When you belong to EAA, you're a member of an organization that has its finger on the pulse of government issues affecting recreational aviation.
We do this by monitoring federal government notices and publications, our Washington staff staying in daily contact with FAA Headquarters, calls and emails from members, and by responding to the changes that impact recreational aviation. EAA headquarters staff, Washington staff, and volunteers work with more than a dozen federal agencies, including the FAA, and Transport Canada to help shape future policies.
EAA’s Advocacy and Government Relations Mission Statement
To preserve the freedom of flight and reduce the regulatory barriers affecting affordability and access to EAA members’ participation in aviation. Protecting the freedom to fly is the foundation on which all of the organization’s advocacy initiatives are built. EAA fights to preserve this freedom not through idle threats and flashy campaigns, but by providing clear solutions and practical alternatives backed by hard work and dedication. EAA’s 55-year history of success is a testament to that philosophy.
EAA Keeps Aircraft Fuel Tanks Full
EAA is focusing its organizational and member resources to head off an attempt by several states to require ethanol additives in gasoline before it leaves countless pilots without a way to obtain suitable fuel for their aircraft.
Legislation being debated in Missouri, for example, would require all gasoline sold to consumers for use in motor vehicles to contain 10 percent ethanol. Even though provisions are included to allow the sale of non-ethanol gasoline for use by aircraft, vintage cars, and motorboats, these aren’t feasible because they could impose financial and logistical burdens on fuel sellers, including installation of special tanks and/or requiring potentially expensive special delivery arrangements to ensure non-ethanol fuel availability.
Instead, EAA is promoting a simple solution based on legislation passed in Montana, exempting one grade of gasoline—premium grade (antiknock index number of 91 or greater)—from the ethanol requirement. This will cover any and all possible combinations of exemptions to this proposed new rule and allow ethanol-free premium gasoline to be available to all aircraft, vintage cars, recreational vehicles, etc., at every gas station in the state.
Idaho and Washington are currently facing Senate and House Bills that would require all gasoline sold to consumers for use in motor vehicles to contain 2 percent denatured ethanol by December 1, 2008. Even though pending Idaho Senate bills include aviation exemptions, EAA feels they aren’t practical. But aircraft owners in Idaho who rely on auto fuel to operate their aircraft gained a reprieve earlier this month thanks in part to the efforts of EAA and its members. As a result, Idaho’s proposed legislation failed to make it out of a House committee which killed the state’s ethanol mandate for this session.
In Wisconsin, legislative action to require 10 percent ethanol in gasoline other than premium grade sold in the state was postponed indefinitely by a 17-15 vote in the State Senate. An EAA-led provision to exclude premium grade gasoline was included in the bill’s final version.
EAA is currently engaged in pending ethanol legislation in several other states, working to ensure that ethanol-free fuel remains widely available to its members and other pilots who need it.
FAA Medical Certification Update
Following EAA AirVenture 2005, EAA President Tom Poberezny and EAA Aeromedical Advisory Council Chairman Dr. Jack Hastings led an EAA delegation to come up with a solution to the medical certification log jam. One of the suggested solutions has come to fruition.
• Extend the interval between examinations (e.g., one year instead of six months for first class examinations, and five years for third-class medical certificates).
Effective July 24, 2008, a final rule entitled, “Modification of Certain Medical Standards and Procedures and Duration of Certain Medical Certificates,” became effective, thereby fulfilling item one of the EAA’s goals. Changes made are:
Certificate wording was modified to make it consistent with the new rule.
Duration periods for first and third-class medical certificates for airmen under the age of 40 at the date of their examinations, i.e. First Class certificates for airmen under the age of 40 at their last medical application, are good for one year. Third class certificates are now good for five years.
Previously issued certificates, i.e. a first-class certificate issued seven months before is good for an additional five months; and a third-class certificate issued two years previous is good for another three years. The FAA will not be mailing out an updated certificate to you. You should be aware of the extended date of your certificate and if you are stopped by an FAA inspector they should also be aware of the extension rule. Remember this rule change is only for those under the age of 40.
Duration period for second-class certificates remain as one year, regardless of age.
