EAA Government Advocacy
Revamping Part 23
Opening the door for growth and innovation - One of the major initiatives EAA will be a part of this year is the Part 23 Reorganization Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC). This ARC has the potential to change the regulatory environment in a way that would allow for greater innovation and growth. Its recommendations could allow new aircraft to be more affordable and safe—two of EAA’s top priorities.
Part 23 of the Federal Regulations covers the airworthiness standards for general aviation aircraft. Historically, the FAA has hosted regulatory reviews for Part 23 about every 10 years with the last performed in 1984, so we’re a little overdue and the current fleet reflects that. Other than avionics, the Cessna 172 hasn’t changed much in more than 50 years! Pilots seeking innovative and new aircraft have naturally migrated to those segments of aviation where the regulations allow for modernization that can be had more affordably—experimental amateur-built and light-sport aircraft.
Over the past two decades, Part 23 has been shifting in complexity toward more sophisticated, high-performance airplanes, which has placed increased burden on simple airplane certification. One of the ARC’s main tasks will be to reorganize Part 23 into several tiers based on airplane performance and complexity instead of today’s weight and propulsion-based divisions. The first tier will contain requirements for low-complexity, low-performance airplanes and will act as the starting point for all higher categories. “The use of a tier-based approach will allow the FAA to focus more oversight on products in the more complex, higher performance tiers,” said Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of industry and regulatory affairs, who sits on this ARC.
The ARC will submit its final report with recommendations in about a year and a half with regulatory change several years away, making this the beginning of a lengthy process, but the results of which have the potential to grow general aviation.
Big Win: BARR Availability Fully Restored
The aviation organizations (NBAA, AOPA, EAA, and others) scored a victory for the GA community on December 2, 2011, when the FAA announced it was reinstating the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) privileges that allow aircraft owners and operators to “opt out” of having their flight information publicly available over the Internet.
The FAA decision, which reversed restrictions imposed in August 2011, came after Congress passed a bill that included language prohibiting the agency from imposing requirements such as “a valid security concern” on operators to participate in the BARR program. “This is a big win for aviation. We appreciate the efforts of those in Congress who acted to preserve the privacy rights of aviators within the BARR program,” said EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower. “We also applaud the efforts of those within the aviation community who worked together on this important issue, proving that we are truly stronger together.”
Earlier this year, NBAA and AOPA filed a court challenge to the government’s curtailment of the program, and EAA filed a friend of the court brief supporting the suit. In a December hearing, a government attorney conceded that the FAA would no longer defend its policy.
EAA/AOPA Medical Exemption Request Nearly Ready
Would expand use of driver's license medical - At press time, the text of the EAA/AOPA exemption request for relief from third-class medical certificate requirements was nearing completion. The formal request was expected to be filed with the FAA in early January.
The exemption request, which was jointly announced by AOPA President Craig Fuller and EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower at the AOPA Aviation Summit last September, would expand the use of the driver’s license medical requirements in lieu of a third-class medical for those flying recreationally. It is based on the data collected from more than six years of sport pilot experience, which has shown that medical incapacitation has not been a cause of accidents in sport pilot-eligible aircraft.
The request also adds a required online education segment for those wanting to fly under the exemption. That education element would broaden knowledge of medical issues and self-certification guidance.
After submission to the FAA, the next step will be publication of the request and a public comment period. EAA will keep its members well-informed of this next step and how comments can be sent directly to the FAA.
Issues go Directly to FAA at Recreational Aviation Summit
Collaborative sessions with EAA unmatched in GA - There is no greater evidence of EAA’s ability to work toward solutions on behalf of its members than the annual EAA/FAA Recreational Aviation Summit held each winter at the EAA Aviation Center in Oshkosh. More than a dozen top FAA policymakers come to Oshkosh with the single goal of working on issues that directly affect EAA members.
Nearly every segment of EAA membership is affected by these meetings, from aircraft and pilot certification to the amateur-built, vintage, warbird, ultralight/light-sport, and aerobatic segments. “EAA is unique in creating and continuing these working sessions with the FAA. More work is completed during this focused two-day gathering than in a year’s worth of conference calls,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of industry and regulatory affairs.
The agenda for the upcoming meeting is being finalized so the sessions can be as effective and productive as possible, with measurable progress toward solutions.
Combined with the in-person interaction between FAA policymakers and the aviation community at AirVenture each summer, through the Recreational Aviation Summit EAA has created a consistent way to bring issues directly to the FAA offices that administer those policies and a method to track the progress on each of them.
EAA Government Advocacy - A Big Year Ahead
2012 is shaping up to be a busy year for EAA Government Advocacy efforts. Between the initiatives underway within the FAA, as well as the “Stronger Together” relationships that are developing within the industry, it is apparent that the opportunities to reduce barriers in aviation are big this year! Everything from reducing medical barriers to a better set of regulations for manufacturing new airplanes is on the EAA advocacy radar.
First on the list is the EAA/AOPA medical petition that was announced at AOPA’s Aviation Summit this past fall. The actual petition is expected to be submitted to the FAA this month, asking for an exemption to the current third-class medical requirements for recreational flying (see Sport Aviation, November 2011). Much work remains to finalize the petition issues with the agency and keep progress moving ahead. While there is no way to predict how long the process will take, we certainly can count on plenty of interaction to ensure progress.
2012 is also the year of FAA aviation rulemaking committees (ARCs). The ARC process is by far the most collaborative and effective way for industry to help the FAA change, create, or reduce existing regulations/policy. EAA has been asked to participate in no fewer than three ARCs this year: the ongoing ARC researching the issues and potential solutions surrounding 100LL, the ARC charged with rewriting FAR Part 23 for small aircraft certification, and the ARC tasked with reviewing the FAA policy on Warbird Living History exemption operations. Each one of these is very important to the future of general aviation.
Last but not least, EAA is very involved with improving safety. Working within the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GA-JSC), EAA participates and co-leads an industry/FAA group dedicated to improving safety through risk mitigations developed from data analyses. 2012 will see the completion of the first set of safety improvement recommendations developed from the Loss of Control work group. Loss of control continues to be the number one killer of GA pilots. The work will continue all through the year as additional accident causal factors are studied.
Your organization will continue to work hard and represent your interests within each of these opportunities, as well as many others.
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.