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AOPA Action

What AOPA is doing to keep you flying

FAA plan charts modernization through 2018 The FAA recently released its updated implementation plan for the transition to a modernized air transportation system. The plan outlines how the agency will act on recommendations from the industry and continue to expand satellite-based navigation and surveillance.

FAA plan charts modernization through 2018

The FAA recently released its updated implementation plan for the transition to a modernized air transportation system. The plan outlines how the agency will act on recommendations from the industry and continue to expand satellite-based navigation and surveillance. The 2010 NextGen Implementation Plan includes increased access to nonradar airspace and small airports, recommendations for which AOPA advocated during its participation in a government/industry NextGen task force.

In the plan, which projects the FAA’s intentions through 2018, the FAA cites testimony from AOPA President Craig Fuller before the House aviation subcommittee in October 2009. “In order to work, NextGen will require the implementation of new technology, both in terms of cockpit equipage and infrastructure. General aviation pilots have always been quick to adopt new technology, particularly when the safety and utility of that technology is evident,” Fuller said.

Infrastructure and procedures implemented over the past year have laid some groundwork for pilots to benefit from NextGen technology. The FAA has developed more than 500 LPV approaches—satellite-based, precision-like approaches enabled by the Wide Area Augmentation System—over the past year. There are now nearly 1,100 LPV procedures available at runways where no ILS is present. In addition, there are now more than 90 Q and T routes (low-altitude RNAV routes) in the United States.

The FAA plans to increase its workforce and continue to deploy LPV approaches at a rate of at least 300 per year. It also said it will provide radar-like services for nonradar airspace at low altitudes using Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). From 2010 to 2013, the FAA will continue to deploy ADS-B ground infrastructure while exploring state and local cost-sharing partnerships. In 2011, it will pursue an expansion of the ADS-B program. ADS-B will be an important part of the modernization process, and the FAA is expected to release the final rule this spring.

AOPA has advocated for making the most of existing capabilities in the airspace system. Modernization plans should utilize equipment that already exists in today’s cockpit, and new technology should build on established equipment, policies, and procedures, said Heidi Williams, AOPA senior director of airspace and modernization. “We cannot afford to equip aircraft if the proper tools are not in place to realize the benefits of our investments.”

The implementation plan describes leveraging existing capabilities by continuing the transition from conventional instrument flight operations to those using performance-based navigation, which includes Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedures. Many aircraft are already RNAV-equipped.

AOPA remains committed to working with the FAA and the industry to ensure that NextGen remains affordable for GA pilots and aircraft owners and provides safety and efficiency at a reasonable cost.


GA groups stick up for backcountry strips

AOPA and the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) are weighing in on a U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service initiative to create a new planning rule that would include restoring forests, protecting watersheds, addressing climate change, and more. The two general aviation associations want to ensure that backcountry airstrips are considered and protected, and that aviation stakeholders are a part of the planning process.

“Our system of national forests and grasslands is one of America’s great natural treasures, and we appreciate efforts to protect those ecosystems today and for future generations,” Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy, told the Forest Service. He pointed out that “these backcountry airstrips play an important role in the ability of the Forest Service to fulfill its mission to ‘sustain the health, diversity, and productivity’ of the nation’s forests and grasslands.”

The Forest Service, which is responsible for managing 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands—and working with state and local agents to protect 500 million acres of nonfederal rural and urban forests—will be preparing an environmental impact statement to fully understand the impact a new planning rule for land management would have on the national forests and grasslands.

“Airstrips are an appropriate use of National Forest System lands as they provide enhanced access for a variety of legitimate recreational activities,” RAF President John J. McKenna Jr. reminded the Forest Service.

AOPA and the RAF pointed out that backcountry strips not only provide access to the land for recreational purposes like hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting, but also for firefighting, forest management, scientific study, emergency services, and search and rescue. Both groups pledged to work with the Forest Service to ensure aviation’s needs are met.

Summit registration now open

Register early and save! This November there’s only one place to land, AOPA Aviation Summit 2010 in Long Beach, California. The event is being held November 11 to 13 but it’s never too early to take advantage of great preregistration prices. Preregistration is now open, so start planning your trip today and save up to 25 percent off! Visit to learn more.


By the Numbers

The number of residents for every public-use airport, by state

1. Alaska


2. North Dakota


3. Montana


48. Connecticut


49. Massachusetts


50. New Jersey



The number of members in the New Hampshire House of Representatives; the third largest parliamentary body in the English-speaking world.


The number of these representatives it takes to introduce a bill to increase taxes on general aviation.


The number of public-use airports currently without an ASN volunteer. Is your airport being protected? Find out online.

1 Washington: Victory at Vista Field: Unanimous vote keeps airport open

Vista Field in Kennewick, Washington, will remain an airport after the Port of Kennewick Commission voted unanimously to support the embattled facility.

The decisive March 8 vote follows three years of dedicated and focused work by AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteer Marjy Leggett, who encouraged pro-airport candidates to seek office and mobilized fellow Washington pilots to come to the aid of the city-owned airport. Leggett even organized ground transportation and overnight accommodations for Washington pilots who flew to Vista Field to attend the crucial meeting. A standing-room-only crowd of about 175 people turned out, and the vast majority strongly supported the airport.

