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The smartest thing in online flight planning now available
Online flight planning just got a facelift and upgrade, courtesy of AOPA. The new online flight planner, FlyQ Web, is the latest addition to the AOPA FlyQ suite of digital flight-planning tools. Key features of the new flight planner include a larger chart viewing area; drag-and-drop waypoint editing (rubberbanding); multiple routing options, including auto-routing based on forecast winds aloft; quick access to airport and FBO information; easy-to-read weather map overlays; and much more. Users can receive legal weather briefings and file flight plans using either CSC DUATS or DTC DUAT.
FlyQ Web provides robust and easy-to-use flight planning that automatically syncs with the other members of the AOPA FlyQ family—FlyQ Pocket (for iPhone or Android smartphones) and FlyQ EFB—for flight planning, aviation weather, and airport information anytime, anywhere.
“AOPA’s online flight planner is consistently the most popular feature of our website,” says Chris Ward, AOPA vice president of eMedia. “We are continually looking for ways to improve our flight planning options for members and are proud to launch FlyQ Web as an example of that pursuit.” FlyQ Web is free for AOPA members.
Protecting our favorite places from threats
In 2012, AOPA’s Airports Team fielded requests for advice and assistance at several hundred airports. More than 70 of those rose to a level of importance that required significant engagement. Here’s a snapshot of a few of the issues under way:
Palmyra Municipal Airport in Wisconsin sits in the Town of Palmyra, but the neighboring Village of Palmyra wants to annex the airport to build a new road for a business adjacent to the airport—cutting off the runway, inhibiting planned improvements, and decreasing utility. AOPA joined local supporters to express concerns over the potential negative impact on the airport. State planners denied the annexation as not to be in the best interests of the town and village.
Norwalk-Huron County Airport in Ohio has long suffered from neglect by the local county commissioners, who have starved it of resources and refused to accept federal Airport Improvement Program funds—even when private donors offered to pay the local matching share. With a property owner to the south seeking to purchase airport property for redevelopment despite its existing federal obligations, AOPA has allied with local pilots to fight for the airport.
At Springdale Municipal Airport in Arkansas and Kendall-Tamiami Executive in Florida, AOPA is working with ASN volunteers to right-size regulation on appropriate hangar use. The FAA prohibits nonaeronautical uses, but many tenants store boats, classic cars, or operate businesses from hangars. At the same time, some airport managers go too far and impose unreasonable restrictions. AOPA is working with the FAA to encourage flexibility in how nonaeronautical uses are defined.
Protecting safety areas is critical to maintaining the usefulness of an airport, and at Tehachapi Municipal Airport in California the ASN volunteer asked AOPA to join the fight against an effort to build a hotel in a mandated safety area. The developer eventually submitted a modified proposal that moves the building outside of the safety zone by a narrow margin.
Airport guiding documents (minimum standards, rules and regulations, and lease documents) are a subject of constant interest to airport users, who often ask AOPA for help. At Olympia Municipal Airport in Washington the airport manager and the ASN volunteer asked AOPA to review their revised regulations to ensure that they were fair and aviation friendly. At Bremerton National Airport in Washington the ASN volunteer contacted AOPA for guidance on a significant update to the airport master plan, as well as the airport rules and regulations.
AOPA’s Airports Team is also working with the FAA’s Airports Office to revisit last year’s ASSET Report on the nation’s GA airports. The first study left uncategorized 497 of the nation’s 3,380 federally funded airports. The FAA invited AOPA, along with other stakeholders, to help resolve the status of these airports, and AOPA is working to help gather the information necessary to ensure these airports received their rightful designation.
Airport improvements depend on both available funding and determined airport supporters. When the two come together, as they did at Columbia Gorge Regional Airport, good things happen. Last year the airport leveled the runway ends, eliminating line-of-sight issues on both of the airport’s runways; and a new business park is taking advantage of the access to aviation and highway traffic. The FBO also built a new 5,000-square-foot maintenance hangar, adding needed facilities to the growing airport. Airport Support Network volunteer Larry Spencer has actively promoted the FBO’s efforts to improve the airport. Is your airport ready to take action? If you are eligible for federal or state airport improvement funds, you must have an FAA-accepted master plan and a current capital improvement plan on file with the FAA. The airport should have a business plan that shows how it plans to grow, and a marketing plan to let its community and region know how the airport can help them grow economically.
A new publication from the Airport Cooperative Research Program can help your airport develop a winning airport business plan. Check it out, as well as other airport resources guides on the ASN webpage under Advocacy Resources.
By Kathy Yodice
AOPA Pilot Protection Services
In my experience, FAA ramp checks are a bit of a mystery. We hear about them, but because there are so many airports and so many airmen—and not as many FAA inspectors—the chances of being ramp checked are not high. Still, it can happen to you any time.
The FAA defines a ramp inspection as “surveillance of an airman, operator, or air agency during actual operations at an airport or heliport,” and it is a routine function for an inspector in response to notification or observation of a possible violation of the FARs or as part of random surveillance. It is the FAA’s policy not to conduct random ramp checks at organized aviation events, although the inspector can still do so if he or she observes something that raises a concern.
For the most part, ramp checks are conducted professionally, cordially, and without much consequence. The FAA inspector is expected to have credentials and to be able to show them to you, so ask to see them. Upon the inspector’s request, you must show your pilot and medical certificates and photo identification, and you must present the aircraft documents, including airworthiness certificate, registration certificate, radio station license (if you have one), operating manual, and weight and balance information. If you’re required to carry a pilot logbook with you on a flight, the inspector can ask to see it.
