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AOPA Action: ‘Undue burden,’ AOPA saysAOPA Action: ‘Undue burden,’ AOPA says

Pilot records database proposal goes too far

AOPA has raised concerns over the FAA’s proposal of an electronic database intended to replace the longstanding Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) for air carriers and to verify certification, training, and currency of professional pilots.

AOPA and other aviation organizations believe that the Pilot Records Database (PRD) described in a notice of proposed rulemaking will place an undue burden on many individual pilots. Although pilot record databases like PRIA have been around since the 1990s, it was the Colgan Air crash in 2009 that prompted the FAA to make changes in its training requirements and pilot recordkeeping.

The PRD is intended to facilitate sharing records surrounding a pilot’s qualifications before an air carrier decides to hire that pilot. The database includes information about medical certificates, employment history, flying records, and types of aircraft pilots are qualified to fly. However, it contains many burdensome requirements for Part 91 operators—something with which AOPA takes issue.

Chief among AOPA’s complaints is that the PRD proposal expands beyond what is statutorily required, does not accept industry recommendations, and does not provide a clear process for pilots to correct errors on their record.

Additionally, thousands of small, sole-practitioner operations under Part 91 (e.g., small corporate and air tour operators) would be subjected to costly and burdensome regulations, setting a bad precedent for interpreting the PRD to apply to a broader group of small operations. According to AOPA’s comments, “The result would [be] unnecessary self-reporting to the PRD. Similarly, having PRD reporting for other Part 91 operations, such as aerial advertising and photographers, pipeline patrol, glider operations, banner towers, agriculture operations, and acrobatic teams, should not be included due to their size and type of operation and not being mandated by the PRD Act.”

Insurance rates concern GA leaders

Let’s avoid ‘insurance shock,’ Baker says

“Not a day goes by that I don’t get a call” about insurance rates, said AOPA President Mark Baker. Baker and general aviation industry leaders voiced concerns about rising insurance premiums during a recent industrywide webinar.

Baker said he is concerned about the rising cost of aviation insurance because the GA industry is experiencing “the start of an aviation boom right now, and our financing reps have never been busier.” He said he wants to keep the communication lines open with insurance companies to learn more about their challenges and to help avoid “insurance shock” for pilots considering more capable aircraft—or simply getting older.

Baker also advocated for clarity within the insurance industry to avoid putting a damper on the enthusiasm that GA currently is experiencing. “Business out there is terrific. It’s exciting. Dealers are busy, shops are busy, and things are really going well right now,” he said.

Technical advances in accurate weather depiction, terrain avoidance, and devices that provide additional situational awareness for pilots have led to increased safety and lower GA fatal accident rates. “We need to keep GA on track, we need to create some transparency, and pull together” for common goals, Baker said.

Citation Jet Pilots Association CEO Andrew Broom, a former AOPA communications vice president, echoed Baker’s concern. “Like Mark said, I don’t think a day goes by without someone talking about insurance. On our end it’s the single-pilot jet pilot” calling with questions about aging and rising insurance rates affecting the operation of turbine-powered aircraft.

Baker encouraged aircraft owners to keep their insurance policies intact, avoid moving to other carriers to save a few bucks in the short term, and continue their training. “Work with your insurance broker to discuss your safety protocols. Don’t jump around. This is not the time to try and save five or 10 percent” on an insurance policy. He reminded pilots that “safety is paramount” and can “ultimately drive down insurance rates.”

The complete webinar with insight from other aviation industry leaders is available online.

Hoover Awards canceled

AOPA canceled the 2020 R.A. “Bob” Hoover Awards because of the coronavirus pandemic. The awards ceremony was originally set to take place on March 18 in Washington, D.C., and was rescheduled for October 6 in conjunction with the National Business Aviation Association’s annual Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Orlando, which has also been affected by the pandemic.

“The health and welfare of our staff and event attendees remain a priority,” AOPA said. “We continue to monitor the ongoing situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and decisions regarding AOPA events will always be communicated as soon as a decision is made. We look forward to being together again soon to recognize and celebrate the contributions of many notable leaders throughout general aviation.”

The 2021 Hoover Awards date will be announced later this year. The 2020 R.A. “Bob” Hoover Awards ceremony would have been the fifth annual event and was scheduled to honor Burt Rutan during a reception at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport’s historic Terminal A.

The Hoover Trophy honors aviators whose airmanship, leadership, mentorship, and passion for aviation inspire a love of flight in countless others. Hoover won the first trophy himself in 2016, and AOPA has carried on his memory through the prestigious annual award each year. Other honorees are Sean D. Tucker, Harrison Ford, and Clay Lacy.

In addition to the Hoover Trophy, AOPA was scheduled to present the Joseph B. “Doc” Hartranft Award, the Laurence P. Sharples Perpetual Award, the General Aviation Safety Award, and the inaugural Brigadier General Charles E. McGee Aviation Inspiration Award.

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