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.
- NTSB Recommendations Aimed at Amateur-Built Aircraft
- The Final Word: New Regulations on the Horizon?
On May 22, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made 16 recommendations to improve homebuilt aircraft safety, some of which raise concerns about possible new regulations impeding the freedom to design, build, and fly one's own aircraft.
The NTSB made its recommendations at a full board meeting in Washington, D.C., following a briefing by agency staff on an extensive safety study of homebuilt aircraft that began in 2011. EAA assisted NTSB with an initial survey by encouraging involvement of EAA members, in an effort to establish an accurate, comprehensive database of the homebuilt community. More than 5,000 EAA members participated in that survey.
The 16 NTSB recommendations focused on flight-testing procedures and plans, development of operational limitations and flight manuals, transition training, expanding availability of transition training, and use of electronic data to develop flight-test plans and operations manuals.
"One of the most important findings of this study is the number of seasoned and experienced pilots getting into accidents so early in the life of structurally sound airplanes," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said. "The recommendations we issue today can improve safety while encouraging the continued growth of this innovative and vibrant segment of the aviation community."
Hersman and other board members specifically complimented EAA and its programs for helping to make the amateur-built aircraft community a safer place. They recommended four areas where EAA can expand its programs and play a leading role in enhancing safety:
- Identify and apply incentives to encourage owners, builders, and pilots of experimental amateur-built aircraft (E-AB) to complete training, such as that available in EAA's Test Flying and Developing Pilot Operating Handbook, prior to conducting flight tests of E-AB.
- Work with our membership, aircraft kit manufacturers, and avionics manufacturers to develop standards for the recording of data in electronic flight displays, engine instruments, or other recording devices in support of flight tests or continued airworthiness of E-AB.
Create and publish a repository of voluntarily provided information regarding holders of Letters of Deviation Authority to conduct flight instruction in E-AB.
- Complete planned action to create a coalition of kit manufacturers, type clubs, and pilot and owner groups to a) develop transition-training resources, and b) identify and apply incentives to encourage builders of E-AB and purchasers of used E-AB to complete the training that is developed.
"We appreciate the Board's unanimous acknowledgement that the amateur-built aircraft community is an important element in the growth and innovation of all of aviation," EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower said. "Several of the recommendations the NTSB forwarded to EAA have already been completed or are in process. We do have concerns, though, that some of the recommendations could add new barriers and burdens for those seeking to participate in building and flying their own aircraft."
EAA and its Homebuilt Aircraft Council will continue to study the recommendations for what effects they may have on the design, building, and certification of amateur-built aircraft. The Council will actively work with the FAA to ensure the continued freedom to participate in the amateur-built aircraft community.
The Final Word - Sean Elliott, EAA Vice President of Advocacy and Safety
New Regulations on the Horizon?
As you probably have read, the NTSB has released a series of recommendations aimed at improving the safety record of E-AB aircraft operations. There are 12 recommendations for the FAA and four for EAA. They address the statistical "hot spots" within the accident data and were derived from the NTSB's analysis of the survey that was conducted over the past 18 months.
What all EAA members need to recognize and pay close attention to is the "paradigm shift" implications within the homebuilt movement if some of these recommendations were converted straight into regulations/FARs by the FAA.
Our community has thrived on personal freedoms in aviation that are unique worldwide. We, the homebuilt community, need to walk this road very carefully and ensure the right balance is struck between safety and our culture within E-AB.
So what is EAA doing about this? First and foremost, we have engaged many of our experts to review and assess the recommendations. The EAA Homebuilt Aircraft Council, representatives from our Flight Advisor and Technical Counselor programs, and the EAA Safety Committee are all working together on a comprehensive review process. Once that is complete, we will provide feedback on all the recommendations. This feedback will include our concerns, alternatives to accomplish safety improvement, and the aspects of the recommendations that the organization supports. These recommendations will affect you.
So what can you do about this? Improving safety is important to all of us. We as a community must continue to seek ways to create a better safety record. This can only happen if all of us take up the call. If we do not improve the safety record ourselves, new regulations could be imposed to attempt to do this for us. Is that what we want within the E-AB world? I think the answer is a resounding "No!"
We will be sharing EAA's response to the NTSB recommendations with you as soon as it is complete. As always, fly safely.
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.