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Final push seeks to fix Calif. flight training threatFinal push seeks to fix Calif. flight training threat

With the moratorium on enforcing the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 on flight instruction set to expire July 1, AOPA is working with industry groups and the state legislature to ensure that a bill to permanently exempt instructors is signed into law.

The act, as originally passed, would impose onerous new fees and reporting requirements on flight schools and independent flight instructors. Such requirements could put these groups and individuals out of business. AOPA worked with the National Air Transportation Association and others to get a moratorium in 2010 so that flight training groups wouldn’t be forced to comply with the new regulation until July 1, 2011. During that time, the association has worked with state lawmakers to create a bill that would fix the problem.

State Sen. Jean Fuller introduced Senate Bill 619 in February, and the California Senate passed the bill on May 23. AOPA is working to get the bill through the Assembly and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown before the state takes its scheduled summer recess July 15. In the meantime, AOPA also is working to ensure that flight instructors and schools do not need to comply after July 1 while the bill is still working its way through the legislature.

The bill would exempt FAA-approved flight instructors and flight schools that don’t “require students to enter into written or oral contracts of indebtedness, do not require prepayment of tuition or fees, and do not accept prepayment of tuition or feeds in excess of $2,500.”

The general aviation community has rallied behind the California flight training industry in an effort to help protect the students and businesses.

“AOPA is working hard to convince lawmakers that flight training is vitally important to the health of aviation in the state,” said AOPA California Regional Representative John Pfeifer, “and the health of aviation in the state is vitally important to the state economy as a whole.”

AOPA has worked closely with NATA, the National Business Aviation Association, the Association of California Airports, the California Airports Council, the Southwest Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives, the California Pilots Association, and numerous individuals to develop support for the bill. The association also has met with lawmakers, and Pfeifer testified in support of the bill in April; Flight instructor Marc Santacroce and Bridgeford Flying Services CEO Mark Willey also testified on behalf of the bill.

California members also have taken action, asking their elected officials in support of the bill. And Pfeifer said the association isn’t finished needing their help.

“AOPA will be sending out Action Alerts at the appropriate times as the bill progresses,” Pfeifer said. “Members should contact their Senators and members of the Assembly as requested in the alerts.”

Topics: Advocacy

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