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.
- Thousands Support Medical Certificate Exemption
- Challenges Ahead in Avgas Transition
- FAA Revised LSA Compliance Policy
- The Final Word: The Future of Warbird Ride Programs
A stream of favorable comments became a wide river of support in late June as the public comment period for the EAA/AOPA third-class medical certificate exemption request neared its close.
Both EAA and AOPA urged its members to submit comments to the FAA in support of the exemption request, which was filed in late March. It would allow pilots to fly fixed-gear, single-engine airplanes of 180 hp or less carrying no more than one passenger in day VFR using a valid driver's license as evidence of medical qualification. The exemption also would create an online aeromedical training course that each pilot must study. An online exam would test the pilot's retention of the course material.
"We thank every one of you who have submitted your comments of support for the exemption request," EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower said in a video message to members that urged them to join those who had already commented. "This is a major step forward in maintaining the freedom of flight in America while keeping a high level of safety and proficiency for pilots."
The more than 15,000 comments are nearly unprecedented in response to a petition to the FAA. In an informal EAA review of aviation-related public comment logs over the past 10 years, only two (the Washington, D.C., air defense identification zone and the LightSquared GPS controversy) totaled more than 10,000 comments.
Following the end of the comment period, the FAA will review all comments before determining how to act upon the EAA/AOPA exemption request. No timetable for a final decision has been set.
On June 27, the Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee (UAT ARC) issued its final report and recommendations on the challenges to develop and deploy an unleaded aviation fuel to the GA piston-engine fleet. This collaborative industry-government task force consisted of key stakeholders representing aircraft and engine manufacturers, fuel producers and distributors, operator groups, EAA and other aviation associations, the FAA, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The primary challenge is that there is no single "drop-in" unleaded replacement for today's GA fleet. The committee recommendations urged that the FAA create a facility to test as many as 10 "candidate fuels" to find the best replacement for the current 100LL.
EAA and other GA organizations stand united in the continued research into unleaded avgas. Even though the amount of lead used in today's fuels is very small and much less than 30 years ago, an unleaded fuel is a goal worth pursuing. Issues ranging from safety, to distribution, to profit potential will all play a part in any transition.
The UAT ARC proposed an 11-year timeline for a transition to unleaded avgas. That timeline is dependent, however, on public/private funding, as well as steady technical advances in developing new fuels. Some of today's emerging fuels may be part of that development, but the road ahead will not be quick or easy.
On June 28, the FAA issued a policy revision directly related to how light-sport aircraft (LSA) manufacturers document the airworthiness and ASTM consensus standards for newly manufactured LSA. It was a long-anticipated revision that will not have a negative impact on the LSA industry.
When the sport pilot and LSA rule was created (September 1, 2004), the FAA accepted a new aircraft certification standard, the ASTM consensus standard. Under this new policy, LSA manufacturers were responsible for determining and then recording the airworthiness certification of the aircraft they produced and sold to the public. Since this was a brand new concept, EAA and the LSA manufacturers have been aware that the FAA would undertake periodic, systematic reviews of the certification process.
The new policy revision is simply a refinement or redirection of how LSA manufacturers record the airworthiness certification of their aircraft. These new procedures will become effective on September 26, 2012, giving LSA manufacturers a three-month lead time to re-establish recordkeeping procedures to comply with the new policy.
In the policy revision document, the FAA did not indicate any problems with the ASTM consensus standards, the development of those standards, or the safety of LSA themselves. This proves that the sport pilot and LSA rules, policies, and procedures established by the original rule have succeeded in creating a new pilot and aircraft program that has and will continue to promote affordable growth within the recreational aviation community.
EAA will continue partnering with ASTM, the FAA, and LSA manufacturers to ensure the LSA industry continues to evolve into the most exciting and vibrant worldwide aviation industry possible.
The Final Word - Sean Elliott, EAA Vice President of Advocacy and Safety
The Future of Warbird Ride Programs
I will never forget my flight in EAA's B-17 Aluminum Overcast in which I met Margret. You see, Margret was a passenger with a very special connection to the B-17. Following the flight, she was near the tail of the aircraft, clutching a photo and in tears. I approached Margret, and she shared with me why that flight was such an emotional one for her. She was born in May of 1943, and her father was killed one month prior on board a B-17 that was forced to ditch in the Black Sea. She never knew her dad, other than stories from her mom and the photos that she retains to this day. She told me that the flight on board Aluminum Overcast was the closest she had ever gotten to understanding what her father had died for. After a lengthy discussion, she returned the next day to share her dad's logs and diaries with me. It was a very special interaction, indeed.
Knowing the importance of providing these flight experiences and what it truly means to "keep 'em flying," I recently participated in the FAA public meetings on "Living History Flight Exemptions" in Washington, D.C. While there has been a great deal of discussion on the Web forums suggesting that "the FAA wants to shut these programs down," I can assure you that it does not want that at all. In fact, the agency was quite interested in feedback on how things can be improved. It was stressed that the FAA's charge is to create policies that provide an "equal level of safety" to regular commercial operations. None of the operators disagreed with that filter and shared their best practice ideas in order to meet that goal.
In all, 36 different policy issues were discussed. Everything from maintenance and corrosion inspections to the different types of ride experiences was reviewed with the group. Jet operations, passengers being able to handle the flight controls in fighters, and aerobatic experiences in fighters were among the hot topics. While the FAA will have the final say as to the new policy, I felt that the dialogue was robust and the feedback provided should give the FAA a clear path forward to continue to allow these wonderful experiences in warbird aircraft. We should be hearing more from the FAA during AirVenture this year. Stay tuned!
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.