EAA Government Advocacy - February 2010
Holes in the Fence For most pilots, through-the-fence issues may not be something that concerns them on a day-to-day basis. But it should. Even if you, your flying club, or your company does not rely on a special access agreement with your local airport from your hangar to its runways, the new FAA policy that severely limits such agreements will restrict aviation participation. Read More
On our Radar
The future of leaded avgas is limited, says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as it continues to communicate its concern about the last source of leaded fuel in the world, as it did at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and the recent AOPA Aviation Summit. In various public forums the EPA is stating that rulemaking to eliminate all leaded avgas is imminent. The frequency and number of discussions among EPA, aircraft and engine manufacturers, associations, and oil companies will increase as we enter the new year. The EPA has stated that it intends to publish draft rulemaking to trigger the removal of lead from aviation gasoline on or before October 2010. The EPA has also indicated in its public presentations that it would like to see leaded fuel phased out as early as 2017. “The level of industry engagement to develop a viable option to replace 100LL is at its highest level in more than 20 years,” said Earl Lawrence. EAA continues to work with the various industry and regulatory groups to come up with the most viable option possible.
A revised Large Aircraft Security Program NPRM is expected to be released by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) soon. EAA expects industry input from several 2009 public meetings with the TSA to be incorporated into the revised program. Once the new NPRM is released, EAA will review it and submit comments to the federal docket, keeping in mind the need for national security but protecting the freedom of citizens.
EAA in Action
EAA responded to the FAA regarding its policy for through-the-fence (TTF) and on-airport residential access. EAA believes that the FAA should not have a blanket policy against residential TTF operations. Rather it should continue the prior policy that allowed adjacent residential property through-the-fence agreements on a case-by-case basis that was based on the economic and operational needs of the public airport, and when safety, security, and equitable compensation issues were addressed.
EAA Warbirds of America and Earl Lawrence, EAA’s vice president of industry and regulatory affairs, will participate at the National Warbird Operator Conference in San Diego, California, on February 18-21. The conference provides an opportunity to discuss common goals and address the changing environments in which warbird aircraft are operated. In light of the FAA’s recent notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) requiring proficiency checks for a pilot in command of a single-piloted, turbojet-powered airplane, the need to organize as a community has never been greater, so these aviation participants can maintain their freedom of flight.
The FAA Amateur-Built Flight Standards Review Board will include EAA participation. The board was recently established with the goal of enhancing amateur-built safety. Watch www.EAA.org for development of this newly formed group.
EAA co-chaired the first meeting of the Light Sport-Joint Safety Committee (LS-JSC) during the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in January. The LS-JSC has been established to provide strategic oversight and direction for light-sport operations and manufacturing. It will serve as a vehicle for government-industry cooperation, communication, and coordination on light-sport safety issues.
Comments from EAA on the TSA Repair Station NPRM included agreement that security for repair stations that work primarily on commercial and transport category aircraft needs to be high. EAA disagrees, however, that the same level of security needs to be applied to small, general aviation (GA) repair stations. A one-size-fits-all approach would be financially burdensome and unnecessary for many GA repair stations.
EAA also participated in the ASTM Light Sport Committee meetings held during the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo. Presentations were given to both the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board to update those agencies on the light-sport aircraft community.
In recent weeks the news was filled with stories about the attempted terrorist bombing of a Delta/Northwest flight on December 25, 2009. This attempted bombing of an airliner will also have a significant effect on general aviation security. Even though a GA aircraft has not been part of a terrorist attack in the United States, the public and many government entities paint aviation with a single brush. Terrorist attempts instill additional caution or bias among national security personnel/regulators. It often results in more restrictions and controls for all flight operations. The general public is also less sympathetic of increased burdens placed on general aviation, such as additional security checks, temporary flight restrictions, and airport restrictions after such incidents.
Over the last few years I have seen a growing divide in the perceived “realities,” with general aviation pilots and aircraft owners on one side and with government regulators charged with national security and the public demanding increased aviation security on the other.
Case in point: Sometimes what the government feels is an effort minimize regulation is perceived as no action or worse by pilots directly affected by more regulations or security measures. This divide is leading to greater animosity and anger between pilots and our public officials.
I contend that our public officials are driven by the public’s fear and jealousy of general aviation. Aircraft owners are viewed as rich and spoiled. Here’s one example: I recently read a story from an aircraft owner in which she shared her experience with a grocery store bag boy who was helping carry bags to her car. The boy noticed the pilot organization stickers in her car window and asked if she owned an aircraft. She answered that she and her husband owned an amateur-built airplane. The bag boy then asked why she was not driving a luxury car. He didn’t understand that someone of moderate income could fly, let alone own, an aircraft. This is the public perception of aviation that conflicts with GA’s advocacy efforts.
Interestingly enough, December’s airliner incident and the resulting increased vigilance at commercial airports has led airline passenger groups to publicly debate the viability of airline travel. In recent interviews, those groups have questioned the effectiveness of many security measures versus the cost in travel freedom that results.
This is the new reality we face, and 2010 will be another challenging year for aviation security. TSA has pending new regulations for large aircraft security; the administration will be pushing security agencies to take additional measures to prevent possible terrorist bombing.
This is a challenge that reminds me of our challenge with safety. While it is an ultimate dream, we can never prevent every single aviation, car, or motorcycle accident. Is it realistic to consider that every terrorist action in or out of aviation can be stopped? As EAA has maintained since 9/11, the challenge is developing a reasonable balance between our freedom to fly and safety and security.
What do you think? How can each of us and your EAA organization best influence public opinion to favor our freedom to fly over burdensome security and safety restrictions? Share your comments in the Hangar Talk forum at www.Oshkosh365.org.
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 55-year history of success is a testament to that philosophy.