“Transparency is a key step forward,” said AOPA General Counsel Ken Mead. “I think it is really great that the aviation industry is coming together, with steadily increasing cooperation from the FBO industry to disclose fees through this modernized tool—but we still have a long way to go.”
The new FBO fee information listed for individual airports in the AOPA Airport Directory debuted in June and includes more detailed fee information than previously published. The directory is viewed approximately 47,000 times each month by pilots planning their flights. AOPA has begun an industrywide outreach campaign to FBOs across the country, encouraging operators to post their fees in AOPA’s directory. Ultimately, AOPA encourages FBOs to voluntarily and proactively update their fees in the directory.
AOPA advocated for FBO fee transparency to help pilots make the best choice of an airport or business to patronize at a destination and let pilots find out before flight whether fees may be imposed, even if no services are required. The industrywide effort to make FBO fees more transparent picked up steam in the past two years, with increasing support from industry groups.
The directory now contains about 40,000 fees from FBOs and information about more than 5,200 public-use airports in the United States. Pilots can access participating FBOs’ listings from an airport’s page in the directory, which now includes a “fee details” section that allows pilots to filter fee listings based on the general kind of aircraft they fly, such as single-engine piston, multiengine turbine, or jet. An AOPA member who is logged in to AOPA.org can elect to have the aircraft choice saved for future use.
The information upgrade was the product of a cooperative effort: AOPA staff analyzed fees charged across the FBO industry and consolidated 120 different types of charges encountered into 36 standardized types used by more than 95 percent of FBOs—fees for such items as after-hours service, engine preheating, hangar fees, tiedown, deicing, and ground power unit (GPU) rate per hour—all including seasonal pricing differences and weekday or weekend fluctuations, said Eric Rush, director of AOPA’s Project Management Office.
The House Appropriations Committee voted to recommend full funding of two workforce development grant programs supported by AOPA and the aerospace industry to develop high school aviation science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum and support aviation maintenance technician initiatives to meet growing demand for aviation workers. The two programs each received committee backing for $5 million in fiscal year 2020. Both programs are authorized for five years, as proposed in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, but require funding through the annual appropriations process.
The pilot education grant program is intended to support the creation and delivery of curriculum and teacher development designed to provide high school students with meaningful STEM and aviation education, and develop the next generation of commercial, general aviation, drone, or military pilots.
The aviation technical workforce grant program includes scholarships and apprenticeships, establishes new training programs, and allows the purchasing of equipment for schools. It also supports career transitions for members of the armed forces.
The pilot education program advances AOPA’s goal of bringing aviation-based STEM education to high school students nationwide through the AOPA High School Initiative, a component of the AOPA You Can Fly program dedicated to supporting and growing the pilot population.
AOPA named Tom Madden Linden, New Jersey, the AOPA Airport Support Network’s Volunteer of the Month. Madden, a 4,000-hour commercial pilot, flight instructor, and airframe and powerplant mechanic, has worked tirelessly on complex problems at Linden Airport, the general aviation airport closest to New York City and to New Jersey’s largest population centers.
“Tom’s investigation produced sufficient evidence to submit a Part 13 complaint with the FAA,” said Mike Ginter, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy. A Part 13 complaint raises questions about an airport’s compliance with its contract for federal grant funds.
“In October 2017, the FAA responded with a Part 13 determination that upheld 11 of the complaints at Linden. Throughout this process, Tom has worked with AOPA and remained in contact with elected city officials, airport management, and the local pilot organization, Friends of Linden,” Ginter said.
A pilot since 1984 and AOPA’s Airport Support Network volunteer in Linden since 2009, Madden currently flies a Piper PA–28-161, a Cessna Skymaster, and a Cirrus SR22.