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EAA Defends Homebuilts' Access To Airports

Poberezny refutes official’s ‘unjustified’ appeal for federal policy change

August 27, 2008 — EAA President Tom Poberezny today offered perspectives from EAA's amateur aircraft-building community to an airport official who, in the aftermath of an accident involving an amateur-built aircraft, publicly called for federal policies that could restrict the operation of experimental-category aircraft at metropolitan airports. Poberezny also ramped up EAA’s ongoing outreach to Congressional delegates to provide information and views on the safety and value of amateur-building activities in aviation.

The accident occurred Friday, August 22 at North Las Vegas Airport. A Velocity amateur-built aircraft struck a house shortly after takeoff. The pilot and two people on the ground perished in the accident. In the immediate aftermath, Las Vegas Aviation Director Randy Walker called on FAA and Congress to allow metropolitan airports to bar experimental-category operations at their facilities, including amateur-built aircraft operations.

In a letter sent to Walker today, Poberezny cited the safety record of amateur-built aircraft operations at that airport, and pointed to a nationwide trend of improved safety in amateur-built aviation. "To propose that eliminating all Experimental aircraft from the airport would enhance its safety record is unjustified," Poberezny wrote.

EAA has concurred with FAA policy for the past several years prohibiting first flights of amateur-built aircraft at North Las Vegas Airport. Amateur-built aircraft operations following initial testing, however, have proven to be as safe as other operations at the airport.

"The responsible course is to support a thorough investigation of this accident by the FAA and NTSB toward the objectives of determining the actual cause and identifying any recommendations for enhancing safety," Poberezny’s letter read. "We are all dedicated to making flight operations as safe as possible, but instant judgments and reactions only cloud the real issues and hinder realistic solutions."

Meanwhile, EAA representatives are briefing members of Congress, including those from the House Aviation Subcommittee who held a forum at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in late July. “The relationships established between EAA members and Congressional representatives during AirVenture foster the exchange of facts and information with these lawmakers about important issues,” Poberezny added in an interview today.

"We’re imparting a greater understanding of the amateur building movement as a continuing source of innovation — pioneering techniques and technology — for the benefit of all of aviation. And when we present the facts, figures, and trends, we show that this sector of aviation continues to uphold the margins of safety expected in aviation," Poberezny said.

“The answer does not lie in restricting entire segments of aviation in response to any single accident or incident. Rather, we must continually learn from experience and continue to advance the safety of flight.”

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