to take advantage of ADS-B. US Airways, the dominant airline at Philadelphia International Airport, also is equipping some of its airplanes, according to the FAA. Philadelphia is considered a key test of the system because of its busy East Coast location. AOPA Pilot will provide an in-depth look at ADS-B in its August issue.

FAA decision a ray of light for airparks

A recent FAA decision to allow residential through-the-fence access to continue at Independence State Airport in Independence, Oregon, indicates the agency may be adopting a more flexible stance toward residential access to federally funded airports.

Through-the-fence access allows homes and businesses on adjacent private property to access airport taxiways or runways. The FAA had discouraged such use but conditionally approved some residential through-the-fence access at federally funded airports, setting a very high standard for what constituted an acceptable agreement; however, the agency signaled a change in approach more than a year ago when FAA officials in the Northwest Mountain Region began seeking to immediately terminate existing access at several airports. AOPA has been consistently working on influencing the FAA to take a more reasonable and balanced approach rather than an outright ban.

“Long-term, consistent, patient advocacy on this issue is paying off,” said AOPA Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy Greg Pecoraro. “This issue is not a sprint, but a marathon, and will take time.”


Did you know?

In 2010, 46 states will hold legislative elections. Nationwide, 1,155 Senate seats and 4,598 House seats will be up for grabs.

1) Oklahoma: Pilots rally, Oklahoma passes bill to protect aircraft from obstructions

SB 1960, also known as “The Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act,” passed the legislature on the evening of May 27 and is on its way to Gov. Brad Henry who has 30 days to sign the legislation.  The act would provide greater protection of public-use airports from height obstructions and incompatible land-use by authorizing the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission to regulate certain construction in designated approach areas around public-use airports.

“In the final analysis, passage of the Aircraft Pilot & Passenger Protection Act is about protecting life—of the flying public and those that live or work around an airport,” said Oklahoma Aeronautics Director Vic Bird. “AOPA was an essential partner throughout the very challenging legislative process to get this passed. And, in the final hours when passage was still not certain, the AOPA army rallied and we got it done.”

Highest GA per-capita economic contribution by state:

  1. Kansas
  2. Georgia
  3. Connecticut

2) California: California pilots stress safety after fatal accident

Palo Alto, California, area pilots turned out in force May 20 to prove their commitment to air safety in the ongoing wake of a fatal Cessna 310 accident February 17. About 200 pilots attended the AOPA Air Safety Foundation safety seminar, “Safe Skies, Good Neighbors,” presented by aviation author and 2008 CFI of the year Max Trescott. The large turnout for the safety seminar demonstrated local pilots’ dedication to safety and respect for the surrounding communities.

AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Bob Lenox, who reached out to AOPA immediately after the accident, worked with the foundation and Palo Alto Airport Association board member Mark Deem to tailor the safety seminar specifically to the flying conditions and procedures at the airport.

3) Vermont: Recognition in Vermont to aid fight for GA

Vermont Rep. Janice Peaslee earned her private pilot certificate in November (See “ Politicians & Planes”) and has shared her love of flying with many colleagues in the state legislature. This month, she spearheaded an effort to pass a resolution recognizing the contributions of GA and urging federal lawmakers to do the same—a move she hopes will increase understanding of GA and help protect airports.

4) Kansas: Despite budget deficit, Kansas GA airports get boost

In today’s economic climate, it might seem impossible to close a $510 million budget deficit while protecting current aviation funding, preserving the sales tax exemption on aircraft, and providing additional future support for the state’s airports. But that’s just what Kansas lawmakers did May 11 with the passage of the final budget package. “During a difficult financial time, state policymakers made tough decisions to protect general aviation—an absolutely critical industry in Kansas,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy.

5) Tennessee: New liability law to open more grass strips to public?


The length (in feet) of the longest runway in the world, located at Qamdo Bangda Airport in Tibet. It is also the world’s highest airport in elevation.

