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Delightfully Surprised by the FAA

By Dan Grunloh, Editor - Light Plane World, EAA 173888

Dan Grunloh

Friends have advised me there is a pretty good chance the FAA will make that small change in the regulations related to sport pilot instruction that has been requested. The simple problem has been obvious for several years, but nothing was done. So finally the EAA and others submitted a joint petition earlier this year. My continued skepticism can be credited to the fact that my aviation roots are in the ultralight community.

I have nothing but praise for the people who work at the FAA. Those I’ve meet have been terrific especially as it relates to ultralights and light planes. It’s because they can see we’re having lots of fun in aviation, and besides, many homebuilders and EAA members are included among their ranks. But imagine a job where one major airplane accident on the East Coast can put you six months to two years behind on your work. Or picture an agency where external political maneuvering and internal differences in philosophy can scrap whole departments or projects. The simple needs of a few thousand sport pilots can be easily buried under a mountain of bureaucracy and the urgency of other events.

The last time I checked the online public comments to the sport pilot instructor petition, there were only about 185 responses by aviation organizations representing hundreds of thousands of members. I think this is definitely not good. It doesn’t matter that almost all the comments are favorable. In my view that isn’t important; almost everyone in the community and perhaps almost everyone at the FAA support the change. I fear the size of the response will have an effect on the sense of urgency within that beleaguered federal agency.

Check the comments here by clicking on the Docket ID number and then checking the box for “Public Submission.” Scan the list of names for your friends or other notable persons in sport aviation. A lot of names are missing that I thought I might see. Hopefully every subpart K sport pilot instructor will respond, and so should many of his students. We need to get going on this and run the numbers up much higher in case this necessary change isn’t immediately (one to two years?) forthcoming. A relatively small number of comments won’t be helpful.

Leaving a public comment on the government website is easy and fun, and the message doesn’t have to be eloquent or sophisticated. The main point is to be counted. Telling your government what to do could be a group activity for your local EAA chapter. Public comments don’t have to come from your home computer. The simple web form can be filled out by anyone, anywhere. A laptop computer with a wireless Internet connection at your monthly chapter meeting could be the source of multiple comments. The activity would help promote a sense of chapter community, and maybe it would help us all to be delightfully surprised by the FAA.

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