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.
- Presidential Campaigns Means More TFRs
- NTSB E-AB Safety Recommendations Update
- Your Advocacy & Safety Department at Work
- The Final Word: Pilot's Bill of Rights: Fairness in Process
The Presidential election is an all-American tradition, but one that can cause headaches for many pilots and a black eye for GA in the court of public opinion.
With the national election in its final weeks, temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) will bloom on an almost-daily basis throughout the country. While a presidential visit via Air Force One can cause a 20- or 30-mile no-fly zone to be established almost without warning, rolling tours such as bus caravans can be even more problematic because of lengthy no-fly zones and uncertain start and end times.
EAA, AOPA, and other GA organizations have pushed for more reasonable TFR boundaries and advance warnings for the past decade. The TFRs often cause confusion with their sudden emergence, sometimes only hours before a candidate's arrival. It's possible that a pilot who gets a clear briefing in the morning will find the airplane in the midst of a restricted area by mid-day.
One major hurdle in making TFRs less invasive and burdensome is that they are controlled by the Secret Service, not the FAA or Department of Transportation. In the past, that agency has occasionally listened to GA's concerns about TFRs, but has shown little inclination toward a more flexible policy.
How does a GA pilot make sure there's not an unplanned meeting with an Air Force F-16? Take extra precautions. Even a recreational flight or dash around the pattern is reason enough to get that one final briefing just before takeoff. Be alert to news broadcasts and possible election rallies in your region.
EAA continues to evaluate and review the recent NTSB E-AB safety recommendations. The full NTSB study was finally released in late July. Our Homebuilt Aircraft Council and Safety Committee are helping the organization to develop a full response to the safety recommendations. EAA will be working with both the FAA and NTSB to find the best solutions. EAA anticipates an executive summary of the organization's response to be published yet this fall.
Several interesting hot spots were shared as being evident in the study. It is glaring that loss of control in the traffic pattern kills more pilots than any other category by a hefty margin. The classic stall/spin during base to final as well as during initial departure are still wreaking havoc. Fairly new to our world is the fast emerging area of second owners. Fatal accidents of second-owner aircraft are another clear sign that pilots are ignoring transition training benefits and attempting to "climb in and go." These causal factors are no different than in standard category aircraft within GA, but at a higher frequency rate in E-AB aircraft.
The E-AB community has to find a way to operate more safely. We owe it to each other to respect the need for safety and embrace practices that enhance it. Only through each and every one of us, including the unreachables, can we truly improve the safety record of E-AB aircraft and thus protect our freedoms to experiment and innovate with our own personal touch. If we don't all band together and force the issue, we will only see the decline of freedoms in aviation that we all cherish. None of us want that to happen.
Look for the EAA response to the NTSB study later this fall. In the meantime, fly safely, and convince a fellow aviator to do so as well. We will all be glad that you did.
As mentioned in last month's The Final Word, AirVenture is where federal leaders come to Oshkosh to interact with EAA staff, members, and aviation enthusiasts. After all the productive meetings involving EAA's advocacy and safety staff, the leaders of the EAA divisions (IAC, Warbirds, VAA, and Homebuilders Council), and international civil aviation and safety authorities, it's been a very busy August and September for the advocacy and safety staff. We're putting the wheels in motion on the many initiatives discussed at AirVenture, including:
- Residential Through-the-Fence (RTTF): EAA was extremely pleased with the changes made to this program at general aviation airports. One key area that stood out was the elimination of the previously mandated 20-year limit on RTTF access agreements, which may now match a homeowner's 30-year home mortgage.
- FAA's DRAFT Air Traffic Controllers Manual (Order 7110.65): Updating specific portions of this manual to educate controllers about unique operating procedures and safety criteria for light-sport aircraft were main points of EAA's comments. Specifically, there are needs for powered parachutes (PPCs) to set up their chutes off hard surfaces, PPC and weight-shift control (WSC) aircraft to avoid the flow of fixed-wing aircraft in airport traffic patterns, and PPC, WSC, and gyroplanes to operate at a lower traffic pattern altitude.
- Detroit and Potomac Class B Airspace Revisions: EAA and AOPA are working to ensure the GA access into or through these airspace areas will not be harmed as the FAA modifies the Class B airspace in these regions.
- FAA's DRAFT AC 21-XX, Issuance of Airworthiness Certificates for S-LSA and E-LSA Aircraft: EAA is working directly with the FAA to refine the certification process to make sure that LSA models sold to the public meet all ASTM consensus standards. This effort began when the FAA started an update of airworthiness certificates based on inspections of LSA manufacturers.
A torch is also being passed within the EAA Advocacy and Safety Department.
Randy Hansen, who has handled many advocacy and safety issues on behalf of EAA for the past 14 years, is retiring on October 12, 2012. Randy has been working with Tom Charpentier, EAA's new advocacy specialist, to bring him up to speed on the many issues facing EAA members and GA.
We welcome Tom and wish Randy the very best in his retirement.
The Final Word - Sean Elliott, EAA Vice President of Advocacy and Safety
Pilot's Bill of Rights: Fairness in Process
As most of you are now aware, the legislation known as the Pilot's Bill of Rights, championed by Sens. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska), passed the Senate unanimously on June 29. It was then up to Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri), co-chair of the House GA Caucus, and GA Caucus member Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Illinois), who successfully led the measure through the House, where it ultimately passed on July 23. It is now a law that the FAA must enact to ensure it is in compliance.
So what does it mean for aviators? It is a new standard for fairness in process. If a government agency accuses you of violating a federal regulation, it must provide you with air traffic data relevant to your enforcement action. This means that recordings of flight service briefings and ATC communications, even at contract facilities, will be made available if you request it. There is a catch - some facilities only hang on to recordings for five days. Don't wait too long if you find yourself needing that data!
So realistically, does this help the pilot community? EAA believes it does. Fairness and transparency go hand-in-hand, and this new law does add a new level of those qualities. The enforcement process is a necessary "evil," and yet, sometimes, good people who make an honest mistake are judged guilty without everyone having all the facts. Hopefully, this new law will balance the enforcement process in the right direction.
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.