Certificates will continue to lapse to a lower class as they have in the past, and expiration continues to end on the last day of the month.
EAA and the EAA Aeromedical Council will continue to work with the FAA to improve upon medical certification issues.
EAA Opposes High Cost of User Fees
Imagine living without the freedom of flight as your airplane collects dust inside a musty hangar somewhere. That’s an all-too-real possibility as the FAA gets closer to taking money out of general aviators’ pockets by charging user fees for services such as air traffic control, aircraft and pilot certification, training, and licensing.
This crisis began when the FAA started spending money in its Airport and Airway Trust Fund to pay for their overhead instead of what it was intended for: facilities, equipment, and the Airport Improvement Program. Through poor budget management, FAA now projects that this trust fund will be nearly empty within two years. And they’re looking at general and recreational aviation aviators to pay for their mistake.
It’s no surprise that commercial aviation and the struggling airlines are in favor of charging a user fee. They’re trying to shift their economic problems onto a convenient scapegoat: general aviation. This, despite the fact that general aviation operations are not causing municipalities to build expensive new terminals, longer runways, and parking garages. Airline operations are. And those tremendously expensive facilities should continue to be paid for by those who demand these facilities and services: the airlines and their passengers.
Even more troubling is that a piecemeal user-fee system will give general aviation pilots a dangerous incentive to avoid using the safety features and programs provided by the National Airspace system—a system that currently boasts the world’s safest air traffic program and the lowest accident rate since 1938. Worse yet, a user fee will put money back into the FAA’s trust fund, giving another blank check to an organization with no cost controls, accountability, or clear road map for the future.
EAA Vice President of Government Relations Doug Macnair contends that any user fee program would damage the interests of aviation in the United States. “Even if they exempt some segment of general aviation but implement a user fee funding mechanism for the airlines or business aviation, we are against it,” he said. “It establishes a cumbersome new revenue generating system, and we believe it would only be a matter of time before general aviation would also be included. General aviation must hang together in a united front against this coordinated economic and political attack. If we permit ourselves to be segmented and divided we surely will be conquered.”
EAA, with the collective voice of 167,000 general aviators, will continue to be the united front fighting to keep flying affordable for all.
The budget extension would keep the lights on at the agency for another few months, but it leaves a lot of long-term FAA programs and projects in limbo because no one knows what the final FAA budget bill will include.
The House passed its version of the new FAA budget bill (H.R.2881) in September 2007, without any general aviation (GA) user fees. The Senate version of the bill (S.B.1300) stalled over the issue of user fees. In late April, a compromise between Senate committees removed GA user fees from S.B.1300, but the measure stalled again over labor provisions and other non-aviation issues. If passed, the bills would fund the FAA through 2011.
“General aviation user fees are currently off the table,” said Doug Macnair, EAA vice president of government relations. “But that victory is not secure. The airline industry and the administration continue to push for ATC user fees on general aviation aircraft. And the president has said he will veto any FAA funding bill that doesn’t include GA user fees.”
With the FAA budget bill stalled in the Senate, Congress will have to extend the FAA’s current funding again, possibly into 2009, Macnair said. Until Congress passes a new FAA funding bill, all kinds of FAA projects and programs are on hold, including much-needed ATC modernization.
Meanwhile, the airline industry continues to attack general aviation for its alleged failure to “pay its fair share.” A “policy brief” issued by the Air Transportation Association (ATA), the airlines’ lobbying arm, claims that “a Cessna Citation X corporate jet aircraft would contribute an estimated $306 to the Trust Fund” - presumably in aviation fuel taxes - “when it flies from New York to Los Angeles. An airline’s Boeing 757-200 aircraft flying the same route would contribute an estimated $2,660 to the Trust Fund.” Both planes, the policy brief alleges, make comparable demands on the ATC system but the Cessna’s “payment for ATC services” is far less, the ATA claims.
The airline industry’s argument ignores some important facts:
“General aviation pays its fair share,” said Macnair. “EAA will continue to fight hard against user fees and to encourage Congress to pass a sensible FAA funding bill.”
