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What AOPA is doing to keep you flyingWhat AOPA is doing to keep you flying

NATIONAL ACTION Reps. Jerry Costello (left) and Tom Petri.


Reps. Jerry Costello (left) and Tom Petri.Reps. Jerry Costello (left) and Tom Petri.

Congressmen urge no backtracking on aviation user fees

Reps. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) and Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), senior members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee who are both known for strong statements against general aviation user fees, are championing a no-new-user-fee letter to President Barack Obama, to reject any user fee proposals in his fiscal year 2012 budget.

“We want to reiterate that a user-fee proposal would be a step backward,” Costello said in a recent statement. “This is an issue that we have had bipartisan agreement on in recent years and there is no reason to reconsider it. I will not support a budget or an FAA reauthorization bill that includes user fees.”

The two lawmakers waged a similar campaign in 2009 that received strong bipartisan backing, with 118 House members—more than one-quarter of the full House—signing on to a letter urging against user fees. Petri and Costello argued then that reopening the debate on user fees for the FY 2011 budget would take Congress’s attention away from addressing the Next Generation air transportation system modernization (NextGen). No user fee proposal was included in that year’s budget.

“The message from the House of Representatives to the White House is unmistakable. We appreciate the members staking out their position so unequivocally,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller.

In announcing their new letter, Costello reiterated support for “maintaining the current mechanism of using fuel taxes to support the aviation trust fund.”

“Once again, congressmen Petri and Costello have taken the lead against imposing user fees on general aviation,” said AOPA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Lorraine Howerton. “The last bipartisan letter spoke volumes and we applaud the congressmen for circulating a letter in the new Congress, and we will urge other members to sign the letter to the president opposing user fees.”

Reauthorization pushed to March

Congress passed a measure that extended FAA programs through March—the seventeenth short-term extension since the FAA reauthorization expired in 2007.

“The new dynamics in Congress could produce a completely different bill, which is why it’s important to share the value of general aviation to America with new members of Congress and to recruit new members for the GA caucuses,” said AOPA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Lorraine Howerton.

AOPA worked during the 111th Congress to educate lawmakers about the value of GA to the economy and the importance of maintaining the proven system of funding for aviation programs. The House and Senate passed reauthorization bills that would have preserved that funding system without imposing user fees, but contentious issues not related to GA kept a final bill from reaching the president’s desk.

Short-term extensions allow for continued collection of taxes and authorize programs, such as the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program, to continue. Longer-term FAA reauthorization sets priorities for the FAA and development of the NextGen air transportation system.

Searching for the new avgas

2010 brought ‘new urgency’; 2011 brings new outreach

The effort to switch the general aviation piston-engined fleet to a lead-free fuel is a marathon, not a sprint, AOPA is reminding pilots and aircraft owners. And, the association encourages pilots to keep in mind the project’s overarching threefold mission.

First, the effort must ensure that a continuous supply of the existing aviation fuel is available, assuring the utility of the piston-engine fleet. Second, a process must be established that, working with the FAA, develops and implements a comprehensive program to facilitate the qualification of an unleaded avgas replacement for 100LL. Finally, a timeline must be established that allows adequate time for transitioning to an unleaded solution.

AOPA will champion members’ interests in all phases of this ambitious undertaking, protecting existing fuel supplies and making sure that a solution works for the industry and provides aviation with a fuel for the future.

Although many pilots are just learning that momentum is gathering for this fundamental shift to an unleaded fuel, AOPA has long been engaged—working with the FAA, communicating with the EPA, connecting with researchers wherever they are doing their crucial work, and participating in industry efforts—to find a solution that will work across the board.

AOPA is intensifying its outreach to pilots, explaining how fuel supplies will be secured in the short and the long term. The association also will work to help pilots find the specific information they require for future planning.

FCC halts pursuit of 121.5 MHz ELT ban

The Federal Communications Commission recently stayed a rule that would have prohibited the certification, manufacture, importation, sale, or use of 121.5 MHz emergency locator transmitters (ELTs).

The rule, if enacted, would have required the replacement of 121.5 MHz ELTs with 406 MHz ELTs at a direct cost to aircraft owners. It also could have caused a shortage of the 406 MHz ELTs, leading to the potential grounding of aircraft until units became available. AOPA expressed concern to the FCC and FAA, coordinated with other aviation groups, and provided information about ELTs to members of Congress. In a letter to the FCC, the association highlighted its concerns and asked the FCC to rescind the rule and engage the aviation industry. The FCC stayed the prohibition at the request of the FAA.

