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Special Edition - January 8, 2002

This special edition of EAA e-HOT LINE provides EAA members with a chronological compilation of EAA news articles regarding the January 5 airplane crash into a downtown Tampa, Florida, office building. Visit the EAA website at www.eaa.org for the latest updates.

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Considering Security Needs for GA
Updated 01/08/02  - Saturday’s tragic occurrence in Tampa, Florida, has had a profound impact on general aviation and public perception of the general aviation community. As a result, EAA has been actively engaged with news media and federal agencies in attempts to minimize the risk of new burdensome regulations, while advocating basic security procedures designed to ensure public safety and confidence in general aviation.

Since September 11, EAA and other aviation organizations have submitted a number of proposals to the FAA and the Transportation Security Administration designed to increase the security of GA operations, particularly at flight schools, while imposing minimal additional restrictions or costs. In general, these recommendations have been based on methods of securing unattended aircraft; controlling access to aircraft keys; and conducting a higher level of vigilance and supervision over people at airports. The importance and validity of these recommendations have never been more important.

Paramount to GA’s future is how the federal government reacts to this high-profile incident, particularly at a time when national security and public sensitivity to aviation are at all-time highs. With the cooperative efforts of EAA, FAA and other aviation organizations, initial response from the federal government appears to be measured and responsive to the specific issues raised in the Tampa incident.

At the time of this writing, FAA was finalizing a notice to be distributed to all flight schools and fixed-base operators (FBOs) outlining several suggested procedures for improving security regarding access to parked aircraft, control of ignition keys, instructor oversight and supervision of students, and methods for locking aircraft to prevent unauthorized use. While these are intended to be voluntary procedures, EAA and the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) strongly urge flight schools as well as individual aircraft owners to assess their roles in preventing future unauthorized use of a GA aircraft and to implement security procedures that make the most sense for their particular circumstances. (EAA will post the full text of the FAA Notice to flight schools at http://www.eaa.org as soon as it is approved and published by FAA.)

EAA and other aviation organizations are expending every possible resource to ensure that the tragic events of the last few months do not have a substantial negative impact on GA’s future and the freedom of flight in this country and around the world. To accomplish this, we must encourage all pilots to take an active role in the security of their aircraft and airports.

EAA, NAFI go Nationwide With Media in Aftermath of Tampa
Updated 01/08/02 - Representatives of EAA and NAFI spent much of Sunday and Monday working with local and national media, providing crucial background and perspective into the suicide flight by a 15-year-old Tampa, Florida, boy on Jan. 5. The incident raised a number of questions for the media, including airport security, aircraft access, flight training issues and more.

On the national level, EAA immediately responded to the Jan. 7 USA Today editorial regarding a perceived threat of small airplanes with a letter to the editor. In addition, EAA and NAFI officials talked with reporters in Chicago, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando and other cities who were doing follow-up stories on flight training and airport security issues. Throughout those interviews, a key point was that the Tampa incident was a case of a troubled young man who chose to take his life, rather than a terrorist plot or breach of airport security.

EAA also assisted national media who wished to speak with flight instructors and other people within the aviation community. MSNBC, for instance, used EAA’s resources to set up interviews with flight instructors.

On the local level, EAA representatives worked with Wisconsin media doing local angles to the story. EAA President Tom Poberezny and EAA Aviation Foundation Executive Vice President Greg Anderson each were featured on camera, discussing general aviation issues. EAA also used its extensive network of contacts within the aviation community to bring together media and aviation representatives.

EAA and NAFI will continue to work with media throughout the country on this and all general aviation issues. We urge EAA and NAFI members to also become part of the dialogue by contacting local media outlets and express opinions regarding reports that may be inaccurate or, conversely, compliment stories that show factual and positive attributes of general aviation. 

EAA Addressing Tampa Crash Aftermath
Updated 01/07/02 - EAA and its affiliate organization the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) have initiated numerous media contacts and responded to others stemming from the January 5 airplane crash into a downtown Tampa, Florida, building. EAA representatives have given several interviews with national media, including many in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Orlando area regarding flight training and security issues. EAA continues to maintain contact with the FAA regarding reaction to this accident.
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Message to EAA Members and Aviation Enthusiasts Regarding Jan. 5 Incident in Tampa
Updated 01/06/02 - On Saturday, January 5, a 15-year-old took a Cessna 172 without permission from the St. Petersburg-Clearwater (Florida) Airport and subsequently flew the aircraft into the side of the Bank of America building in downtown Tampa.  The teenager had been washing aircraft and doing other odd jobs to offset the costs of flight instruction.  Because of his age, he was not yet old enough to obtain a student pilot's license but had received instruction from an FBO on the field.  (FAR 61.83 requires a student pilot of a powered aircraft to be at least 16 years of age.)
(read more)

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