Eliminating unnecessary cost burdens for flight training providers and assuring obstruction-free land development around airports were among legislative priorities that AOPA raised with Iowa lawmakers at a Transportation Day event in Des Moines.
Yasmina Platt, AOPA’s Central/Southwest regional manager, attended the Transportation Day at the Capitol event, at which general aviation was recognized as an important mode of transportation, on Feb. 24. She joined representatives of Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa Public Airports Association in bringing general aviation’s position on those issues to legislators and policy makers.
AOPA and other aviation organizations are urging an exemption for flight schools and independent flight instructors from provisions of an anti-fraud law that requires entities involved in education to obtain a $50,000 bond, and submit documentation to the Iowa College Student Aid Commission.
Flight training providers would be spared the bonding requirement—which could cost a small flight school hundreds or thousands of dollars—if the "flight instruction provider or program does not require students to enter into written or oral contracts of indebtedness," Platt said.
She noted that most flight training is conducted on a pay-as-you-go basis and does not require trainees to make advance tuition payments that the bonding requirement is intended to assure will not be lost if the school closes. Recently, several Iowa flight schools received letters notifying them that they were out of compliance with the bonding and administrative requirements, Platt said.
In 2011, a similar requirement, which was intended to protect students who had paid large sums up front for tuition, threatened to wreak havoc on California’s flight training industry, until reforms were passed, as AOPA reported at the time.
Other advocates for the exemption include the Iowa Aviation Promotion Group and the Iowa Public Airports Association, she said.
Platt also presented AOPA’s objections to HSB 167, a bill that could create a flight-safety hazard around airports and threaten their federal development funding.
"This bill would eliminate provisions of the Iowa Airport Zoning Act, weakening compatible land use control around airports," she said. "That, in turn, would threaten airports’ eligibility for FAA Airport Improvement Program funding because of potential violations of FAA Grant Assurance 21."
In a letter to state Rep. Peter Cownie (R-District 42), chairman of the House Commerce Committee, Platt noted that the zoning law "protects Iowa airports (utility and public investment), protects the lives and property of users of the airport and of occupants of land and other persons in the vicinity, promotes aviation safety, and enables airports the ability to comply" with grant terms that limit the use of adjacent land to purposes compatible with aviation.
While in Des Moines, Platt also met with several legislators who support or participate in GA including state Reps. Gary Worthan (R-District 11); Terry C. Baxter (R-District 8); Ken Rizer (R-District 68); Zach Nunn (R-District 30); and Darrel Branhagen (R-District 55).