AOPA President Mark Baker took advantage of his invitation to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives to thank members of the House Subcommittee on Aviation for their contributions to the five-year FAA reauthorization enacted in 2018. Baker thanked the aviation-minded members for their bipartisan support of general aviation and encouraged lawmakers to continue building on legislative successes.
The FAA reauthorization has provided much-needed infrastructure investment, stability, and job creation opportunities, Baker said, while excluding disruptive measures such as air traffic control privatization.
Baker gave particular thanks to Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, for his leadership in getting many provisions into the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 that will benefit GA. Baker noted that AOPA has long advocated for clarification of rules regarding hangar use that reflect the realities of building, maintaining, and flying GA aircraft, while extending aircraft registration duration from three years to seven would reduce federal workload and the cost of ownership.
Baker also told lawmakers that AOPA supports the Aviation Funding Stability Act of 2019 (H.R.1108), introduced in the House by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.). The bill would insulate the FAA from negative impacts of future government shutdowns.
Baker encouraged committee members to work with Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a stalwart GA proponent in the Senate, and others to establish a National Center for the Advancement of Aviation. Standing up such a center will facilitate cooperation, collaboration, and coordination across civil, commercial, and military aviation sectors and government agencies to help advance workforce issues, safety and economic data analysis, and other efforts to help ensure the nation maintains its leadership in aviation.
Pilots don’t always respond to VFR traffic advisories, but that doesn’t mean we’re not looking, and grateful. That’s part of the message conveyed by AOPA staff, air traffic controllers, and others who participated in a video production collaboration that produced a series of six short videos in a series titled “Let Us Know,” created to help raise awareness among air traffic control staff and pilots about the value of collaboration. The videos study traffic advisories, safety alerts, responding back, flight following, and technology in the cockpit (the sixth is a commentary by Jason Schappert of MzeroA on traffic advisories).
BAKER ON THE NEWS
“AOPA has taken a leadership role in developing our future aviation workforce through programs such as the AOPA High School Initiative. By providing high-quality STEM-based aviation education to high school students nationwide, AOPA is opening the door to aviation careers for thousands of teens.” —AOPA President Mark BakerThis collaboration between the FAA, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, and AOPA was driven by the fact that increasing the volume of traffic advisories remains a priority for the FAA Air Traffic Organization. AOPA routinely hears from members who believe flight following services could have been provided more effectively. ATC personnel do not always provide flight following on request, and there can be good reasons that boil down to a controller’s workload at that moment, particularly in busy airspace.
While the FAA encourages controllers to provide flight following when workload permits, some pilots and controllers alike may share a perception that it’s more of an afterthought, and not important enough to spend the time and make the effort amid other priorities. There’s anecdotal evidence that some controllers feel that VFR pilots don’t want to be bothered.
AOPA Air Safety Institute Executive Director Richard McSpadden said the point of the videos is well-taken and encouraged VFR pilots to request flight following routinely. “Safety never suffers from an extra pair of eyes,” he said.