“To all of you from AOPA who supported us, we send you a huge thank you!” Leggett said following the victory.

2 Vermont: Politicians & Planes: A passion emerges from grief

For Vermont State Rep. Janice Peaslee, a single piece of plastic symbolizes the culmination of nearly a decade of work: her private pilot certificate. Peaslee earned her certificate in November 2009. She was the oldest student pilot the examiner had taken on a checkride, but she dismisses age as irrelevant—she won’t even mention the number. Now she pulls the certificate from her wallet and shows it to her colleagues in the state house, pointing out Wilbur and Orville Wright on the back.

“It’s the most gorgeous thing I could ever think of,” she says, beaming.

To read Peaslee’s entire story, visit AOPA Online.

3 California: Pilots protest developer’s vision for Oceano Airport

A Los Osos developer who hopes to see the Oceano County Airport closed so that it can be redeveloped met with substantial opposition at a meeting on March 17. And, while the developer attempted to keep out most of the pilots who showed up, he didn’t succeed in barring AOPA. About 75 pilots joined AOPA Vice President of Local Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn at the meeting to oppose closure. “How many want to see Oceano Airport closed?” Dunn asked the group. No one raised a hand. Dunn told the developer that AOPA would strongly oppose any attempt to close the airport.

Appeals court sides with California pilots

The city of Watsonville, California, violated state law when it approved a plan to eliminate safety zones around Watsonville Municipal Airport to develop the area, an appeals court affirmed March 15. Local pilots have been battling to protect the airport for years; The Watsonville Pilots Association (WPA), the Friends of Buena Vista (FBV), and the local Sierra Club filed suit against the city after it modified safety zones to allow high-density housing close to the airport. The California Court of Appeals decision demonstrates that cities and counties cannot ignore the protections the state has put in place for airports—and affirms the power of local aviation groups in protecting airports.

4 New York: Aviation groups come together at N.Y. Capitol

On March 23, AOPA helped support the New York Aviation Management Association’s (NYAMA) “Advocacy Day” at the state capitol in Albany to deliver aviation’s message straight to decision-makers in the state. A coalition of state, local, and national aviation groups met with over 70 different key legislators throughout the day.

5 North Dakota: Honors aviation

Gov. John Hoeven and Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple recognized the importance of aviation to their state by proclaiming March 7 through 13 North Dakota Aviation Week. Dalrymple presented Hoeven’s proclamation March 8 at the Upper Midwest Aviation Symposium with AOPA Central Regional Representative Bill Hamilton on hand for the event.

6 Montana: Kalispell airport to remain open

Kalispell City Airport in Montana will remain open and in its current location, according to latest discussions between the city and AOPA officials. An active antiairport group has been pushing the city to close and relocate the airport due to noise complaints. AOPA ASN Director Joey Colleran and Regional Representative Mike Ferguson recently joined ASN volunteer Scott Richardson at Kalispell to meet with the city manager and the airport manager to discuss the future of the airport. During the meetings, city staff assured AOPA that the city has no intention of closing this valuable airport.

7 Massachusetts: Governor proposes aircraft sales tax exemption repeal—again

Just two years after AOPA worked with legislators and local groups to defeat the governor’s proposal to do away with the sales tax exemption on aircraft purchases and maintenance, Gov. Deval Patrick has once again proposed to repeal the exemption on aircraft purchases—despite the fact that both exemptions have produced a marked increase in aviation economic activity and jobs in the state.


When you rent an airplane, what coverage do you need?

Don’t assume you’re covered by the FBO where you rent the airplane. Here’s the situation in the simplest possible terms: The FBO that rents you an aircraft is protecting its interests, not yours. You need your own renter’s insurance. Don’t think just about a catastrophic accident; these days, a minor “fender bender” can set you back thousands of dollars. You don’t want a surprise bill arriving in the mail from your FBO.

AOPA research shows that many pilots make a mistake when they assume they are covered when renting an airplane. They’re not. And it gets worse: The FBO’s insurance agency can go after the pilot to recover its own costs after a claim, so the bills can keep coming for months or years.

As an AOPA member, you can buy renter’s insurance from the AOPA Insurance Agency and it’s as easy as buying car insurance. What’s more, as an AOPA member, you get a 5-percent discount off the regular premium and a 10-percent discount when you renew if you have maintained a clean flying record.

AOPA has made it easy for you to get a price quote. To learn more about renter’s insurance or get a free quote, visit the AOPA Insurance Agency online or call 800-622-AOPA (2672). Since this is AOPA-endorsed insurance, you have the added protection of knowing that the policy was created with the general aviation pilot in mind.

AIC Title can make your aircraft purchase easier

No matter what your paperwork and document needs when you are buying (or selling) an airplane, AOPA’s partner—AIC Title Service—can help you. Understanding which documents are needed and what procedures must be followed can be confusing and frustrating, especially if it’s your first airplane purchase. Here are some of the services AIC Title offers:

Title searches can be ordered online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from around the world. A typical title search is delivered within 48 hours; same-day service is available for an additional fee. A title search can be viewed online, via a secure Web link, for you to download, print, or save. AIC Title Service can offer a quick turnaround because all relevant FAA documents are automatically uploaded into the company’s secure server.