“This reversal is evidence that a coordinated effort from the aviation community can effect change and prevent a harmful proposal from becoming law,” said AOPA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Rob Hackman. “We were able to explain that 121.5 MHz ELTs are not obsolete, and that the proposal to require their replacement would be both impractical and unwise. The FAA’s involvement, and the FCC’s receptiveness, helped ensure this positive outcome.” The ban was never published in the Federal Register, which would have set a timeline for the rule going into effect.

AOPA has long held that the benefits of advanced ELTs must be balanced against cost and the needs of the individual aircraft owner. AOPA supports the installation of these more advanced ELTs on a voluntary basis, but maintains that decisions to replace an existing ELT should be left to the discretion of the aircraft owner.



The number of newly elected state legislators across the country
to take office this year (23.7 percent of the total number of seats).

The number of Republican senators in the Democratic-controlled
Hawaii State Senate (the total margin is 24 to 1).

The number of Speakers of the House in the Oregon legislature. The two parties agreed to a power-sharing agreement after the elections left the chamber evenly divided at 30 to 30.

1 California—Court backs FAA: Santa Monica can’t ban jets

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has denied a petition from Santa Monica, California, to review the FAA’s decision that the city could not ban certain jet traffic at Santa Monica Airport. The FAA had stopped the city from going forward with an ordinance to ban large turbine aircraft from operating at the airport and ruled that it had no authority for the ban. The appeals court upheld the FAA decision, finding that the action was not “arbitrary and capricious.” AOPA has long been involved in the dispute at Santa Monica and provided input as a friend of the court in the city’s appeal. “The outcome of this case could have had tremendous negative impacts on any federally obligated airport—allowing local officials to implement restrictions on operations in spite of FAA grant assurances and federal law,” said AOPA Vice President of Airport Advocacy Bill Dunn, who attended the October 2010 hearing with AOPA legal counsel Kathy Yodice. “Instead, the court reaffirmed the FAA’s authority to safeguard airports’ role in the national air transportation system.”

2 Oklahoma—Management out, lights back on at Oklahoma airpark

The Cherokee County Commission recently took over operations from a local airport authority that the commission concluded had become unable to manage the airport. One of the first things the commission did next was to reverse the airport authority’s move to shut down the pilot-controlled lighting along the airport’s 2,600-foot sod runway. Tenkiller Lake Airport’s AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Valerie Westedt spearheaded the local effort to restore safe conditions by engaging the county commission and by providing AOPA with research to mount the offensive. Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airport advocacy, praised Westedt as an excellent example of what pilots can achieve when they rally to protect their interests.

3 South Carolina—S.C. panel urges aircraft tax reduction

A yearlong review of South Carolina’s tax structure found that the state levies comparatively low taxes but faces “structural deficiencies” that could threaten its ability to raise stable revenue in the future. The report by the South Carolina Tax Realignment Commission noted that, “property taxes on private passenger airplanes are amongst the highest in the nation,” and recommended that lawmakers “consider lowering the assessment ratio on private passenger aircraft.” The report described South Carolina’s property tax system as “a product of extremes,” that included a low tax burden on urban primary residences and very high tax levies on boats and airplanes. AOPA is studying the report’s recommendations and will review legislative initiatives resulting from it.

4 Montana—Montana bill to cut aeronautics board tabled after outreach

A bill that would have disbanded the Montana Aeronautics Board was tabled for no further action in committee after AOPA and the state aviation community reached out to the sponsor to explain the bill’s potential impact. Montana Sen. Kendall Van Dyk sponsored the bill, S.B.181, which would have consolidated the nine-member volunteer board into one position on the state’s transportation board as a cost-saving measure. AOPA Northwest Regional Representative Mike Ferguson, who served as Aeronautics Division administrator for 27 years, contacted Van Dyk to explain the critical role of the board in providing invaluable counsel throughout his tenure. “State lawmakers are facing difficult budget decisions this year, and Senator Van Dyk saw this bill as a way to cut costs,” Ferguson said. “He didn’t realize initially what the impact could be to Montana pilots, but he listened to members of the aviation community and responded to our concerns.”

