IAOPA represents the federation of 75 AOPAs around the world, from Estonia and Iceland to Australia and the United States. While regional meetings occur more frequently, especially among the European affiliates, the global assembly gathers only every two years. The last one, in 2014, occurred in Beijing, China. After hearing an impressive invitation from the New Zealand delegation, the delegates in Chicago voted to have the next world assembly in Queensland, New Zealand, in March 2018.
AOPA President Mark Baker is also the president of IAOPA. He welcomed the guests at an opening reception, which also was attended by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu. ICAO is a Montreal-based entity that sets global policy on aviation matters. IAOPA has official observer status at ICAO, providing input on issues affecting GA.
Among the duties of IAOPA affiliates are surfacing issues affecting GA and working with other global entities, frequently ICAO, to resolve them and improve the opportunity for success of GA around the world.
During an opening panel discussion in Chicago, Liu encouraged affiliates to share their work and successes in growing the pilot population with ICAO so that others can benefit from individual countries’ successes. Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), shared with the group his work on trying to right-size regulations for European GA. He is credited in his short time at the agency with working hard to reduce unnecessary regulations on GA. Others on the panel, including Baker; Pete Bunce, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association; Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association; and Peggy Gilligan, FAA associate administrator for aviation safety, detailed the challenges facing GA and reported on opportunities for improvement. The issues facing GA in other parts of the world are remarkably familiar to pilots in the United States—high costs of airplanes and fuel, dwindling pilot population, overbearing regulations, airport and airspace access, the emergence of drones, and public perception problems.