EAA Government Advocacy
FACT: There is no other place that provides the access, the connections, and the possibilities to benefit general aviation (GA) by bringing top aviation policymakers together with the people they serve than EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.
The reason is fairly simple: Policymakers come to Oshkosh and have to look us straight in the eye and tell us what they’re doing—or not doing, if that’s the case. That contact alone helps bridge gaps better than a thousand teleconferences or office-bound meetings inside the Beltway in Washington.
At Oshkosh, policymakers don’t deal in theory. They see the GA fleet at its most impressive and meet us, the people who fly these aircraft and fund the budgets they use. It’s also an opportunity for pilots to speak face-to-face with government officials at the Federal Pavilion and other locations. So the lines of communication go both ways. This year, the items announced or accomplished at AirVenture included the following:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognized the importance of AirVenture when it selected Oshkosh as the site for DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to introduce its GA watch program If You See Something, Say Something. EAA’s efforts made sure the program is a partnership between GA and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) instead of creating new regulations for airport security. Napolitano’s visit also marks the first time a DHS secretary attended AirVenture. See DHS activities at AirVenture 2010.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood told EAA members that general aviation is a vital part of the nation’s transportation infrastructure and the administration is dedicated to it. While actions speak louder than words, LaHood’s visit and statement is something that will be a baseline for future discussions with the Department of Transportation.
The coalition that will find the successor to 100 low-lead aviation fuel was strengthened. Having aviation and petroleum groups together at AirVenture allowed the coalition to unify further, learn the facts behind any timeline for a fuel transition, and push the FAA to take a strong leadership role in that transition.
GA pilots/aircraft gained the ability to use gateway airports to fly into presidential temporary flight restriction (TFR) zones. Flying into these gateway airports would require filing a flight plan similar to what is needed in the Washington, D.C., Special Flight Rules Area (DC-SFRA). That had not been possible before, and it’s a breakthrough for EAA members and other pilots.
Duplicate paperwork for international border crossings by U.S. pilots was eliminated. While the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) program still has some flaws, getting federal agencies like the TSA and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to work together to reduce the burdens on pilots is always a good thing.
Clearance was received for U.S. sport pilots with driver’s license medicals to fly light-sport aircraft to the Bahamas. The Bahamas is the first nation to allow U.S. sport pilots to fly to their facilities. EAA hopes this will be the model for future breakthroughs.
Bringing everyone together at Oshkosh also allows EAA to push federal agencies that have promised progress on GA issues to move the ball forward. FAA officials know that EAA members expect progress in the six months between the annual FAA/EAA Winter Meeting in Oshkosh and AirVenture, and those officials also know EAA will be asking about it.
Bringing all the stakeholders together, meeting face-to-face, keeping accountability in front of the GA community—these are the things that make Oshkosh important. The atmosphere may be relaxed, but the issues and discussion are more focused and inclusive than anywhere else.
As one media outlet put it, if AirVenture is on the annual must-do list for the FAA administrator, you know it’s important. It is here that we also push the issues and build the relationships that are essential to preserving our right to enjoy personal flight.
On our Radar
The Question of whether a flight instructor with a sport pilot rating may provide instruction with reference solely to instruments required prior to solo cross-country §61.93(e)(12) remains unanswered. Current regulations require a subpart K instructor (SP-CFI) to hold at least a private pilot certificate §91.109(b)(1) and a third class medical §61.3(c) in order to give that instruction. EAA is working with FAA to fix this apparent oversight.
Administrator Babbitt commented aboutaccidents in amateur-built aircraft, often involving high-performance aircraft, and the need for transition training. EAA is again encouraging the FAA to release guidance provided under §91.319(h) to allow for compensated flight training in experimental aircraft. The guidance has been in development for more than five years.
FAA funding that includes new airline pilot training requirements was passed short-term by the House and Senate. Provisions in the bill would require first officers of commercial airlines to hold an airline transport certificate and a minimum of 1,500 hours of total time. The impact of those provisions on the airline pilot supply could be significant.
The value of recreational aviation and backcountry airstrips was recognized by House Resolution 1473 passed by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The Resolution commends aviators and the various private organizations that maintain these airstrips for public use, many of which are located on the nation’s public lands. EAA is encouraging members to contact their representatives and ask them to support the resolution.
EAA in Action
At the Ask the Administrator Forum, EAA members had the opportunity to meet FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt and ask their personal questions. Prior to the forum, EAA government relations staff received hundreds of questions from members. The questions were forwarded to the administrator and FAA senior management so they are aware of the issues affecting EAA members and the general aviation community.
Recognizing the volunteers - The month, our advocacy news focuses on our government activities during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010. What may not be apparent is that without the help of dedicated volunteers, we could not have as great of an impact on the government officials who attend Oshkosh each year.
Working with the advocacy staff are EAAers who give of their time and experience to introduce government officials to recreational aviation. More importantly, EAAers help them understand the needs and wants of General Aviation and the impact of government policies and regulation on a vibrant recreational community.
I am amazed every year by the dedication and quality of volunteers in all areas of AirVenture—from those who help feed other volunteers to those parking airplanes, from teaching building techniques, to manning admissions at the front gate. The advocacy area is no different.
The volunteer chairman for our team is Barry Valentine, who has been an EAA member for more than 30 years. He has held positions such as acting FAA administrator in 1997 and FAA assistant administrator for policy, planning, and international aviation previous to that. The rest of the advocacy volunteer team is made up of retired state and federal officials and longtime EAA volunteers. They all have one thing in common—a love for EAA and sport aviation.
This passion for aviation was particularly noted this year when we took a few moments to recognize Barry for his latest achievement—earning the FAA Master Pilot Award. Barry is the third member of the EAA volunteer advocacy team to be recognized for 50 years of safe piloting. The current FAA administrator, Randy Babbitt, took a few moments in his busy week to recognize these master pilots—Barry, Advocacy Volunteer Co-Chairman Art Schwedler, and Vintage Airplane columnist and Vintage Hall of Fame inductee “Buck” Hilbert.
Thank you to the EAA advocacy team, and to all the volunteers worldwide, who give their time and experience to support aviation and help ensure its future. It is my honor to work with and for you all.
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Read more about out what else is happening in the world of EAA's government relations.
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.