Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free membership trial today! Click here

Membership News and Notes: FAA eases approval for angle-of-attack indicators

Could improve GA safety

Safety experts have identified the angle-of-attack indicator as something that could greatly improve general aviation safety.

MNN AOASafety experts have identified the angle-of-attack indicator—a device on the instrument panel that tells the pilot he is about to have an aerodynamic stall—as something that could greatly improve general aviation safety. The FAA will simplify design approval requirements for the device, and opened an intriguing door to additional such systems at the same time. The FAA said the action could lead to streamlined approval of other add-on systems in the future.

Angle-of-attack devices, common on military and large civil aircraft, can be added to smaller airplanes to supplement airspeed indicators and stall-warning systems, alerting pilots of a low-airspeed condition before a dangerous aerodynamic stall occurs, especially during takeoff and landing.

“We have eliminated major barriers so pilots can add another valuable cockpit aid for safety,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “These indicators provide precise information to the pilot, and could help many avoid needless accidents.”

Under the new policy, manufacturers must build the indicators according to standards from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ATSM) and apply for FAA approval for the design via a letter certifying that the equipment meets ATSM standards.


What AOPA is doing to keep you flying

AOPA opposes recommendation to phase out 121.5 MHz ELTs

AOPA vigorously opposes the Federal Communications Commission’s on-again, off-again bid to ban ELTs that transmit on 121.5 MHz, pointing out that it amounts to a mandate for aircraft owners to switch over to another single technology, rather than allowing pilots to choose equipment that is best suited to the flying they do. The ban would place FCC rules in conflict with laws that allow use of 121.5 MHz units in aircraft. The agency failed to include a cost/benefit analysis in its proposal, or discuss the safety benefits it believes the rule would provide.

General aviation aircraft are required by law to carry ELTs. The 121.5 MHz units, although no longer monitored by satellites, do meet regulatory requirements. Over the years, AOPA has educated members to the alternatives available to 121.5 MHz ELTs, including 406 MHz ELTs, personal locator beacons, and other commercial services. “AOPA maintains that pilots are the best in determining the equipment that is best suited to their location and type of flying,” said Rob Hackman, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. “Mandating a single technology, in this case 406 MHz ELTs, could freeze GA’s use of technology at the current level.”

FAA/industry safety talks highlight technology

The FAA and general aviation leaders gathered to discuss aviation safety and the need to bring new technology into the existing fleet during a meeting of the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC), hosted by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. The committee, which is co-chaired by the FAA and the AOPA Foundation’s Air Safety Institute, was created to bring a data-driven approach to managing government and industry efforts to reduce fatal GA accidents. Much of the discussion centered on efforts to allow new equipment into older cockpits, which could bring enormous safety benefits to the GA community. “We need to keep moving forward with regulatory and policy reforms that support safety,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Pilots want to be able to put the latest safety equipment in their aircraft, but we need to make it easier and more affordable to do.”

Did you know:In most states, it is up to the committee chair to decide what bills are scheduled for hearings. And, with thousands of bills filed annually in each session, many bills never receive any consideration at all in a session. That is why it’s often the first job of an advocate to build early support for a bill and get it scheduled.

Action in the states

New Mexico: Cuts in GA taxes are bid to boost the industry

New Mexico legislators took a strong step in their continued pursuit to be the nation’s aviation and aerospace leader with the passage of an AOPA-backed bill to exempt GA aircraft maintenance from the state’s 5-percent gross receipts tax. “This measure will finally stem the migration of aircraft out of state for maintenance, and boost revenue and jobs at the many maintenance facilities in the state,” said AOPA Regional Manager Yasmina Platt. “Additionally, this measure will amount to hundreds and even thousands in much-needed tax savings for our members.” The measure will take effect July 1, and was also actively supported by leaders of the state’s aviation business community, especially AOPA member Ron Tarrson. Other maintenance shops are expected to open in New Mexico as well.

Wisconsin: Latest state to enact a sales tax exemption on GA maintenance

AOPA partnered with EAA and several local stakeholders to pass this significant legislation after it failed to gain traction last session. “Wisconsin legislators took notice of Indiana’s similar measure from last session, and the potential for economic benefit from increased aviation activity,” said AOPA Great Lakes Regional Manager Bryan Budds. “In the end, we were able to convince legislators of the importance of competitive tax rates in an increasingly competitive Midwest region where both Ohio and Indiana have exemptions already in place.” Gov. Scott Walker is expected to sign the measure, which would take effect on July 1.

Florida: AOPA teams with Piper, others to tackle additional tax reform

Florida lawmakers are not resting on their laurels when it comes to managing their enviable multi-billion-dollar state general aviation industry. Just a few years after AOPA worked with Florida leadership to rid the state of the then-infamous use tax—followed by an industry-boosting GA sales tax exemption—the legislature is now eyeing further changes in the form of a sales tax exemption on aircraft sales and purchases.