Private airfields in Tennessee will get the protection they need to open to the public, a move that AOPA hopes many other states will follow. A bill to provide liability protection to private airfield owners was signed by Gov. Phil Bredesen on May 26.

T-Top Airfield owner and AOPA member Ken Franks spearheaded the renewed effort for liability protection and mobilized more than 200 other private airfield owners and enthusiasts in the state. State Rep. Ty Cobb and State Sen. Doug Jackson sponsored the measure in their respective houses and played an instrumental role in getting the protection passed.

The protection could limit the personal liability of more than 125 private airfield owners, allowing them to open their fields for recreational use.

AOPA Southeast Regional Representative Bob Minter recently met with a group of private airfield owners and said that many are not only looking forward to opening their strips to the public but also sparking an interest in aviation among today’s youth.

“The fun of flying is no better than at a small grass strip,” said Minter. “I think a lot of these airfield owners would love to let their fields be used as a catalyst to interest young children in flying.”

6) North Carolina: What airport?

Ever talked about your local general aviation airport to someone in the community and heard the reaction, “What airport? I didn’t know we have an airport”? Unfortunately that’s the perception in many communities with small general aviation airports. But pilots can help get the word out.

During the North Carolina Airports Association annual meeting in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, April 22, AOPA Vice President of Local Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn participated in a panel, “Does your community know that they have an airport?” Dunn explained the importance of pilots reaching out to the community and provided real-world examples of airports that have been saved because the local citizens learned the value of the airport.

“The first step in protecting your airport is to make sure the community knows it’s there!” explained Dunn. “An airport that isn’t known by its community can be in as much danger as one that generates noise complaints.”

Celebrate our freedom to fly: Thank your ASN volunteer

For pilots, vacations bring to mind cross-country trips to explore new airports or return to old favorites. AOPA members know it is important for both local and transient pilots to protect airports we love to visit. As we celebrate Independence Day, we also celebrate our freedom to fly, which depends on our system of community airports

Whatever the season, ASN volunteers are at work helping AOPA protect airports. As you travel this summer, be sure to thank the ASNV at the airports you visit. And when you return home, consider becoming a volunteer yourself! Whether attending a city council meeting, meeting with the airport manager to address pilot’s concerns, organizing a local pilot support group, or just keeping AOPA informed, ASNVs contribute time and energy to keeping your airport healthy. What can all pilots do to help ensure the vitality of airports? Here are a few ideas:

  • Take time to learn about local elections and candidates who have an impact on your airport.
  • Volunteer to be an ASNV if your airport doesn’t have one!
  • Get engaged in aviation!

For more information on how you can help support your airport, visit AOPA Online.


Why you cant afford to miss this year's AOPA Aviation Summit

SummitEach year AOPA strives to make its annual convention, AOPA Aviation Summit, the must-attend event of the year for pilots and aviation enthusiasts. This year is no different. We’ve reached out to some of the biggest names in aviation, including Patty Wagstaff, Sean Tucker, Dale Snodgrass, Mike Melvill, Dick Rutan, Corky Fornoff, Rod Machado, and Skip Holm, who will all be on hand to host dinners, speak at forums, and much more. Our educational forums have been expanded and we are offering more forums than ever before. We’ve added exciting new activities to Airportfest, AOPA’s one-of-a-kind aircraft display, and we invite you to come see the Red Bull Street Team, join us for a pancake breakfast, and take in all the fun, new displays. If you register now you can save up to 25 percent. We look forward to seeing you November 11 to 13 in Long Beach, California. Register today and be sure to check out last year’s AOPA Live highlights.

AOPA comes to the rescue for member

After AOPA member George Jordan received radiation treatments for prostate cancer, the AOPA Medical Services Program helped him to keep flying as long as he provided the FAA with a status report every year, along with his regular flight physical and documentation from his oncologist, aviation medical examiner, and family doctor.

Throughout his radiation treatment and periodic follow-up reviews, Jordan retained his FAA medical. His medical was never officially lost, but the FAA didn’t renew it, and so he was effectively grounded. Jordan went back and forth with the FAA, but he didn’t blame the agency.

