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AOPA's Rudinger to serve on RTCA boardAOPA’s Rudinger to serve on RTCA board

Standards-setting organization looks to aviation’s futureStandards-setting organization looks to aviation’s future

AOPA Vice President of Government Affairs Melissa K. Rudinger has been elected to the Board of Directors of RTCA, the private, not-for-profit association that works to establish aviation’s modernization standards by developing consensus among industry interests, in cooperation with the FAA.

AOPA Vice President of Government Affairs Melissa Rudinger. Photo by Chris Rose.

Rudinger has been active since 1992 with RTCA, which was founded in 1935 as the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics. The organization has provided a foundation “for virtually every modern technical advance in aviation,” according to the organization’s website. AOPA works closely with RTCA and has advocated for action on a variety of fronts, resulting in efforts to improve the graphic depictions of temporary flight restrictions (TFRs), develop recommendations to improve the Notice to Airmen system, and mitigate the impact of scheduled GPS outages on aviation, among other issues.

Rudinger has participated in developing policy recommendations and standards for GPS, airspace, the FAA’s NextGen modernization program, and drones—an area described by RTCA’s outgoing president, Margaret Jenny, as “the single biggest change since the advent of aviation.” In 2015, Rudinger received the RTCA Achievement Award in recognition of her role on the NextGen Advisory Committee’s NextGen Integration Working Group.

She will serve on RTCA’s governing board at a time when the organization’s leadership is changing with the retirement of Jenny in August after 10 years at RTCA’s helm, and as numerous RTCA committees hone their focus on a wide range of critical aviation standards, many to address new technologies. A search for a replacement for Jenny was in progress.

“Melissa Rudinger has been a great asset at AOPA for more than 25 years and led a number of our most important initiatives,” said AOPA President Mark Baker, a former RTCA board member who also served on RTCA’s NextGen Advisory Committee from 2010 to 2018. “She knows the issues that matter to pilots and how to get things done in Washington, and she will be a strong voice for general aviation on the RTCA board as they work to make our skies even safer and more efficient.”

Former AOPA President Craig Fuller also is a past RTCA board chair and member. He stepped down in July.

Rudinger is a commercial pilot with a lighter-than-air rating who has been in aviation for more than 30 years, has run a local airport business, and has received FAA Academy training in Airspace Design and Analysis, Air Traffic Management, Terminal Procedures Development, and Environmental Policy.

At AOPA she has led the government affairs team that advocates for general aviation on matters affecting airmen, aircraft, and air traffic control at the federal, state, and local levels. She currently heads AOPA’s participation in the FAA’s NextGen modernization initiative, is serving as co-chair of the FAA’s NextGen Advisory Committee Subcommittee, and is leading AOPA’s initiative to promote sound policies for safe integration of drones into the National Airspace System.

Other major AOPA initiatives she has worked on include:

  • Establishing the FAA’s User Group Process for designing Class B airspace nationwide;
  • Leading AOPA’s advocacy efforts to get general aviation flying again and restore airspace access nationwide after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001;
  • Leading AOPA’s advocacy efforts to modernize the FAA Flight Service Station system; and
  • Serving as AOPA’s representative to the European Union for establishment of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The other members of the RTCA Board of Directors include Chair Steve Brown, chief operating officer of the National Business Aviation Association; Co-chair Steve Timm, vice president and general manager of air transport systems, Rockwell Collins; Sharon Pinkerton, senior vice president of legislative and regulatory policy, Airlines for America; and Carl Esposito, president of electronic systems, Honeywell Aerospace.

Future standards

A glimpse of RTCA’s long-term focus emerged at a June meeting of its Program Management Committee. The session defined the roles of 18 RTCA special committees that create standards intended to “encourage innovation and serve as the basis for meeting Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations,” RTCA said in a news release. The announcement added that another key function is to ensure “the operational application of the technical standards.”

The committee also announced approval of several standards covering technical areas ranging from performance requirements for nose-mounted aircraft radomes and guidelines for airport security access control systems to new GPS antenna technology for air carriers and general aviation—needed to keep pace with the modernization of the GPS system.

RTCA’s Program Management Committee is scheduled to meet again on Sept. 20, it said in a July 13 letter to the FAA that detailed the actions from the summer 2018 session.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, Technology

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