"EAA and the GA community will continue to fight against user fees and to urge Congress to pass a fair and responsible FAA funding bill," he added. "The voices of individual EAA members will continue to be an essential part of that effort."
• Congress Extends FAA Budget to September 30, 2009.
• The House passed legislation on Tuesday, September 23, 2008, while the Senate voted for the extension on Thursday to extend the agency’s existing budget through March 31, 2009.
EAA 100% Behind the 51-Percent Rule
EAA continues to reaffirm its support of the 51-percent rule, which states that for an aircraft to be inspected and certificated as an amateur-built experimental aircraft, the builder must complete the majority of the work. The amateur-built rules and regulations have not changed for more than five decades, which is a tribute to the leadership of EAA and its members.
The reason for this success is that EAA has established and maintained high standards and integrity while demonstrating appropriate respect for the boundaries of the amateur-built regulations (often referred to as the 51-percent rule because the homebuilder fabricates the majority of the aircraft themselves).
On July 15, 2008, the FAA published in the Federal Register its Official Notice of revised policies for interpretation and enforcement of the amateur-built aircraft regulations. These define the acceptable methods an amateur aircraft builder must follow during construction of an experimental amateur-built aircraft. (Follow this link to the document.) Public comments were due to the FAA by September 30, 2008.
• This policy statement addresses those FAA concerns by imposing more stringent oversight of amateur-built certification.
• The FAA’s “grandfathering” announcement in April was also reflected in the policy Notice. The agency declared that its new policies would not disqualify any aircraft kit that the FAA had already placed on its published list of approved amateur-built kit designs.
• The Notice calls for more stringent scrutiny of the construction processes, requiring the amateur builder to provide clear evidence of his or her hands-on contribution.
• The FAA’s proposal would require amateur builders to document not only that they performed a majority of the overall construction tasks but also that they executed a required proportion of tasks within two broad categories: assembly and fabrication.
According to the FAA’s proposal:
Ø At least 20% of total construction tasks must be fabrication done by the amateur;
Ø At least another 20% of total construction tasks must be assembly done by the amateur; and
Ø Another 11% or more of the total construction tasks must be work within either category done by the amateur, to ensure a total contribution to the construction project of at least 51%.
The EAA response (add link) asserts that this interpretation overreaches the language and intent of the original amateur building regulations, which do not specify percentages of tasks according to definitions of fabrication or assembly. It further asserts that the regulations’ vague definitions of these construction-task categories would make differentiating between them difficult.
Finally EAA’s statements encourage the FAA simply to focus on the isolated cases of some individuals – whether kit manufacturers, professional aircraft-construction service providers, or their customers – whose practices might circumvent the 51% Rule: “As EAA members and builders have stated, the FAA needs to enforce the current regulations, not create a new regulation through policy.”
EAA expects the final FAA 51% policy to be published in January 2009.
As EAA members, we must remember to protect the sanctity of the 51-percent rule in order to protect recreational aviation—and homebuilding specifically—as a responsible and safe activity.
As the threat of user fees for services such as air traffic control, licensing, and aircraft and pilot certification continues to loom over general aviation, EAA is leading the fight against them. EAA’s campaign to fend off general aviation user fees requires not only work at the national level with congress and the federal government, but also vigilance in the field at the grassroots level where the wrong precedent could allow user fees to get a foot in the door.
Such was the case on May 9, 2006, when EAA intervened on behalf of the Western Michigan Fly-In to ensure that FAA provided temporary air traffic control services for their June 24 event at Padgham Field in Allegan. Last year, an administrative error canceled the approved tower a week prior to the fly-in before EAA action had it reinstated.
This year, fly-in officials were informed that FAA would charge a $3,200 fee to set up and operate the tower for the one-day event. That’s when EAA Government Relations went to work on the issue, and within one business day had received assurances that a temporary tower and the controllers would be provided as part of FAA’s normal services with no charges to the fly-in.
EAA spoke with managers at both the FAA Great Lakes Regional Office and the Airspace and Procedures Branch Central Terminal Operations, and jointly resolved the issue. The FAA ultimately agreed that the fly-in is a nonprofit event designed to promote the airport and its activities to the local community, and that FAA shouldn’t charge community members a fee to enter the airport grounds for the fly-in.
