EAA/FAA 2009 Winter Aviation Summit
Annual Sessions Begin at Oshkosh
February 23, 2009 — Leaders from EAA and the FAA are meeting at EAA Headquarters in Oshkosh today and tomorrow to work on key issues of concern to EAA members. This gathering is just one small part of EAA’s year-round efforts to work with regulators to identify, address, and resolve issues that affect EAA members. “EAA works year-round with regulators and policymakers at all levels of government on behalf of EAA members,” said EAA President Tom Poberezny. “Bringing EAA and FAA officials together, face-to-face, here and during AirVenture Oshkosh is an efficient and effective way to keep the work going, to bring the breadth and depth of EAA and FAA staff to bear on issues that are important to the general aviation community.”
This two-day annual gathering, first held in 2005, is “a true working session,” Poberezny emphasized. But it is just one waypoint in EAA’s year-round, multifaceted efforts. Throughout the year, EAA staff meets with government officials in Washington, D.C., in state capitals, and in local municipalities, to represent EAA members’ interests and concerns.
The face-to-face meetings build on the continuous work that EAA does to advocate for its members, Poberezny said. They “keep the ball rolling” — ensuring that action plans, objectives, and benchmarks are fulfilled.
Participants at this two-day meeting include EAA headquarters staff and division heads, and officials from the FAA’s Aircraft Certification and Flight Standards offices.
The issues on this year’s agenda include:
- Amateur-Built Aircraft and the 51% Rule — The Amateur-Built Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) reconvened for a three-day session last week in Washington, D.C. to examine the thousands of public comments on the FAA’s much-debated proposals for policy and procedural changes to the 51% Rule. The EAA/FAA Summit will include a report on the ARC and its findings, as well as a discussion of recent efforts by Clark County, Nevada to preempt federal control over its local airspace.
- Vintage Aircraft and Aging Aircraft — Engineering data for “orphaned aircraft” (those whose manufacturers have gone “over the hill”), field approvals and STCs, and other aging aircraft issues have been hot topics at each year’s Summit. Officials will report on several joint EAA/FAA initiatives to assist restorers and owners of vintage aircraft.
- Amateur-Built (AB) and Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) Safety — Accidents are on the rise for AB and LSA. EAA and FAA officials will review accident data and EAA safety programs, hear a progress report on accident prevention efforts, and look at the future of ultralight flight training, now that “fat ultralights” must be certified as LSAs.
- Aviation Fuels — There is growing pressure from environmentalists and legislators to remove all lead from aviation fuel. So far, there is so far no comparable alternative. Summit participants will hear a report on current initiatives toward finding replacement fuels and other options, and will discuss how FAA and EAA can support the development of new fuels, engines, and related technologies.
- Sport Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft (SP/LSA) — An SP/LSA “Report Card” is a regular feature of the Summit. It will include reports on current statistics, fine-tuning of the SP/LSA Rule, and emerging electric engine technology for LSAs and ultralights. The FAA give an update on its ongoing LSA Manufacturers’ Assessment, which is aimed at identifying and addressing industry-wide issues in the design, manufacturing, and building of Light Sport Aircraft.
- Aerobatic Aircraft and Warbird Operations — The Summit will examine flight proficiency restrictions and environmental issues for aerobatic aircraft. Warbirds are a priceless national asset—a living history lesson that entertains and informs millions of Americans each year. The Summit will include a discussion of current and proposed operational limitations on civilian-registered warbird aircraft, with the goal of keeping them flying.
FAA officials say they look forward to this gathering and to the many meetings with aviation’s grass roots that occur every summer at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. At AirVenture 2008, then FAA Associate Administrator Nick Sabatini summed up the feelings of many FAA officials when he said, "We don’t work together just for the sake of working together. We work together because of the things we can accomplish when we work together."
A huge amount of work gets accomplished each year at AirVenture Oshkosh and at this winter gathering. “But it is just the tip of the iceberg,” Poberezny said. EAA’s year-round engagement with all levels of government gives EAA members a strong voice in the regulatory process, and fosters actions to address members’ concerns. Most important, said Poberezny, EAA’s efforts produce results that help keep aviation affordable and accessible—turning dreams of flight into reality.