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Sen. Jim Inhofe to Talk General Aviation Legislation at AirVenture 2021
By Sam Oleson
July 30, 2021 – Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), EAA 179992, will speak to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 attendees about multiple pieces of current legislation that benefit and protect the general aviation community at his Congressional Update forum. The forum takes place Saturday, July 31, at 10 a.m. at Forum Stage 11.
The Certainty for General Aviation Pilots Act will provide certainty that pilots engaged in flight training and flight testing are not considered as “carrying persons or property for compensation or hire.” This is in response to an FAA directive that has required thousands of GA pilots and flight instructors to acquire a letter of deviation authority (LODA) before being allowed to train in their own experimental aircraft.
Meanwhile, the National Center for the Advancement of Aviation (NCAA) will ensure the development and sustainability of the civil and military aviation workforce via the promotion of youth aviation programs and the availability of aviation-oriented curriculum for students of all ages.
“This is a policy that we have started, and I have a lot of cosponsors on this thing,” Inhofe said of NCAA. “It empowers the coordination between the private sector and public sector and everyone else. … This is an attempt to get youth aviation activity.”
The PLANE Act, from 2018, ensures that tax receipts from all aviation fuel sources are deposited in the Airport and Airway Trust Fund so all aviation user fees go to support aviation infrastructure and the aviation community, as well as empowering trained private citizens who want to certify pilots and aircraft by giving them civil liability protection, and designating qualified GA airports as “disaster relief airports.”
Finally, the HANGARS Act would fund $1 billion in hangar improvements at GA airports across the country to address growing aircraft hangar shortages and to support economic development for rural communities.
“It’s one of the big problems general aviation has,” Inhofe said of the lack of hangar space.
Inhofe is also celebrating a number of wins for the general aviation community, including the five-year anniversary of third-class medical reform, or BasicMed. Enacted in 2016, this reform has helped to substantially grow the number of active pilots, with nearly 66,000 pilots using the program today.
“This is the five-year anniversary of that. It’s hard for me to believe it’s five years ago,” Inhofe said. “Some 66,000 pilots are flying today that weren’t flying before that. It’s all because of the third-class medical and the way that we simplified it. It has made a lot of advancements.”
The Volunteer Pilot Protection Act has provided volunteer pilots with liability protection when they are flying for the public benefit, such as flying patients for medical transport, disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, or other similar charitable missions.
The Securing and Revitalizing Aviation (SARA) Act authorized a pilot education program, focusing competitive grants to enable high schools to offer ground school courses to young people, while ensuring the FAA updates regulations and policies related to the selection, training, and deployment of designated pilot examiners (DPE) to ensure commercial and recreational pilots have access to an adequate number of examiners.
Inhofe also noted how proud he is of Oklahoma-based General Aviation Modifications Inc. (GAMI), which recently received the FAA’s approval of an STC for its G100UL unleaded aviation fuel in certain Lycoming O-320, O-360, and IO-360 piston engines.
“They spent more than a decade developing the alternative fuel. They’re leading the show for what we’re accomplishing.”
The defeat of ATC privatization, the Aviation Maintenance Workforce Development Pilot Program Bill, and The Modernize Training at Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools Bill were also noted as significant wins for general aviation.
Inhofe, who is an 11,000-hour pilot and began flying in 1959, is attending AirVenture for the 42nd consecutive time (excluding last year’s cancellation) and is excited to be back.
“I can’t tell you a better barometer to get back to normal [than Oshkosh],” Inhofe said. “After the pandemic, there’s no one out there that didn’t go through a lot of inconvenience. As I got out of the plane here at Oshkosh, I was thinking, ‘It’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. This is how it’s always been.’ … It’s refreshing to know that there’s a universe out there that’s cohesive, where everybody loves everybody. [AirVenture] is an area of love and respect for general aviation.”