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EAA Government Advocacy

GA Safety - Priority No. 1

GA Safety, specifically for recreational flying, is EAA’s top priority. Recently, the NTSB placed GA safety on its “most wanted” list, initiating a program to help prevent accidents and save lives. EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2011 provided a venue for the two organizations to meet and discuss ways to work together to achieve common goals.

NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman and board member Earl F. Weener arrived at AirVenture in a GA airplane piloted by Weener. This marked the first visit to AirVenture for Hersman, while Weener has attended many times.

Shortly after their arrival, Hersman and Weener met with the presidents of EAA, AOPA, NBAA, NATA, GAMA, and HAI and discussed how they could work together to improve GA safety. The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) provides the best channel through which all of the associations’ collective efforts can be funneled. EAA and NTSB participate in the GAJSC, the Safety Analysis Team under it, and the newly formed Loss of Control Working Group.

While walking the flightline, Hersman met Andy Werback, EAA 699040, and had an impromptu conversation about GA safety. Andy recounted his personal experience building a Lancair Legacy, using EAA’s technical counselor program and chapter members’ knowledge to help when he needed it. Andy spoke about his transition training program in which his CFI provided make and model training in another Lancair, flew the first few hours on Andy’s Legacy, and once he felt Andy’s skills and aircraft were sound, gave Andy the green light to finish the phase one test flying of his aircraft. By using proven effective programs and processes, Andy’s build and transition were safe and provided a great example of how the process can and should work.

Chairman Hersman, who was recently confirmed to another two year term, left AirVenture 2011 with a better sense of what makes up GA and what EAA is doing to improve its safety.

Type Clubs Talk Transition Training

Participation is key - Safety studies routinely show that pilots who are actively engaged in type clubs suffer fewer accidents than pilots who are not involved with such clubs. With that knowledge in mind, along with a desire to improve safety among all GA operators, leaders from aircraft type clubs and pilot associations met at AirVenture 2011 to discuss forming a coalition to improve GA safety. One objective of the coalition is to reach pilots who are not yet members of an organization familiar with their aircraft and get them the information they need to fly in a safe, effective manner. At the meeting, attendees discussed a “push” strategy to reach those pilots: When a pilot registers his or her aircraft, the coalition would send the registrant type-specific safety information, including how to obtain transition training.

Familiarity Breeds Safety

For many type-certificated GA aircraft, training can be found easily at a local FBO. For experimental amateur-built, warbird, and some specific makes and models of GA aircraft, however, that training can be difficult to obtain. This coalition will leverage its knowledge and resources to better prepare GA pilots for flight risks associated with known accident “hot spots.” Risk will be reduced through focused training, outreach, and cultural change.

If you or someone you know is thinking about purchasing an aircraft in which they have little or no experience, encourage them to seek out a type club or owners group that has specific make and model transition training.

Administrator Understands Importance of AirVenture

Shortly before AirVenture’s opening day, it didn’t look promising for the annual “Meet the Administrator” session. Congress had not passed a continuing resolution to fund key parts of the FAA, which led to furloughs of 4,000 FAA employees and the idling of thousands of workers on airport projects. Administrator Randy Babbitt had to severely cut back the FAA’s presence at Oshkosh, the agency’s best event to meet aviators and key constituencies to get things done.

The administrator eventually made his case about the importance of FAA’s top leadership being here. The resulting one-day trip preserved the annual administrator’s forum and visits by FAA’s top leadership staff.

“This is where the FAA becomes personified to many of you—not a Web link or a button on a phone, but real people working with real aviators,” Babbitt said during his forum.

In early August, Congress approved a continuing resolution, allowing FAA personnel and contractors to return to work. This resolution is set to expire on September 16, 2011, and EAA continues to urge Congress to finalize the FAA reauthorization bill that would prevent the necessity of continuing resolutions or furloughs in the near future.

Stronger Together

There is little doubt that aviation, as a whole, is facing troubled times. Everything from the future of piston engine fuels to the political implications from the current federal administration that GA is a community of “fat cats” who should “pay more for what we do” is harming aviation. It does not matter if you are a U.S. company that firmly believes in the value of a corporate aircraft or a private U.S. citizen who is passionately pursuing your dreams, GA is under fire from a multitude of sources.

There is a silver lining in this storm cloud. Aviation is seeing a gathering of forces unlike anything most of us have ever seen in this industry. Nothing brings people together like adversity, and it is becoming apparent that the alphabet groups—EAA, AOPA, GAMA, NBAA, NATA, NASAO, HAI, and others—are stronger together. The CEOs of the associations now communicate with each other on a regular basis. During AirVenture 2011, a CEO panel was held, and each organization’s leader talked about the various “hot spots” in aviation and how they are being combated with joint efforts amongst the associations. More often than not, you now see efforts with multiple aviation associations joining together and supporting one another.

This is especially good news in the world of aviation advocacy. The efforts of organizations such as AOPA and EAA to strategically align and, in many cases, combine our efforts will bring strength and capability to aviation that was unheard of in the past. Significant joint projects are underway, with more to be revealed later this year that will “move the needle” in aviation.

Nobody wants aviation to endure these difficult times. I can say with certainty that all the above-mentioned organizations, and others, want to make certain that aviation weathers the storm and finds prosperous, fertile ground for growth once again. I know that the aviation community and its respective associations shall emerge into good times stronger.

Government Relations Briefings

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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