5 Maine—Aircraft use tax repeal effort relaunched in Maine

“My bill seeks changes in tax law to make Maine more welcoming to airplane owners,” said Senate President Kevin Raye. “These changes should also provide an economic boost to Maine’s many municipal airports and their surrounding communities.”

With a new majority in place, the Maine Senate will take up a bipartisan effort to repeal the notorious aircraft use tax that can slap out-of-state owners of new aircraft with bills for up to 5 percent of the aircraft’s value. State Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, a Democrat from Brunswick, and the Senate’s new president, Kevin Raye, a Republican, have begun work on separate drafts of legislation that would repeal the tax Maine imposes on the value of visiting aircraft weighing less than 6,000 pounds that spend more than 20 days in the state within a year of purchase. AOPA Director of State Government Affairs Mark Kimberling had met with Raye and then governor-elect Paul LePage this past year to discuss this issue and to urge the legislature to renew the effort to repeal this longstanding general aviation and economic impediment. The Mid-Coast Regional Redevelopment Authority, which has been tasked with attracting new aviation business to the now-civilian-controlled Brunswick Naval Air Station, is also a strong supporter of the tax reform. A previous effort to repeal the tax failed in 2008 when a legislative appropriations committee seeking revenue sources to fill a large budget gap gutted a bill that would have exempted out-of-state aircraft owners from the use tax. Still, AOPA remains optimistic that this onerous tax will be reformed once and for all this year because of the new majority’s focus on long-awaited tax reform to save jobs and help re-invigorate Maine’s economy.


Are you at risk of identity theft?

Prevent identity theft with LifeLock services from AOPA.How safe is your identity? If you have a bank account, use an accountant, go to the doctor, or have been to a hospital—you are at risk. About 500 million personal files have been exposed by corporations and governments in the last five years. Your information is out there, so it is simply a question of when someone buys your information to use.

Identity thieves use your information to create benefits for themselves and havoc for you. Whether they create new loans, buy houses, or get jobs and don’t pay taxes—if they do it with your information, it is your headache. More than 11 million people suffered this headache in 2009, and the numbers for 2011 are expected to be higher. Be sure to protect yourself and your family today. Learn more online.

A portion of all revenue generated will be returned to AOPA and reinvested to support our daily efforts to maintain the freedom, safety, and affordability of general aviation.

New health screenings give AOPA members the power of prevention

Maintaining good health is important to everyone, but it is especially critical for pilots, and the significant role preventive care plays in warding off medical issues can’t be ignored. AOPA understands the importance of pilots being proactive about their health, and we are pleased to announce our partnership with Life Line Screening. These state-of-the-art screenings will not only help keep our members flying, but they also could alert you to possible serious health issues.

Using the latest medical technology, Life Line Screening’s ultrasound scans aid discovery of health risks before they become too serious. For example, strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, but more than 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. Under current FAA guidelines, a stroke requires up to two years of recovery time before a medical certificate can be reissued, which is a highly motivating reason to practice preventive medicine. In a painless screening that takes just minutes, Life Line Screening can visualize the inside of carotid arteries and determine plaque buildup. That is important because four out of five people who have a stroke have no prior symptoms.

Other painless ultrasound screenings check for atrial fibrillation, abdominal aortic aneurysm, peripheral arterial disease, and osteoporosis. AOPA members are able to receive these potentially life-saving screenings at a discounted rate. Life Line will even notify you when screenings are available in your area.

More than 6 million Americans have already taken advantage of these important screenings, and we are delighted to offer them to our members. To learn more about Life Line Screenings go online or call 888-808-8895.

AOPA Airport Support Network

Baytown Airport: Cleared for takeoff

Baytown Airport ( HPY) was one of Texas’ most promising general aviation airports upon its establishment in the late 1930s. After many vibrant years, however, this southeastern Texas airport began to deteriorate, with the most devastating blow dealt in 2008 at the hands of Hurricane Ike. With significant damage to the airport, some saw the destruction as an opportunity to seek the airport’s closure, but AOPA Airport Support Network Volunteer Don Jones and the newly selected airport manager, Charles Danley, saw this as an opportunity of a very different type.

