EAA Government Relations: A Look Back and a Look Ahead
January 3, 2008 — The continued collaboration among EAA members, EAA staff professionals, EAA chapters, and well-cultivated allies in all levels of government yielded significant developments and outcomes in 2007 on behalf of personal flight. "The progress we've made in the past year on several fronts demonstrates again that the EAA community's collective, collaborative, and constructive approach gets results," said Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president of industry and regulatory affairs.
"Our community of enthusiasts includes many and diverse interests in aviation. Nonetheless, despite our various areas of focus and priority, we all understand the value of championing more affordable, accessible, and achievable means of participating in personal flight. We also understand that successes in one area of interest advance the cause for all other areas of interest. This understanding helps to bind us together as a community," Lawrence added. Some of the challenges met - and some of those that will continue into the new year - include:
- The ongoing fight against user fees for general aviation continues. House Bill 2881 passed without users fees, while Senate Bill 1300, which has a $25 user fee for filing certain IFR flight plans, is still pending. The FAA funding bill's final version will be negotiated in a congressional conference committee sometime this year. "We all need to remain vigilant and continue working together to prevent the implementation of user fees," Lawrence said.
- Local EAA members, working with EAA government relations staff, proved that it's possible to fight City Hall - and to win. They worked together and overturned a Jacksonville, Florida, ordinance that prohibited aircraft homebuilding on residential property. "This issue may have been limited according to jurisdiction, but the ramifications for our hard-fought privilege to build and fly our own airplanes were considerable," Lawrence said.
- EAA is involved in ongoing advocacy action to protect existing amateur-built aircraft rules and to preserve and promote the nearly unlimited scope of this category of grassroots aviation innovation. "In the year ahead, we'll continue to focus on defending the privileges that we already have while working to open more doors of opportunity for those with various interests in building and flying their own aircraft," Lawrence said.
- EAA and Warbirds of America staff collaborated with others in the industry and senior government officials to eliminate restrictive flight proficiency areas in the operating limitations of experimental exhibition Warbirds.
- EAA is engaged in ongoing advocacy efforts and programs to promote increased safety for sport pilots, ultralight pilots, and pilots flying experimental amateur-built and exhibition aircraft.
- EAA, its members, and industry representatives worked to revise the light-sport aircraft (LSA) rules to allow operation of amphibious LSA with retractable landing gear. This consortium also succeeded in getting a rule revision to allow powered parachute and weight-shift trike owners to better match aircraft-registration requirements to these types of aircraft.
- EAA is involved in ongoing advocacy efforts to reduce equipment cost mandates for recreational aircraft that may be required by future national airspace regulations, including NextGen/ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance broadcast) equipment mandates. "We're all for improvements and upgrades to the air-transportation system," Lawrence said. "But those who enjoy recreational aviation should not bear an undue burden in facilitating commercial and hub-and-spoke aircraft operations."
- EAA and its members worked with other groups to reduce the size of the Washington, D.C., air defense identification zone (ADIZ) and free up 33 general aviation airports, hundreds of aircraft, and 1,800 square miles of airspace.
- Advocacy efforts are ongoing to mitigate proposed border crossing security requirements for general aviation aircraft.
- EAA and International Aerobatic Club (IAC) members were successful in reducing the regulatory burden regarding fuel and equipment requirements for aerobatic aircraft.
Through constructive engagement, EAA staff, division leaders, and EAA members have been successful mitigating the cost and complexity of participation in recreational aviation while protecting enthusiasts' freedom and access to personal recreational flight. These joint grass-roots efforts have allowed EAA to reach some historic benchmarks. "The above examples show that we all need to continue doing so for EAA to be an effective organization," Lawrence said.