This month’s question: I have never understood why EAA chapters cannot own and fly aircraft as part of the whole chapter organization. Is this something that the EAA voted on at the meeting in Oshkosh? — Carl Bogardus, EAA 114219, Chapter 555
Answer: In 2014, EAA explored the approach of allowing EAA chapters to own flying aircraft so that a chapter could form a flying club. This would provide a landing spot for chapter build projects and allow members to have affordable access to flying. There were two determining factors that led us to the rule that chapters cannot operate airworthy aircraft, and the recommendation that members form a flying club outside of the chapter.
Ultimately, the expense of the liability insurance required for a chapter-run club proved to be very cost-prohibitive, defeating the purpose of a flying club. An EAA chapter-sponsored flying club would be required to carry the same hull and liability insurance as any other flying club, which roughly costs between $3,000 and $4,000. However, on top of that, chapters would be required to pay an additional $8,000 of liability insurance to protect the chapter and EAA as a whole. At the end of the day, that number was too high to accept.
In addition to the financial burden, EAA realized there might be potential conflicts of interest within a chapter. In most chapters, many members already own and operate their own aircraft, which means that only a subset of the chapter members would benefit from a chapter-sponsored flying aircraft. Chapters would be spending financial resources, fundraising, and membership dues on a member benefit that only a fraction of the members would use. This could have led to disagreements within a chapter.
Since the process of forming a separate entity for a flying club can seem daunting, EAA is here to help! We can answer any questions you have on forming a nonprofit corporation, becoming tax exempt, and transferring a chapter build to a flying club, and we can also provide sample bylaws and operating guidelines.
In the near future, you will see a more extensive Flying Club Resource Center on our website at www.EAA.org/FlyingClubs, which already includes EAA’s Flying Club Manual. In the meantime, feel free to e-mail David Leiting at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions not covered in the manual or on our current webpage.