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EAA Government Advocacy

As we approach the end of 2011, it’s time to review progress on each of EAA’s top advocacy issues for the year, as outlined below. Some major advocacy issues, such as user fees and aviation fuels, emerged during the year to join EAA’s initial list.


AMATEUR-BUILT AND LIGHT-SPORT - The number of experimental category fatal accidents (73) finished higher than FAA’s not-to-exceed figure (70) for fiscal year 2011 (ending September 30). EAA is working with the FAA’s General Aviation Joint Steering Committee to develop ways to reduce the accident rate. All pilots have a responsibility to train and fly safely. Failure to do so only brings more unwanted regulation.

TRANSFORMING GA: FAA'S FIVE-YEAR STRATEGY - EAA is working with the FAA and other GA community leaders to focus on improving GA safety. Transition training and identification of data trends pinpointing the real causes of GA accidents will help. EAA's Manager, Government & Regulatory Affairs David Oord co-chairs the Loss of Control working group.

FAA SAFETY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM - The FAA has proposed that all commercial airports establish a safety management system. The comment period for this notice of proposed rulemaking ended on July 5, but the final rule has not been published yet. EAA is working to ensure that the FAA does not adopt a one size-fits-all approach to airport safety, as conditions and operations differ widely at airports around the country.

GA SECURITY - EAA’s work on the Large Aircraft Security Program helped convince the TSA that a complete rewrite of the proposal was necessary. A revamped GA security proposal is expected in the coming months. EAA also pressed and continues to press TSA to reduce the burden of presidential TFRs on GA operations, especially during the upcoming election cycle.


MEDICAL CERTIFICATE - A Comprehensive proposal to eliminate the need for third-class medical certificates for those flying recreationally was announced in September in a joint EAA/ AOPA effort. The formal exemption request is scheduled to be submitted to the FAA in early 2012. If approved, this exemption could significantly reduce the barriers to participation in aviation for tens of thousands of current and would-be pilots.

NEXTGEN - The FAA’s proposal to upgrade the technology used in the cockpits of all aircraft still causes EAA concerns about timing and expense. Also, the GPS signals that NextGen depends on are threatened by the LightSquared broadband network proposal. EAA is working with industry partners on Capitol Hill to counter that threat to GPS and temper the economic impact of NextGen on GA.

AVIATION FUELS - EAA is part of the Unleaded Avgas Transition aviation rulemaking committee, which includes the world’s leading experts on aviation fuels, engines, and aircraft, along with the FAA and EPA. The goal of this group is to develop a process and strategy for technically evaluating fuels and economically transitioning GA to unleaded fuel at some point in the future. Meanwhile, several environmental groups are pursuing lawsuits demanding immediate halts to avgas sales, which must be countered while work toward a solution continues.

ASTM/CONSENSUS STANDARDS - EAA continues to lead the industry effort to improve consensus standards for light-sport aircraft and develop a detailed manufacturing audit system to ensure safety and compliance.

AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES APPLICABILITY TO EXPERIMENTAL AIRCRAFT - EAA’s position that airworthiness directives do not apply to experimental category aircraft or type-certificated products installed on them (though the owner has a responsibility to ensure that any known safety issues are addressed). EAA submitted comments to the FAA, and the publication of a revised advisory circular is expected soon.


USER FEES - EAA is fighting alongside other aviation groups opposing another proposal for GA user fees. The latest attempt came in the White House’s budget deficit cutting proposal in late summer. With a congressional debt reduction “super committee” assigned to find billions of dollars of budget cuts, EAA, AOPA, and other groups are concerned that user fees could be among the recommendations. EAA and the other groups will continue to aggressively oppose the imposition of user fees.

FAA REAUTHORIZATION - The FAA suffered furloughs and Congress was at a stalemate in late summer before two continuing resolutions were passed to temporarily fund the agency. Congress and the White House are still struggling in attempts to complete a long-term FAA reauthorization.

LIGHTSQUARED GPS INTERFERENCE - EAA, other GA groups, and a myriad of other industry groups are fighting a well-financed, politically connected effort to create a national broadband network whose transmissions could overwhelm today’s GPS signals used for aviation, military operations, emergency responders, law enforcement, and others. Members of the Congressional GA Caucus have been skeptical about LightSquared’s claims of non-interference and easy fixes, and have been working on behalf of GPS users to temper the threat.


EAA is about many things in aviation. Warbirds, homebuilt aircraft, general aviation, vintage aircraft, aerobatics, recreational flying, ultralights, and many other passions of aviation have called EAA home for many years. Perhaps most notable within the heritage and roots of the organization is the homebuilder, and from an advocacy standpoint, your organization invests tremendous resources into preserving freedoms for that segment of our membership.

This month we have provided an overview of the progress made on our top priorities of the past year. It is telling to note that a full 70 percent of our current government advocacy initiatives are either directly tied to or significantly affect the experimental amateur-built world. Every day, your government staff works these issues with the FAA, NTSB, TSA, Congress, and others. EAA is dedicated to preserving those freedoms upon which our founding principles are based.

To me, what is possibly even more significant is the recent initiative of all the GA alphabet organizations to work more closely together. The new mantra “Stronger Together” is enabling all those organizations to focus on their individual areas of expertise and, in the process, bring the rest of the groups along for support. On experimental issues, EAA is clearly the lead organization and is strongly supported by organizations such as AOPA, GAMA, NBAA, NATA, HAI, and NASAO. This unity is a needle-mover on major issues!

Your organization will continue to do its best to preserve and protect our freedoms of aviation, especially when it comes to homebuilding. You have long told us that advocacy is a top priority for you as an EAA member. Make no mistake that with even more substantial challenges ahead, advocacy efforts will be needed more than ever before. Along with our friends in aviation, EAA will continue to lead the charge in protecting the right to experiment with and fly amateur-built aircraft.

EAA continues to work hard on these issues and others of importance to EAA members and other aviators. There is strength in numbers, not only in EAA member participation but also in joining with other aviation groups and important allies such as the general aviation caucuses in the House and Senate.

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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