With AIC’s automated escrow service, Escrow Tracker, you can use the company as a neutral third party to hold documents and monies until closing and track the status of the transaction in real time. AIC coordinates with the buyer, seller, broker, lender, and attorneys. In addition, AIC can provide the title search, all document filings, title insurance, international registry compliance, LLC verification from the FAA, filing of security agreements, release of funds, and distribution of closing statements.

On the day of closing, you will receive a digital closing statement via Web link with all relevant documents attached. The complete escrow file will include all correspondence received by AIC, including e-mail, fax, and telephone messages.

AIC also offers Document Tracker, which notifies you when the company has received a document, filed it with the FAA, and when the FAA has recorded it. The company’s lien clearance department offers the service.

Visit the Web site to learn more.


The Airport Support Network: Join us!

America’s community airports face an expanding array of challenges. These pressures take many forms, including curfews, noise restrictions, lack of improvements, residential encroachment, and even calls to close the airport.

Often, the general aviation community is unaware of the real dangers to their airport—until it is too late to turn the tide. And too often, AOPA gets a call from a local pilot asking for help just hours before a decision will be made that is critical to an airport’s future. Early knowledge of the political environment surrounding a local airport is vital if we are going to preserve our general aviation infrastructure into the future.

The AOPA Airport Support Network provides the vehicle for AOPA members to work in concert with AOPA to establish that early warning system. Join our efforts today! See if the airport you are based at needs a volunteer and if so, nominate somebody you know, or yourself.

Resources on the ASN Web site include:

  • Organizing your Airport Group
  • The Complete Guide to Holding an Airport Open House
  • AOPA’s Guide for Airport Advocates.

Additionally, the ASN Volunteer Orientation that is currently available only to volunteers will be placed on the ASN public site for May, June, and July. Take the course, learn more about the program and if your based airport doesn’t have a volunteer—volunteer!

The volunteers and staff of the ASN are a dedicated team working to preserve, protect and defend airports. Won’t you join us?

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


NATCA Archie League Awards honor controllers


May 1

Morganton, NC

May 3

Jamestown, NC

May 3

Poughkeepsie, NY

May 4

Cohoes, NY

May 4


May 5

New Bern, NC

May 5

Rochester, NY

May 10

Madison, WI

May 10

Newton, MA

May 11

Milwaukee, WI

May 11

Windsor Locks, CT

May 12

Manitowoc, WI

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.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) held its sixth Annual Archie League Medal of Safety Awards banquet during NATCA’s annual Communicating for Safety conference on March 22. The awards event honors controllers whose actions were critical to the positive outcome of a flight in jeopardy. A panel of aviation experts including AOPA Air Safety Foundation President Bruce Landsberg, professional pilot Brian Townsend, and NATCA safety and technology director and retired air traffic controller Dale Wright selected the 2009 awards recipients from nominees in each ATC region. The prestigious award is named after the first air traffic controller.

“The ability to think quickly and remain calm under pressure while maintaining situational awareness are all unique qualities that air traffic controllers possess. Without their willingness to jump right in to resolve complex situations, offer a reassuring voice to those on the frequency, and coordinate their efforts with other controllers, this group of dedicated professionals wouldn’t be as successful as they are today at maintaining the safety of the National Airspace System. While many controllers often feel that they are ‘just doing their job,’ their hard work is often viewed by others as remarkable and extraordinary,” according to the organization’s Web site.

The awards ceremony offered additional recognition during the evening’s festivities: Landsberg presented 10 Flight Assist Commendations to Archie League nominees who demonstrated exceptional service to general aviation in 2009, while NATCA’s President Paul Rinaldi presented NATCA’s President’s Award to six controllers from the Southern Region for “the calmness under pressure and dedication to safety they displayed on April 12, 2009.” The six controllers, who also received the regional Archie League Medal, saved the King Air flight whose pilot died during the climbout. On board were Doug White, his wife, and two daughters. White, who was a low-time single-engine pilot at the time of the incident, also received recognition from the controllers for his role in the flight’s safe outcome.

“As the recipients of these commendations and NATCA’s own Archie League Awards demonstrate, controllers can be the difference between life and death,” said Landsberg. “When things go wrong or a pilot is in over his head, that calm voice at the other end of the radio can help find a way out of the situation.”

Visit the Web site to view the presentations.

Real Pilot Story with ATC perspective

AOPA ASF’s Real Pilot Stories provide a realistic reenactment of a good flight gone bad, using interactive video and audio—even ATC audio tapes—to share lessons learned.

For a twist on the usual presentation, enter the story of Doug White and his family aboard King Air N559DW when his pilot became incapacitated while climbing through 11,000 feet. Get behind the scopes at Miami Center and Fort Myers Approach with recently added behind-the-scenes interviews with the Southern Region Archie League Medal of Safety Award winners who helped save White and his family.

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