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ChapterGram: May 2013

EAA Legal Advisory Council a Great Resource for Chapters


By Jonathan Harger

The EAA Chapters office staff at headquarters prides itself on its comprehensive ability to advise on common legal, insurance, and tax issues that chapters face in everyday operation. However, sometimes chapters or chapter members might have a unique or particularly complex question that warrants consulting a different kind of professional. For these situations, EAA Chapters and members are encouraged to consult EAA's Legal Advisory Council (LAC). The council is comprised of 11 EAA members, all aviation/aerospace attorneys, who exemplify the "members helping members" ethic of EAA volunteering.

The council, founded almost 30 years ago by EAA board member and active council member Jack Harrington, has two primary missions. The first is advising EAA as an organization - helping staff navigate legal hurdles, participating in government advocacy efforts, serving as hosts for visiting government officials, and preparing presentations, briefs, and testimony for government agencies.

The second mission is assisting fellow members with legal questions that cannot be answered by EAA staff. The council can provide answers to common questions or point our members in the right direction when legal questions arise. As part of this mission, the LAC regularly presents forums at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh on the FAA enforcement process and aircraft purchase/sales transactions.

"You really can't predict the questions that our members are going to ask us," said LAC Chairman Alan Farkas. "Several begin with 'I just got a letter from the FAA...' but we also deal with airport zoning, encroachment and leasing issues, liability waivers related to aircraft sales, and helping members fill out Aviation Safety Reporting System [ASRS or NASA] reports."

EAA Chapters and members in need of legal direction are encouraged to contact the EAA government advocacy and safety department at 920-426-6522 or govt@eaa.org. The advocacy and safety staff can connect members in need with the most appropriate attorney for their particular case.

No case is too bizarre, Farkas said. "We once settled a dispute over who got to keep the chapter's oversized pancake breakfast griddle when the member who welded it moved away."

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