At peak times during past fly-ins, Allegan Airport experienced up to 60 operations per hour, with as many as 300 Young Eagles flights throughout the day.
EAA is strongly opposed to user fees as a funding mechanism for any air traffic control services. Temporary towers are authorized “to provide for the safe ingress and egress for the aircraft involved and for maximizing flight and ground safety for the users and the spectators.”
In addition to its ongoing local efforts, EAA continues to work at the national level with FAA Air Traffic to ensure that future policies are adequate for coverage of these regional and national events.
Sport Pilot Rule Flying High
EAA has worked with government and the general-aviation community for 10 years to make sport pilot a reality. The result of that effort has been a 50% reduction in the cost of obtaining a pilot’s license, the availability of dozens of new certificated aircraft at 50% of the cost of previous entry-level certificated aircraft, and elimination of the cost and hassle of obtaining a medical certificate.
But EAA is never content to rest on its laurels. In fact, since the January 2005 implementation of the sport pilot rule, EAA has continued to promote this new category of aircraft and pilots by…
• Helping to achieve industry consensus standards via the ASTM process
• Promoting sport pilot’s potential to CFIs, and giving them tools for incorporating sport pilot into instructors’ training arsenal
• Using the Sport Pilot Tour to invigorate EAA chapters’ interest and begin spreading the word in the general-public and outdoor-enthusiast marketplace
• Reinforcing safety and security considerations
• Collaborating with manufacturers, flight schools, insurers, lenders, and training providers to help them market services for prospective sport pilots
• Advocating continued refinement and precision in defining the sport pilot rule
Moving forward, EAA will continue to work diligently toward expanding the possibilities available in the sport pilot community in order to bring the dream of recreational flight to those who wish to participate.
Setting the Standard
EAA pioneered the sport pilot movement not only to make becoming a pilot easier and to lower barriers to participation, but most importantly to reduce the cost of close government oversight and scrutiny. And much of the movement’s current success can be traced back to consensus standards.
Consensus standards are the result of industry peers working together to identify the right construction materials, processes, and techniques to uphold quality and safety in the sport pilot world. The use of such peer groups, all coordinated under the American for Testing and Materials Standards (ASTM), saves the sport pilot money as the traditional costs of government oversight are removed and, therefore, not passed on to the customer.
As EAA continues to spearhead the sport pilot movement, it recognizes the essential role of consensus standards in this new realm of aviation’s growth. But for this system to work, all participants in this growing industry must know, understand, and conform to the consensus standards.
To help spread the word, EAA is working closely with ASTM to draft standards-compliance checklists. EAA is also preparing communications for aircraft manufacturers, airframe-and-powerplant mechanics, and prospective light-sport aircraft buyers, urging them to remain vigilant in observing the standards. Disciplined adherence to consensus standards is the answer, and EAA is doing its part to make sure it works.
EAA Fights Costly Background Checks
Legislation being proposed in the state of New York would require anyone requesting flight or ground school instruction to pay for security background checks. Since the Federal government already performs these duties at no cost, EAA is asking its more than 13,000 New York members to write their elected representative and Governor George Pataki to voice their opposition to this unnecessary bill.
In late 2003, the state legislature proposed similar bills that were rejected, and EAA members were largely responsible for educating the state legislators of the existing FAA, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) laws. Now, elected officials are attempting to revive the criminal background check requirement even though federal laws haven’t changed.
“The federal government does not require criminal background checks prior to flight training,” said Randy Hansen, EAA government relations director. “They do require non-U.S. citizens to receive background checks if they meet the requirements of the DHS and TSA Flight School Security Awareness laws.
“The bottom line is that background checks required by New York House Bill A02122 are already superseded by existing Federal laws.” EAA plans to stay on top of this issue to make sure general aviation isn’t burdened with redundant legislation that increases the amount of time and money it takes to become a pilot.
