South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson met with pilots recently at the Aiken Municipal Airport to discuss general aviation issues, including proposed reforms to the FAA’s third class medical process and the installation and cost of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out avionics.
Wilson, a Republican who won re-election Nov. 4, announced during the meeting that he would co-sponsor the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act (HR 3708), a U.S. House of Representatives measure to reform the third class medical to allow more pilots to continue flying.
AOPA has been a primary proponent of the reform legislation, which has also been introduced in the U.S. Senate.
"I am proud to co-sponsor this piece of common sense legislation that is a step in the right direction towards removing burdensome, overbearing regulations on general aviation pilots," Wilson said.
Wilson, a member of the House GA Caucus, has been a steady supporter of GA. Wilson, for instance, has consistently opposed aviation user fees that have been proposed in presidential budgets.
GA is a significant driver of the U.S. economy, accounting for 1.25 million jobs and contributing $150 billion annually. In South Carolina alone, GA contributes $417 million annually in economic activity and provides 5,000 jobs.
GA also generates $9.4 million in state property taxes and $1.6 million in jet fuel taxes. More than 753,000 visitors arrive in South Carolina by GA aircraft annually, according to the Alliance for Aviation Across America.
During his meeting with South Carolina pilots, Wilson also discussed the need for the FAA to act on Part 23 certification reform that was signed into law in 2013. That measure will streamline aircraft certification, lower costs, and revitalize the industry. The group also discussed the FAA’s proposed policy on sleep apnea.
Several participants expressed concern about the ADS-B Out system required by the FAA in certain aircraft by 2020. They noted that it will cost pilots about $5,000 to equip their aircraft, yet they may not receive benefits from ADS-B Out.
GA contributes more than $7.5 million in revenue to the economy of South Carolina's second congressional district, which Wilson represents. There are about 600 AOPA members in the district, which is situated in the south central part of the state.
AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Butch Roberson and local AOPA member Bud Coward were both instrumental in helping to organize the event in Aiken. Roberson is a member of the Aiken Municipal Airport board, while Coward is a former South Carolina Aeronautics commissioner and one-time director of the South Carolina Department of Aeronautics.