EAA Government Advocacy
Spreading the Truth on Accidents
EAA’s Government Advocacy Focuses not only on issue-by-issue efforts but also on building a factual base of information for policymakers to make decisions. One area that continually is on the priority list is setting the record straight on homebuilt accident figures.
A common misconception is that the amateur-built aircraft accident rate is rising when quite the opposite is true. Over the past 15 years, the amateur-built fleet has doubled in size in the United States, while the total number of accidents has stayed essentially the same. That reflects a much safer flying community than in the mid-1990s and an area of improvement of which all builders and amateur-built pilots can be proud.
Still, incorrect perceptions remain—a situation that’s most worrisome when seen among those within the aviation community, both government and non-government. That’s where EAA’s government advocacy efforts are most essential. That’s not always easy, given the sometimes-mobile nature of staff within agencies. Tremendous time and effort can be spent to create knowledge and understanding within a certain office, only to have retirements, transfers, and other departures bring in a new group that requires that education be started again. To support EAA members and homebuilders, however, those efforts are absolutely critical.
In recent months, EAA government advocacy efforts have been raised to new levels, focusing on direct participation with federal agencies and policymakers. Just a few of those connections include:
- The amateur-built survey in conjunction with the NTSB.
This joint online survey administered by EAA drew more than 5,000 responses—a great response from a community with about 33,000 aircraft. The goal is to create a solid base of information that has been lacking in the past. As Mac McClellan pointed out in his EAA online blog in September, current pilot surveys off er no more than an educated guess.
By establishing a solid information base, the entire homebuilding community can pinpoint where builder and pilot education might be the most effective. Are there particular times in training where there is the highest risk? What types of aircraft, specifically homebuilt aircraft, require additional training for their pilots? What do builders need to know that they do not know right now?
This survey also indicates an opening toward a more collaborative effort with NTSB, focused on education instead of regulation. NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman’s visit to Oshkosh this summer was enlightening to the agency and another good building block.
- Participation on FAA’s General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC).
EAA is a leading member of this committee, the Safety Analysis Team operating under it, and a co-chair of its first working group that is tasked with studying fatal loss-of-control, approach, and landing accidents. The GAJSC offers significant policy input on programs to enhance the safety record of general aviation, including sub-segments such as amateur-built, lightsport, warbirds, and more. Involvement on this committee will help intercept unnecessary and burdensome regulations on homebuilt aircraft based on inaccurate data.
- EAA AirVenture.
While most aviators see the annual pilgrimage to Oshkosh as one of the great aviation pleasures, it’s much more than that in advocacy terms. Again this year, FAA’s senior staff was on-site to see the amateur-built community in person and learn firsthand what progress is being made. It is an eye-opening experience for some and a reinforcement of the desire for safety to others.
EAA advocacy staff also works with lawmakers and their staff s, state officials, other GA groups, and anyone with an interest in amateur-built aircraft. We emphasize that the amateur-built accident rate is not nearly as bad as some may perceive, and that it’s improving even more.
There are still things that each person involved in amateur-built construction and flying can do, though, to keep those misconceptions from springing up again. Sean Elliott writes about some of them this month in these pages. It also involves the highest levels of responsibility that allows us to enjoy our unique freedoms in the air.
Rulemaking Committee Formed to Overhaul GA Aircraft Certification Regulations
The FAA has formed an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) that is charged with creating a progressive, tier-based system of aircraft certification regulations. The ARC will look at reorganizing Part 23 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.
Part 23 contains the airworthiness standards for airplanes in the normal, utility, and aerobatic categories with a maximum takeoff weight less than or equal to 12,500 pounds, which includes most GA airplanes.
EAA is hopeful that the reorganization will spur innovation and development in the lighter end of the GA aircraft spectrum and result in safer and more affordable aircraft.
FAA Publishes Key Sport Pilot Instruction Petition
Earlier this year, EAA, AOPA, GAMA, and NAFI filed a petition for rulemaking with the FAA that would allow sport pilot instruction hours to count toward higher certificates and ratings. That petition has now been officially published, and EAA members, instructors, other aviators, and the public are invited to comment on it and make their collective voices heard.
The current sport pilot regulations do not allow instruction hours given by a flight instructor with a sport pilot rating (CFI-S) to count toward additional ratings or certificates, thus forcing pilots to repeat those hours if they choose to work toward a private pilot or higher certificate.
Visit www.SportAviation.org for more information about how to comment.
Recurrent Training - Breaking the Chain
Every time I read an accident report I think, “What could that aviator have done to break the chain of events that led to his or her fatal accident?” We have all experienced the phenomenon of stopping something bad before it happens. Heck, even superstitions have risen with messaging such as “Bad things happen in threes.” So why is it that we human beings can’t consistently see a bad ending before it occurs and often get caught in the press on regardless” mindset with the ending being an accident? To a large degree, the answer is clearly within the fact that we are, after all, human beings.
So what can each and every one of us do about it? We have to recognize what are the most impactful modifiers to our behavior and try to incorporate such things on a regular basis. Within aviation, it is pretty evident that recurrent training, when done with a well outlined lesson plan and a quality instructor, is perhaps the most impactful needle-mover to improve our safety record.
Recurrent training is the king of safe flying in my book. I have been a CFI/CFII/MEI for more than 20 years, and I love participating in recurrent training every year. There is something special about that training environment that reminds us how to operate as safely as possible. I personally go through at least four different annual recurrent training events for the different types of aircraft that I fly. Each one gives me a refreshed perspective that carries over to everything that I fly and all the types of flying that I do. Every aviator can benefit from participating in recurrent training.
One more bit of food for thought—recurrent training is not something that only needs to be accomplished per the FAR prescribed intervals. I know many aviators (including myself ) who participate in recurrent training every six months. Find an interval that works for the kind of flying you do and sign up. It is fun, it is good for you, and above all else, it is good for aviation!
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.