Proposed Legislation Endangers Planes & Pilots
Two bills submitted in the U.S. Congress on July 12, 2006, would amend the Clean Air Act to require all gasoline sold for use in motor vehicles to contain 10 percent renewable fuel by the year 2010. These days, renewable fuel means ethanol. And that’s bad news because separate studies conducted by EAA, Cessna, and the FAA have proven that ethanol-blended fuels are harmful to recreational and general aviation aircraft and their fuel system components such as rubber lines, fuel pumps, rubber seals, and fuel tanks. Vapor lock is also a critical flight safety issue caused by the use of ethanol-blended auto fuel in aircraft engines.
In separate letters to Rep. Ralph M. Hall (R-TX), chairman, Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, and Senator James Inhofe (R-KS), chairman, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, EAA President Tom Poberezny made clear that such a move would jeopardize aviation safety. "Despite several attempts by EAA and others, all grades of ethanol-blended gasoline have not been able to meet the FAA flight safety fuel certification standards," he wrote.
Both bills (H.R. 4357 and Senate Bill 3553) exempt collector automobiles from the fuel mandate but don’t address or exempt other types of recreational vehicles, including aircraft. Nor do these bills provide a way for exempted operators to receive safer non-blended fuels. Gas station operators and gasoline distributors are also not encouraged to provide non-renewable blended fuel to “exempted” users.
EAA recommends two changes to the bills, which mirror recommendations EAA made to individual states that have considered renewable fuel mandates: Exempt unleaded premium grade gasoline with an antiknock index number of 91 or greater from the fuel mandate, and exempt all grades of aviation gasoline (i.e., avgas) from the requirements of the 10 percent renewable fuel mandate.
EAA also recommends the exemptions remain in place until the Department of Transportation can prove that the industry-chosen renewable fuel is safe to operate in the engines and fuel systems of all modes of recreational vehicles, aircraft, and other equipment.
Until the safety of all recreational aviators is taken into consideration, EAA won’t stop fighting legislation that puts them and their aircraft at risk.
Seeking a Cure for Medical Certification Issues
Medical certification for pilots has been a hot topic ever since EAA became the first general aviation organization to propose self-certification for several categories of pilot certificates in 1985. Now, as then, EAA strongly believes that medical self-certification will meet the demands of aviators without having a negative effect on aviation safety.
Over the years, EAA has continually urged the FAA to allow medical self-certification—first for the recreational pilot certificate, and then for the sport pilot certificate rules. EAA’s decade-long effort to make sport pilot a reality was focused, in many ways, on pilots being able to certify their fitness for flight, just as glider and balloon pilots have always done…and as millions of car and truck drivers do each day when they get behind the wheel.
“The history of this subject shows that EAA has consistently been the innovator and leader on the medical certification issues, from self-certification to clearing the special issuance backlog,” said Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president of industry and regulatory affairs.
EAA’s 1993 petition to the FAA for medical self-certification was the origin of the medical rules which are now included as a major part of today’s sport pilot rule. At that time, EAA noted that self-certification had been a part of the ultralight regulations since 1982, and there hadn’t been a single medical incapacitation accident that caused injury to persons or property in the decade that followed.
Although petitions by EAA requesting self-certification for people flying with a recreational pilot’s license were denied, EAA’s success with the sport pilot rule now gives the aviation community a chance to measure what, if any, effect medical self-certification has on accident rates. EAA is confident the evidence will show no difference between accident rates of pilots self-certified and those who regularly renew their Third-Class Medical certificates.
EAA’s Aeromedical Council, a group of aviation medical examiners who volunteer their time to assist on medical issues, has also advanced practical, common-sense solutions to the special issuance backlog. These proposals have spurred action from the FAA. Since the FAA has reduced the backlog whereby allowing more flexibility in the process.
Because medical certification is an issue that affects every pilot, EAA will continue to provide sensible solutions that promote both aviation participation and safety.
Membership Keeps Skies Free
Your membership in EAA is an investment in your love of aviation.
EAA’s Government Advocacy has a long tradition of working in partnership with the FAA for the benefit of EAA members and all involved in personal aviation. By dealing with government as a partner who is committed to solutions instead of as adversaries, EAA has been tremendously successful.
EAA membership protects your right to fly and helps keep the skies free for you and the next generation of aviators. Continue to enjoy this invaluable benefit by renewing your EAA membership today!
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