Testimony Before NTSB on Air Show Safety
EAA and aviation scored a big win two weeks ago as EAA Vice President of Advocacy and Safety Sean Elliott and I joined other aviation officials in Washington, D.C., for testimony before the National Transportation Safety Board. Sean and I appeared with representatives of the Reno Air Race Association and Air Boss Inc., which conducts operations at air shows throughout North America. EAA's presentation emphasized the continually enhanced safety measures at Oshkosh each year, as well as the coordinated effort that goes into making AirVenture the safe event it is for pilots and attendees. All three panels that testified impressed the NTSB. Everyone involved in the hearing did a superb job and their coordinated presentations provided a great deal of information to NTSB that it had not been aware of previously.
Other Key D.C. Meetings
The following day, while Sean and I were in Washington, EAA Vice President of Government Relations Doug Macnair joined us for a visit to FAA headquarters. We met the FAA Acting Administrator, Michael Huerta, and discussed key aviation issues with him. We also invited Huerta to Oshkosh for his first visit to AirVenture. He plans on attending this summer to participate in the annual "Meet the Administrator" session. While at FAA, Doug, Sean, and I also met with other top FAA officials to reconnect on important initiatives and follow-up on matters on which EAA has been advocating for our members and the GA community.
User Fees Still in White House Aviation Plan
On January 13, we received word that the Obama administration has responded to the online petition created last year that urged to "Take Aviation User Fees Off the Table." Dana Hyde of the Office of Management and Budget wrote the response, saying that the administration believes a $100 per flight user fee would be equitable. This is an ominous prediction of what the White House may be requesting in future federal budgets, despite continual opposition in Congress from both parties. Our government relations office is already working with members of the GA Caucus in Congress in regards to the possibility of a new user-fee battle.
In Sebring at U.S. Sport Aviation Expo
Last Thursday, I was in Sebring, Florida, with a host of EAA staff participating in the annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, which is the largest light-sport aircraft-only event in the country. That evening, I spoke at the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association dinner, where I had the opportunity to outline some of EAA's future activities and how they will benefit the LSA community, as well as some of the government advocacy programs in which EAA is involved. I also talked with Russ Niles of AVWeb about the same topics, which was posted as a podcast on the AVWeb website.
Aiming for Better Phone Coverage at AirVenture
On Wednesday, EAA Vice President of Information Technology John Carrier hosted a cellular service roundtable with representatives of area cellular providers, including Verizon, Sprint, Cellcom, and Airfire. It was an opportunity to discuss the issue of reliable communications on the EAA grounds and ideas to improve service for all users during the fly-in. This joint session was very unusual, as usually the competing providers do not meet to determine a unified plan to improve service for all.