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.
- More Protection for Aviators
- Sharing Ideas on Medical Certification
- Revised Residential Through-the-Fence Policy Published
- The Final Word: AirVenture Advocacy at its Best!
The GA community received excellent news at AirVenture 2012 when the Pilot's Bill of Rights, sponsored by U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and sent to President Obama. The president signed the bill, which had been approved by the U.S. Senate in late June, into law on August 3.
"This is a great day for aviation," EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower said. "Congratulations and thanks to Sen. Inhofe for making this a possibility and for recognizing the need for improvements in the FAA enforcement, NOTAM, and medical certification systems. Thanks and congratulations also to Rep. Sam Graves for his invaluable support and assistance in the House."
Sen. Inhofe and Rep. Graves, along with Doug Macnair of EAA and Kathy Yodice of AOPA, gave Oshkosh attendees an overview of the legislation on July 27. Sen. Inhofe also talked to the entire AirVenture audience during an interview on the air show announcer's stand that day.
"The last holdout in terms of justice, of being guilty until proven innocent, is being hit in some kind of allegation by an examiner of the FAA and then not knowing what you did wrong," Sen. Inhofe said.
The bipartisan measure was aided by the support of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada), the Senate majority leader, who assisted with overcoming political wrangling in the Senate. The leadership support helped the bill break through only a year after its introduction.
"If it hadn't been for Harry Reid, we wouldn't have been able to do it," Inhofe told the Oshkosh audience. "He said, 'Inhofe, you've always been fair with me.' And we have a great relationship."
The Pilot's Bill of Rights improves due process and appeals procedures for pilots involved in FAA enforcement actions. It also simplifies the notice to airmen (NOTAM) system with a central database for all NOTAMs, makes recordings of flight service briefings available, and requires the FAA to review its medical certification forms to clarify the language for pilots.
EAA will serve on FAA advisory panels to assist with the execution of various provisions within the Pilot's Bill of Rights now that it has been signed into law.
Australia's GA authorities have taken a pioneering approach to medical certification for pilots, and their ideas are well worth studying as EAA and AOPA ask for an exemption to the FAA's current third-class medical requirements.
Oshkosh provided the perfect venue to find out more. Twice during AirVenture 2012, EAA officials met with high-level representatives of Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), that nation's equivalent of the FAA. Those meetings allowed EAA to ask how the Australian policymakers are examining their regulations to potentially welcome more people to flight.
Australia recently enacted a simplified process for pilot medical certification that includes a form to be signed by your general practitioner physician. That form certifies for two years a person's fitness to a national standard for that country's unlimited driver's license. That approval would also apply for flying aircraft of less than 3,300 pounds, provided a person does not have one of 10 restricting conditions.
While Australia has more nationalized health care and driver's licensing systems than the United States, there are ideas within that nation's rules that could be worth reviewing in America.
"What these meetings did was spark more ideas that can be included in the ongoing dialogue on medical certification for aviators," said Doug Macnair, EAA vice president of government relations. "The current EAA/AOPA exemption request is our current effort to ease medical certification burdens while maintaining safety. Within the new Australian rules, however, may be even more possibilities to support alternative ways to certify the fitness and safety of pilots."
On February 14, 2012, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 was signed into law (Public Law 112.95). Section 136 of this law grants general aviation airports the authority to enter into access agreements with individuals who own residential property adjacent to or near the airport.
This win for general aviation airports was the result of a three-year effort by EAA and the Residential Through-the-Fence (RTTF) Airport Working Group organized and chaired by EAA to ensure that pilot homeowners could continue having access to the GA airport where they live or have adjacent property. The new policy will allow for single- or multi-family dwellings, duplexes, apartments, or primary or secondary residences even when co-located with a hangar, aeronautical facility, or business. It also allows hangars that incorporate living quarters for permanent or long-term use and timeshare apartments for variable occupancy of any term to have controlled direct access to the airport for flying.
Even after Public Law 112.95 was signed, EAA continued to fight for homeowners by seeking clarifying language from the FAA Airports Division regarding two specific sections:
- "(2)(B)(iii) To maintain the property for residential, noncommercial use for the duration of the agreement"; and
- "(2)(B)(v) To prohibit any aircraft refueling from occurring on the property."
EAA fought to ensure that RTTF homeowners would continue to have the same rights as aircraft owners whose aircraft were hangared on the airport, including the right to self-maintain their aircraft. That encompasses the ability to self-fuel and self-maintain their own aircraft by contracting with any repairman, A&P, or other aircraft maintenance expert to maintain an aircraft in the safest condition possible.
"EAA was extremely happy to see that the FAA Airports Division understood that need, worked with Congress, and provided clarifying language in this new draft policy, published on July 31, 2012," said Randy Hansen, EAA government relations director. "It fully allows all aspects of self-maintaining one's aircraft."
EAA will be working with the RTTF Airport Working Group in developing comments to this draft document prior to the August 29, 2012, deadline. We will also continue coordinating with the FAA Airports Division on a goal of publishing this new policy in final form by September 30, 2012, then seeking an updated version of FAA Order 5190.6B, Airport Compliance Manual, by December 31, 2012.
The Final Word - Sean Elliott, EAA Vice President of Advocacy and Safety
AirVenture Advocacy at its Best!
If you are one of the 508,000 people who attended this year's EAA AirVenture celebration in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, then it is a fair bet that you saw an incredible number of amazing things. Perhaps it was the world-class air show, or the shimmering aircraft on display, or even the great selection of vendors to pick up the latest gadgets that caught your attention. Regardless of your fancy, I would be willing to bet that with all the incredible things happening at the event, it never crossed your mind that your organization was hard at work with its advocacy efforts!
AirVenture is one of the most significant weeks of the year for the EAA government team. It is a week filled with interaction and opportunity. Every agency that has a touch point with aviation is on-site. FAA, NTSB, TSA, and many others (more than a dozen separate federal agencies from around the globe) participate in our government meetings and special events. The chance to sit down with key officials and talk specific issues and concerns is a major part of the AirVenture week for EAA. It is unlike any other venue on the calendar. Only at Oshkosh do we have the key officials outside of the Washington, D.C., arena and in the general aviation environment.
That fact alone goes a long way in setting the tone for productive dialogue! This year for the first time in EAA's history, the NTSB chairman held a forum to interact with the EAA community and answer questions from the audience.
While the FAA administrator has participated in a similar venue for years, having the NTSB do so as well was really great for those in attendance! Chairman Deborah Hersman was very well-received and truly enjoyed being at AirVenture for the better part of the week, as did the two NTSB members who accompanied her to Oshkosh.
In addition, EAA advocacy staff had the opportunity to meet with two U.S. senators, five U.S. representatives, and several state legislators who attended AirVenture. Each of those meetings was an opportunity to discuss aviation policy issues that are important to our members.
EAA has always strived to work behind the scenes with the various agencies to ensure regulation and policy are sensible for our community. AirVenture is perhaps the best venue for us to do that effectively.
So the next time you are here and enjoying the sights, remember your government team is hard at work somewhere on the grounds ensuring that you can continue to enjoy the world's best aviation system.
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.