Note that if you have the aircraft logbooks with you—and I don’t recommend that any logbooks be regularly carried in the aircraft if not necessary for the flight—the inspector may ask to review them, too. If you are carrying logbooks with you, make sure they are up to date. The inspector may hold and review the documentation that you provide, and may make copies on a portable printer, but the inspector must return the documentation to you promptly. The inspector does not have any authority in a ramp check to confiscate your certificates or to ground the aircraft, and the inspector should conduct the inspection in a manner that avoids any delay to your flight.
The inspector likely will walk around the aircraft, in the nature of a preflight inspection, and may ask your permission to board your aircraft to check placards and charts inside the aircraft. If the inspector notices anything amiss during the ramp inspection, the inspector is to communicate his or her observations to you.
Be courteous, remain calm, and be responsive. Listen to what the inspector has to say and avoid volunteering information that may be beyond the scope of the ramp inspection. If practical, have or invite a witness to join you during the ramp inspection. If the inspector is using the ramp inspection as an investigative tool because of a possible violation of the FARs, then the inspector is expected to provide you with a Pilot’s Bill of Rights notification that you are under investigation. Don’t be defensive, but be on guard because the FAA can use anything discovered during the ramp inspection against you.
Kathy Yodice is an aviation attorney for AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services and Legal Services Plan. She’s assisted AOPA members for more than 13 years and is a former FAA attorney. She owns a Cherokee 180 and has been a pilot since 1994.
AOPA Pilot Protection Services guards both your pilot and medical certificates to protect your freedom to fly.
Pilots are busy people—sometimes even too busy to fly! We can get so wrapped up in our activities that before we realize it, our proficiency has lost its edge and our currency lapses. This spring, take the time to get back in the air and enjoy what you love. If you want to review what you need to do to regain your currency, read AOPA’s subject report, Getting Back into Flying, which has information on the flight review and other topics you may need to brush up on, especially if it’s been a few years since you’ve flown. Also, read one pilot’s experiences with recurrency lessons in the series of articles, “Resuming the Journey,” which describe the first few hours of flying after 10 years on the ground.
Get free AOPA membership for life
Have you considered AOPA’s Life Membership? Through a one-time donation of $2,500 to the AOPA Foundation you can get a lifetime membership in AOPA, a $2,000 tax deduction, a framed certificate, a lapel pin, and a special membership card.
The AOPA Foundation relies on donations to strengthen and protect the future of general aviation, so those who fly today can do so safely—and those who dream of learning to fly will have the opportunity to make that dream a reality.
The AOPA Foundation’s Air Safety Institute is the undisputed leader in providing free safety training to tens of thousands of pilots annually. The AOPA Foundation supports a national network of airport volunteers who stand ready to sound the alarm when a local airport is threatened by budget cuts, noise complaints, or development. In addition, the AOPA Foundation is combating the huge dropout rate among student pilots, and helping more student pilots complete their training.
With this $2,500 donation, you’ll not only receive a lifetime membership in AOPA, but you’ll be contributing to the strength and future of general aviation. Make this special donation today.
Receiving VFR traffic advisories
Flight following service, provided by air traffic control on a workload-permitting basis, can offer great assistance and added safety to pilots flying VFR cross-country trips. Not only do you benefit from extra eyes in the sky, but ATC will provide advisories about radar targets that could pose a conflict along your flight path. And, on a long flight alone in the cockpit, it can be just outright nice to be in contact with another human being.
But you should be aware of some limitations and gotchas that come along with this great service. For example, how does flight following work with flights penetrating Class B or C airspace? Are you automatically cleared to enter Class B airspace when receiving flight following? View the Air Safety Institute’s latest Ask ATC: Flight Following and Airspace video (www.airsafetyinstitute.org/askatc) for answers to those questions, and to hear air traffic controllers explain what to watch out for when it comes to other special airspace considerations.
Ask ATC segments are made possible by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
Visit the website for dates and locations near you.
Interested in getting more involved with the Air Safety Institute’s safety initiatives? Join the more than 5,000 enthusiasts who “Like” the Air Safety Institute on Facebook, want to engage with the ASI community, and stay at the forefront of its newest safety products.
Entertaining, even heated discussions on a variety of aviation-themed topics are offset by aviation humor to keep you smiling. Enjoy gorgeous aerial photographs while learning a thing or two about certain weather phenomena. And, you’ll be among the first to know about new ASI products, so you can hone your skills with the latest ASI quizzes, Real Pilot Stories, Accident Case Studies, online courses, and safety publications.
Want to stump your CFI on the next flight review? Glean interesting tidbits about aviation (flying, regulations, procedures, aircraft systems, etc.) that even the most seasoned pilots never knew.
Embark on an inspiring journey and get to know a nice community of people around the world sharing their perspectives on flying and safety. “Like” ASI at www.airsafetyinstitute.org/facebook.
The 2013 AOPA Aviation Summit will be held October 10-12 in Fort Worth, Texas.
As a CFI you understand that there never can be enough resources to help support your students’ goals and aspirations. An AOPA student membership offers a wealth of resources and tools that provide additional inspiration, motivation, and education. Any of the membership opportunities listed below include our standard membership benefits including Flight Training magazine, access to the Pilot Information Center’s toll-free helpline, unlimited use of AOPA’s FlyQ online digital flight planning products (with discounts on others), opportunities for AOPA Flight Training scholarships, and much more!
We also have plenty of resources for CFIs online. For more information on resources for flight instructors, call 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672).