The intent of the legislation (Senate Bill 1296) is to attract more aircraft to be based in the state—along with the accompanying economic activity and much-needed jobs. “Similar reform enacted in other states has revealed an unequivocal relationship between the flow of GA activity and significant disparities in state tax rates, as nearly all owners and operators fastidiously manage operating costs,” said AOPA Director of State Government Affairs Mark Kimberling. “And while passage of this measure this session is a long shot, given the approaching elections, AOPA will work vigorously on this legislation throughout this session and into next year—if that is what it takes to get this signed into law.”

Airport support network

Perseverance pays for ASN volunteer and fellow pilots

MNN ASNASN volunteer Bill Quinlan and his fellow pilots know that persistence and community involvement are imperative to an airport’s future. The Lakes of the North Airport (4Y4) in Gaylord, Michigan, is a privately owned, public-use facility in a resort community and is faced with many of the same challenges as airports across the country.

Needing a new runway, airport users were faced with persuading the surrounding property association to support the project and find the funding to accomplish it. The airport committee focused on these two issues and set goals. By creating well-received community events at the airport and establishing a solid relationship with Michigan’s Bureau of Aeronautics, the flying community was successful in accomplishing their much-needed goal of a new runway.

Quinlan says that “the lessons learned by this airport committee are reinforced in the AOPA ASN educational/resource materials that result in positive exposure for the airport in the community.” Advocacy resources can be found on AOPA’s website and through ASN staff ready to help with problems at your airport.


AOPA Foundation

Do you know about the Hat in the Ring Society? Take a leadership role in protecting general aviation (

Join us

Toss your hat in the ring for the future of general aviation

1918, France: The 94th Aero Squadron pilots created their squadron’s insignia to commemorate the United States’ entry into World War I. They adopted the phrase of tossing one’s “hat in the ring” (a boxing expression to signify one’s willingness to become a challenger) and symbolized it with a red, white, and blue top hat in a ring.

Today’s AOPA Foundation’s Hat in the Ring Society is named for the World War I fighter squadron led by legendary ace Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, who flew his famous Spad with the Hat in the Ring symbol painted on the fuselage. The society recognizes its members who “toss their hat in the ring” through contributions to the AOPA Foundation in support of GA (see “Foundation Focus: If You Believe,” March 2014 AOPA Pilot).

Join actor and GA advocate Harrison Ford; actors and pilots Morgan Freeman, Chris Meloni, and Dave Coulier; aviation author Stuart Woods; airshow star Michael Goulian; and celebrity chef Alton Brown in continuing the AOPA Foundation’s efforts to rebuild general aviation’s pilot ranks and bring flying within reach of more Americans. Contact Justin Biassou (301-695-2268).

And now for some airplane panel amusement

MNN ASIDistractions while flying can be hazardous, often forging one of the most dangerous links in an accident chain. Want to know more? Fly along with the Air Safety Institute “iPanel” Pilot Safety Announcement (PSA), which takes a decidedly tongue-in-cheek look at the modern electronic cockpit’s endless opportunities for distraction. Be assured, it’s only a satirical reminder that aircraft are still aircraft and need a pilot mentally aboard. Enjoy the ride and remember to fly the airplane not the panel.

Attend ASI’s spring seminar Accident case study: Live

Visit for dates and locations near you.

Sky rules

Learn airspace on the go with e-Flash cards

Are you allowed to fly through an active warning area without contacting ATC? How about a Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA)?

Whether you’re cramming for your checkride or preparing for cross-country flight, it’s your responsibility to fly safe and make sure you know your airspace—in depth. Learning the rules that govern our sky can be a tedious task and if you’re facing a checkride, describing complex airspace nuances may be a bewildering and daunting experience unless you’re prepared.

That’s why the Air Safety Institute has developed a handy set of airspace flash cards, optimized for mobile devices, so you can study the various airspace dimensions and regulations, pain free and on the go!

From basic chart interpretation to understanding temporary flight restrictions, you’ll come away with important navigation facts before takeoff. The flash cards make it practical, easy, and even enjoyable for pilots at any certificate level to absorb critical knowledge and keep the different airspace categories straight. Each card includes a color depiction of the airspace, a description of its characteristics, and a discussion question.

Download the cards to your mobile device, such as a tablet or smartphone, and make sure to share the download link with your pilot friends.

Member Services

AOPA Plus membership is now AOPA Premier

Our best AOPA membership just got a whole lot better

MNN AOPA PlusFor years, thousands of AOPA members have enjoyed the extra benefits and services provided through AOPA Plus. Now, AOPA Plus is AOPA Premier—but we’ve changed a lot more than the name. We’ve added even more value, and more savings, all in an affordable membership package.

More benefits:

• AOPA Premier Member lapel pin and decal specially designed to recognize your extra support for our freedom to fly.

• Complimentary digital subscription to your primary magazine—either AOPA Pilot or Flight Training.

• Advance screening of AOPA Air Safety Institute online courses.

• 10 additional sweepstakes entries (see official rules on the website).

More savings:

• 10 percent discount on AOPA Pilot Protection Services/Legal Services Plan.

