EAA Government Advocacy
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.
- EAA, Warbirds of America Rally Quickly on Warbirds Issue
- Advocating for Young Eagles Fuel Exemption
- NTSB Conference Studies GA Safety
- The Final Word: Advocacy in Action
EAA's advocacy efforts are focused not only on major year-long issues, such as user fees, medical certification, and GA security, but also on issues that may suddenly fl are up where immediate, unified efforts are essential. One such case occurred in late April, when swift action by members of EAA and Warbirds of America, plus other aviation groups, made a difference in reversing a threat to warbird aircraft through a possible amendment to the House National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4310).
EAA's relationships in Washington enabled the organization to discover an early threat to warbird aircraft through a proposed amendment to a House bill. It would bar the Department of Defense from lending or gifting any U.S. military aircraft or parts to any entity except those that would put the aircraft only on static display, such as in a museum. After reporting the news, thousands of EAA members and aviators contacted their congressional representatives in opposition to the proposal.
While EAA members were expressing their views to their elected officials, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri), a longtime EAA and Warbirds of America member, reached out to House colleagues regarding the potentially devastating effect the amendment could have on U.S. warbird operations. The House General Aviation Caucus and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee were also valuable in conveying key information regarding warbirds and the proposed amendment in support of the public response.
EAA and Warbirds of America worked with a consortium of aviation groups that rapidly assembled to meet the threat, including the Commemorative Air Force, Classic Jet Aircraft Association, Collings Foundation, and other warbird groups. This working relationship showed the "Stronger Together" philosophy works on all levels of aviation advocacy.
Some of the comments that came to EAA after the group's fast action included: "Nice job, EAA ... as well as everyone who took time to write," "Thankfully EAA and Warbirds of America were on the watch," and "This is a first for me. The first time I made a difference by voicing my opinion."
While the GA community received commitments that the amendment would not be introduced on this occasion, EAA and Warbirds of America will continue to be vigilant to ensure that threats to flying do not go unnoticed as legislation is created.
EAA has asked the FAA for an exemption from pilot reimbursement restrictions when Young Eagles pilots receive free fuel while flying youth in the popular aviation education program.
Without the exemption (FAA-2012-0442), pilots would not be able to accept free fuel during Young Eagles free flight experiences, because it would be considered reimbursement that is contrary to operations by private, recreational, or sport pilot certificate holders, or in the operation of experimental aircraft.
The exemption request also includes pilots who would fl y adults within EAA's new Eagle Flights program, which is scheduled to launch this summer.
EAA's Young Eagles program is the largest youth aviation education program in history, having fl own more than 1.6 million young people at no charge since 1992. More than 43,000 pilots have volunteered to fl y young people in the program, which has inspired thousands of youth to explore and pursue aviation-related careers.
EAA and the Vintage Aircraft Association have been invited to be among the key groups participating in this month's "General Aviation Safety: Climbing to the Next Level" conference at NTSB headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The conference on June 19-20 will look at the key safety issues affecting all levels of GA and some of the major factors behind them. EAA has already worked with the NTSB on several GA safety initiatives over the past year, expanding the relationship between the two organizations based on the shared goal of enhancing aviation safety.
The conference also marks another step in the NTSB's engagement of the GA community to work together on safety issues. NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman and board member Earl Weener visited EAA AirVenture in 2011, and Hersman plans to attend again in 2012 to talk directly with aviators. Hersman has lauded EAA in the past for its efforts on safety and educating aviators to be more aware of safety issues and accident causes.
The Final Word - Sean Elliott, EAA Vice President of Advocacy and Safety
Advocacy in Action
Recently, a significant threat arose regarding warbird aircraft and the ability for private owners to fl y military hardware in the future. The essence of the proposed amendment would have restricted the Department of Defense from lending or gifting any U.S. military aircraft or parts to any entity except those that would put the aircraft on static display, such as in a museum. The implication behind this amendment was that civilians are not capable of operating and maintaining today's military machines to a safe standard and thus unable to "keep 'em flying." EAA simply does not agree with such a blanket approach and restriction.
Who can say that technology and our own abilities will never allow us to safely operate a certain level of equipment? What about the current inventory of military aircraft that are great candidates for future heritage operations and private ownership? Could you not see a T-6 Texan II being a great warbird in private hands in a decade or two? The United States has a very special aviation community, and preserving and remembering our past is vital to our future.
EAA, Warbirds of America, the Commemorative Air Force, and the rest of the warbird community reacted swiftly and effectively in voicing concern over the precedent this amendment would set. Our collective membership voices were heard, and the amendment was dropped. This situation is a prime example of why it is important to make your voice heard and for all of us in aviation to work together in solving issues. "Stronger Together" once again has proven itself to be the best path forward.
On a separate note, the NTSB has announced a new GA safety conference to be held on June 19-20. The NTSB is taking this next step in engaging the GA community and working together to improve safety. Doug Macnair and I will represent EAA; I would highly encourage you to attend the conference in person or remotely via webcast. The forum is open to the public and will be webcast live at www.NTSB.gov.
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 history of success is a testament to that philosophy.