“I understand they probably had a large backlog and were doing their best,” he says. He would be told, “It’s in the system,” but no one could tell him where it was in the system.

Finally, last December, Jordan started thinking about spring flying weather. His 1946 Stinson 108 was itching to fly. He contacted AOPA’s Medical Certification Center and was advised to sign up for AOPA’s Medical Services Program for $37 a year. (There’s an even more comprehensive program available for $99 a year.) He explained his situation to AOPA’s Jacquie Brown and hoped for the best. Less than 24 hours later, she called Jordan.

“Your medical is on the way!” she told him. Jordan was flabbergasted, yet grateful at the speed. “I had a problem and AOPA stepped in and solved it,” Jordan says. “Amazing!”

“The fun of flying is no better than at a small grass strip.” —Bob Minter


ASF Online courses receive prestigious award

The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) presented the AOPA Air Safety Foundation with its 2010 Platinum Award: Best Practices for Distance Learning Programming. Selected from the foundation’s impressive lineup of innovative online safety courses were Runway Safety, Know Before You Go, Essential Aerodynamics, and Accident Case Study: VFR into IMC. These courses—and many others—are provided through generous funds and donations from pilots.

“Our online safety courses are an increasingly important part of our safety education outreach,” said Bruce Landsberg, president of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. “They allow us to reach tens of thousands of additional pilots each year. We are privileged to be able to offer these courses to pilots, and honored to be recognized for their quality.”

“As a premier organization for the entire distance learning profession, we enjoy honoring some of the leaders in the industry,” said Dr. John G. Flores, CEO of USDLA. “Each year these winners raise the bar and exceed best-practice expectations for the industry as a whole, and we are truly honored by their contributions to the distance learning industry.” The USDLA promotes the development and application of distance learning for education and training, and serves learning and training constituencies including business, corporate, military, government, and telehealth markets.

Coming soon are several brand-new ASF online courses, including a flight risk assessment tool. The website offers flight safety subjects ranging from weather to IFR and VFR GPS operations. Take a refresher on navigating the airport environment and top off your knowledge with lessons learned from ASF’s popular Accident Case Studies and Real Pilot Stories series.

Upcoming ASF Safety Seminars:

  • July 28th, Oshkosh, WI
  • July 29th, Oshkosh, WI
  • July 30th, Oshkosh, WI

Tenative schedule; visit the website for confirmed information.

Did you know? FAA announces new taxi procedures

Beginning June 30, you will no longer hear the familiar “taxi to runway” clearance, which currently allows you to taxi across all runways intersecting your path to the takeoff runway. Instead, you will receive a specific clearance to cross each runway.

The clearance starts with the assigned runway, then specifies the taxi route and any initial runway crossing and/or hold-short instructions. For example: “Cessna Four-Golf-Alpha, Runway 36 Left, taxi via Alpha, Charlie, cross Runway 13, hold short of Runway 27.” If multiple runways intersect the route to the takeoff runway, the controller will not issue all the crossing clearances at once.

“Taxi to” will be used when instructed to taxi to the ramp or gate, but you will receive specific crossing instructions for each runway encountered on the taxi route.

For more details and a few real-world examples of the changes, visit the website.

Now Online: VFR into IMC accident map

When will we learn that attempting VFR flight in instrument meteorological conditions is one of the most consistently lethal mistakes in all of aviation? Perhaps a clear visual demonstration in the form of an interactive accident map will help.

Think about this: Since 2002, more than 86 percent of all fixed-wing VFR-into-IMC accidents have been fatal, a higher proportion than for midair collisions, wire strikes, or pilot incapacitation. Mountains aren’t always involved. VFR-into-IMC accidents happen in places as flat as Florida, Wisconsin, and Kansas. To review individual accidents, view the map and mouse over accident locations.

Also check the VFR into IMC Safety Spotlight for tips on how to keep yourself off the map.

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