• 10-percent discount on apparel items at the AOPA Online Store with a minimum purchase of $25.

• Exclusive discounts and special offers from manufacturers and retailers, delivered straight to your email.

More services:

• Priority access to the AOPA Pilot Information Center’s staff of aviation specialists through a dedicated phone line and email address.

• AOPA Navigator one-on-one concierge service, connecting you with an AOPA representative to provide personal assistance for all of your membership needs.

• Advance notice of upcoming AOPA educational seminars and webinars.

• Invitations to local and regional events with AOPA leadership and your fellow pilots.

As an AOPA Premier Member, your dues help support critical AOPA efforts to strengthen our advocacy efforts, win key political battles, and share our aviation dream with local citizens and the next generation of pilots.

Visit or call 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672) to join or upgrade your membership.

Plus, enjoy a special sign-up gift—a free AOPA Airports Directory (a $39.95 value) .

Food for thought

With all of the controversy over the FAA’s sleep apnea issues, I thought I would throw out some data to keep you thinking. I obtained this data from the Aerospace Medical Certification’s 2011 Statistical Handbook. This data was pulled from the FAA’s Document, Imaging, and Workflow (DIWS) system. That’s the computer program that the FAA uses to work the medical examinations that all pilots must obtain. It has all the pilots’ examinations in electronic format. The FAA flight exams that your AME performs are input into this system.

As of December 31, 2011, there were a total of 39,191 females and 555,627 males with current medical certificates. This data included all classes of medical certificates. You have been hearing about the BMI (body mass index) as the calculation on which the FAA planned to base its OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) policy. The mean BMI for females was 24.2 and males 27.2. The “mean” is a statistical measure of central tendency. The actual definition of the “mean” is the sum of all values in a series divided by the number of actual values. The FAA wants your AME to calculate your BMI each time you come in for an examination.

For all classes of airmen, the mean weight for females was 147.6 pounds and males 192.8. Since we deal mostly with private pilots or third class airmen, the mean weight for third class females was 148.4 and males 193.9.

The FAA defined an “overweight” airman as one whose BMI was between 25 and 29.9 and an “obese” airman was a BMI greater than 30. So, as of December 31, 2011, there were 8,879 females of all classes who were in the “overweight” category and 4,078 in the “obese” and 255,488 males in the “overweight” and 124,973 in the “obese” groups. As far as the third class overweight category, there were 4,789 females and 115,692 males. The “obese” third-class had 2,193 females and 61,449 males.

Dr. Warren Silberman is the former manager of FAA Aerospace Medical Certification and a doctor of osteopathic medicine. A pilot since 1986, he is recognized nationally as an expert in aerospace/preventative medicine.

Insurance Services

Flying club insurance

Spring will be here before you know it, and now is the time to set up that flying club. Most clubs have from three to 25 active pilots per airplane, the aircraft are generally equity owned, and are set up under a holding company. LLCs are the most common legal entities and, in addition to the legal and tax advantages, registering an aircraft under an LLC also means the club will not have to re-register every time the club membership changes.

I recommend that a club has sufficient insurance to meet the requirements of the club member who needs the greatest protection. Clubs often find that such coverage limits are not easily available, especially when the club includes lower-time pilots. However, AOPA has recently developed an innovative means to increase the protection of those individual club members needing higher liability coverage limits. Also, the new club policy includes very broad territorial limits; coverage is now available for some multiengine aircraft; and, for the first time, “for profit” clubs can obtain this same broad protection.

Flying club insurance rates are influenced by many factors, but the most important include the make and model aircraft; the insurance coverage limits needed (including aircraft value and liability limits); the number of members per aircraft; the ratings, experience, and claim experience of members; aircraft location (hangared or tied down); and any expanded coverage needed (clubhouse or hangar protection, aviation event and contest coverage, extra equipment and tools, etc.). Clubs operating retractable-gear or high-performance aircraft, or needing significant expanded coverage (such as insurance protection for a club-owned private airfield), should expect to pay higher insurance premiums.

The most commonly requested club quote is for three to four pilots, with a Cessna 152, 172, or PA–28. For example: a Cessna 172 with a $50,000 hull value, hangared, and three pilots, with the lowest time a 100-hour private pilot. Based on liability limits of $1,000,000 each occurrence/$100,000 per passenger and full ground and flight hull insurance, this new club would pay about $818 the first year, or about $23 per member per month. If the club adds a fourth partner the rate drops to $21 a month.

Bill Snead is an aviation insurance professional with more than 35 years of experience.

Answers for pilots

Time to start a flying club?

Find encouragement and practical guidance on forming a flying club with AOPA’s online Guide to Starting a Flying Club. It includes detailed information on getting started, from understanding FAA guidance to setting a budget, selecting an aircraft, marketing your club, understanding insurance, and more. Read more about it in this month’s Answers for Pilots (

By Bill Snead, President, AOPA Insurance Services

More information is available online, or by calling AOPA Insurance Services at 800-622-AOPA (2672).

Related Articles