The funding needs of Michigan airports and a solution to the liability concerns of private airstrip owners were among the topics on the agenda when the Michigan Aeronautics Commission General Aviation Committee met Feb. 17 in Lansing.
AOPA Great Lakes Regional Manager Bryan Budds serves on the committee, which discussed the legislative efforts by the Michigan Private Airstrip Owners Association to win passage of a liability-limiting bill. In 2014, House Bill 5178 passed the Michigan House but encountered resistance in the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 2015 a new effort has been launched, with newly introduced House Bill 4244, to pass liability protection that could increase general aviation pilots’ access to destinations within the state.
The committee also discussed the future of airport funding in Michigan. AOPA continues to work with policy makers to ensure a sustainable long-term funding mechanism for Michigan’s airports, a structure currently lacking despite Michigan’s status as one of the states with the highest rate of taxation of its aviation sector.
Budds also attended a special meeting of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission at which meteorological evaluation towers—and the threat they pose to low-altitude general aviation flight operations—was discussed. He spoke in favor of the towers being marked for collision avoidance, urging the commission to pass a resolution directing the Department of Transportation to seek the legislative change.
"AOPA was pleased to see the Aeronautics Commission take a strong step forward in protecting not only the lives and safety of general aviation pilots but also of the agricultural aviation industry and other low-altitude operators in Michigan," Budds said.
AOPA has also met with legislative leaders on this issue of significant importance to flight safety.
The association also participated in a panel of aviation industry representatives at the Michigan Airports Conference. The session updated general aviation airport operators on efforts AOPA is undertaking to grow the pilot population, advocate for sustainable airport funding, and accomplish other key initiatives.
AOPA was joined by representatives of the National Business Aviation Association and the National Association of State Aviation Officials at the conference, which is organized by the Michigan Association of Airport Executives and MDOT Aeronautics.
"AOPA’s active participation in these activities keeps our members informed about AOPA’s grassroots presence through our Regional Manager Program, and strengthens the organization’s ability to represent general aviation pilots’ interests in Michigan," Budds said.