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EAA Government Advocacy

All Politics Are Local

The FAA Reauthorization bills currently being drafted in both the House of Representatives and Senate will, once approved, authorize the FAA’s revenue collection and activities over the next several years.

Legislative initiatives as large and seemingly impersonal as the reauthorization bill represent significant efforts. Ultimately, these initiatives have a direct effect on you, your flying freedoms, and the aviation community. EAA is currently working on many issues within the proposed FAA reauthorization bill.

Vintage Aircraft Data Release—
One provision would require the FAA to retain data for early vintage aircraft and release that data to the public when the type certificate is no longer being supported. This will help vintage aircraft owners and restorers to maintain, repair, and restore their aircraft. EAA has been working closely with the FAA and Congress on this language for years.

Through-the-Fence Agreements (TTF)—
A proposed revision to TTF regulations, partially drafted by EAA, would allow residential (non-commercial) through-the-fence operations at the discretion of the local airport sponsor (rather than at a national level) without compromising the ability of the airport to receive federal funds. Residents would be required to maintain the access at their expense and pay the going rate for similar on-airport access.

Unleaded Aviation Fuel Research Program—
EAA is helping Congress develop language that would raise the priority of the unleaded avgas research program at the FAA. This program supports all EAA members, regardless of aircraft or engine type, by ensuring a viable and sustainable supply of aviation fuel well into the future.

Volunteer Pilot Liability Protection—
An EAA-supported amendment in the Senate version of the bill would provide personal liability protection for pilots conducting medical airlift and similar flights, affording protection to members who extend their talents and resources for the betterment of society.

These initiatives have a direct impact on individual EAA members and large segments of the aviation community. EAA’s presence in Washington, D.C., monitors and promotes issues such as these that have significant local/individual impact.

GA Airports Funded; User Fees Absent - Obama budget released

User fees are not included. EAA applauds Representatives Tom Petri (R-WI) and Jerry Costello (D-IL) for sending a letter to President Obama on January 21, 2011, opposing user fees. That bipartisan letter was signed by 116 House of Representatives members. Instead, the Administration will rely on fuel excise taxes as a funding source.

Despite deep cuts in airport improvement program (AIP) funding (down from $3.5 billion to $2.4 billion), GA airports remain funded at current levels. EAA is pleased that the Administration recognizes that GA airports have no way other than AIP funding to obtain money for critical infrastructure improvements. Large and medium commercial hub airports can raise such funding through passenger facility charges, which they will be allowed to increase per the proposed budget.

NextGen modernization is a major emphasis in this budget, with $1.24 billion marked to improve the air traffic control system, up $370 million from the FY 2011 budget. NextGen represents the transition from a ground-based to a satellite-based air traffic control system.

Not included in the proposed budget are guaranteed low-interest loans or other innovative financing options to make it financially easier for GA aircraft owners to adopt NextGen technology. EAA, AOPA, and other GA groups have advocated that GA owners need financial assistance akin to that proposed for airlines. The budget proposes a National Infrastructure Bank that guarantees private loans to airlines to equip aircraft with NextGen equipment.

The Administration’s budget request is step one in the FAA budget appropriation process for the coming year.

Foster and Promote GA

Prior to the mid-1990s, the FAA’s charter had a dual mandate—to foster and promote general aviation while continuing to improve its safety record. An eloquent quote in the Federal Register, April 4, 1997, stated: “General aviation plays a crucial role in flight training for all segments of aviation and provides unique personal and recreational opportunities. It makes vital contributions to activities ranging from business aviation, to agricultural operations, to warbird preservation, to glider and balloon flights. Accordingly, it is the policy of the FAA to foster and promote general aviation while continuing to improve its safety record. These goals are neither contradictory nor separable. They are best achieved by cooperating with the aviation community to define mutual concerns and joint efforts to accomplish objectives.”

Then, following the ValuJet 592 accident, and a subsequent perceived lack of oversight of the airlines by the FAA, Congress eliminated the FAA’s dual mandate and focused its charter solely on safety.

So whose role is it to foster and promote GA? It’s all of ours—associations, pilots, and the aviation community must promote GA in the FAA’s absence. Every time we fly, and through every AirVenture, EAA chapter meeting, pancake breakfast, or new certificate/rating earned, we are promoting GA. With the current budgetary and political environment, GA has never needed promotion more.

In the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, the GA Caucus promotes GA and its importance to our nation’s economy and transportation system. GA contributes more than $150 billion to the U.S. economy annually, and it employs nearly 1.3 million workers. It is one of the few remaining U.S. industries that maintains a positive foreign trade balance.

With the swearing in of the 112th U.S. Congress, the House GA Caucus must be re-established. It is the goal of the House caucus co-chairmen Sam Graves (R-MO) and John Barrow (D-GA), to ensure that the caucus has a large membership to bring its collective weight to bear on important issues facing the GA community.

If your representatives are not members of the GA Caucus, contact them and urge them to join.

Sport Pilot Instruction Should Count

EAA, along with AOPA, GAMA, and NAFI, submitted a petition to permit the instruction time received in pursuit of a sport pilot certificate to be credited toward the instruction requirements of additional certificates and ratings. This is an important step in building the sport pilot community.

Currently, dual instruction given by a flight instructor with a sport pilot certificate (CFI-S) cannot be credited toward future certificates. This is in direct contradiction to the stated intention of the sport pilot regulations and discredits all flight experience received through instruction by a CFI-S.

Read more about out what else is happening in the world of EAA's government relations.

EAA's Government Relations department works to preserve the freedom of flight and reduce the regulatory barriers affecting affordability and access to EAA members’ participation in aviation. Protecting the freedom to fly is the foundation on which all of the organization’s advocacy initiatives are built. EAA fights to preserve this freedom by providing clear solutions and practical alternatives backed by hard work and dedication. EAA’s 55-year history of success is a testament to that philosophy.

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