Airport Manager Charles Denley (left) and AOPA ASN Volunteer Don Jones.Together, Jones and Danley worked with local, state, and federal officials and the public to garner support for Baytown’s revitalization. Since then, HPY has had significant upgrades completed, including new instrument approaches, runway and taxiway improvements, more than 25 new hangars, and new pilot facilities. With based aircraft growing more than 35 percent and fuel sales growing 40 percent or more each year, Jones and Danley see even more opportunity for improvement at Baytown.

“The Baytown Airport is growing into one of the finest GA airports in the Houston area,” Jones says. “Our low fuel cost, pilot services, excellent airport management, and strong relationship with the community make Baytown a premiere GA airport. There is nowhere to go but up!”

For more information on learning how to volunteer for AOPA, visit AOPA Online.

Air Safety Institute

Connect with ASI on Facebook


March 7

Portland, OR

March 7

Rochester, MN

March 8

Cedar Rapids, IA

March 8

Seattle, WA

March 9

Bedford, MA

March 9

Bellevue, NE

March 10

Olathe, KS

March 14

Ypsilanti, MI

March 15

Cleveland, OH

March 16

Columbus, OH

March 21

Indianapolis, IN

March 21

Northbrook, IL

March 22

Birmingham, AL

March 22

Bolingbrook, IL

March 23

Gaithersburg, MD

March 23

Marietta, GA

March 23

Rockford, IL

March 24

St. Louis, MO

March 31

Lakeland, FL

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.

Did you know the Air Safety Institute (formerly the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, aka ASF) has its own brand-new Facebook page?

Grab the chance to join ASI’s fan club and keep up with the latest products, share thoughts with other fans, and find out about upcoming events and safety seminars. The page brings together links to ASI’s award-winning online courses, safety quizzes, Real Pilot Stories, blogs, Pilot Safety Announcements (PSAs), safety articles, Accident Case Studies, and other great programs.

But that’s not all! It’s a great place for pilots to exchange ideas about flying. Share stories of first solos, exciting trips, close calls, lessons learned,
and more.

A heads up: Fans of “ASF” Facebook should switch and join “ASI” Facebook since the ASF presence will be phased out over the next few months.

New with ASI’s Facebook is the ability to donate to—and promote—ASI’s cause. Please consider helping ASI to keep flying affordable, safe, and accessible: Just click on the “Cause” tab, scroll down the page, and click on the AOPA Foundation link to make a tax-deductible contribution. You can also share this important safety cause with your Facebook friends.

Won’t you help us raise the safety initiative by sharing ASI’s programs, courses, and accident studies with others? Accident prevention is key to securing GA’s future.

Have fun writing on ASI’s wall— become a fan today.

Accident Case Study: Airframe Icing

ASI Accident Case Study: Airframe IcingA tragic 2005 accident in California illustrates the unrelenting power of structural icing—one of the greatest hazards of winter flying for GA aircraft. Structural ice can accumulate quickly, decreasing lift and increasing drag to the point where continued flight is impossible. The Air Safety Institute’s Accident Case Study: Airframe Icing puts you in the lonely cockpit of a Cirrus SR22 as its pilot struggles to escape ice-filled clouds high above the Sierra Nevadas. Actual ATC audio and dramatic Microsoft Flight Simulator re-creations provide Take the course, which qualifies for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and the FAA Wings program.

Safety and now forgiveness with ASI’s mini-courses

An ASI full-length online course qualifies you for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and the FAA Wings program.Now, ASI’s online mini-courses also qualify. You must complete two mini-courses every six months instead of one, and provide a certificate, if requested.

Several years ago, the AOPA Insurance Agency, Chartis Aerospace, and AOPA joined the ASI initiative aimed at improving pilot safety consciousness while helping to lower a pilot’s out-of-pocket expenses in the event of an accident. The United States Aircraft Insurance Group (USAIG), Phoenix Aviation Managers, and Starr Aviation also adapted the program to select policies available to their clients. Through this collaboration, these four carriers offer accident forgiveness and deductible reward programs to support their client pilots’ participation in the ASI program.

Which mini-courses qualify? Here’s the current list:

  • Accident Case Study: Airframe Icing,
  • Accident Case Study: VFR into IMC,
  • A Pilot’s Guide to Flight Service,
  • Chart Challenge: VOR Approach,
  • Chart Challenge: ILS Approach,
  • Chart Challenge: RNAV Approach, and
  • Pneumatic Systems.

Visit AOPA online and scroll down the page where the mini-courses are presented.

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