EAA Government Advocacy
EAA continues to work hard on these issues and others of importance to EAA members and other aviators. There is strength in numbers, not only in EAA member participation but also in joining with other aviation groups and important allies such as the general aviation caucuses in the House and Senate.
- FAA Lauds EAA, Members for Response on Safety
- A Win for Seaplane Pilots
- EAA Works to Investigate Factors in Deadly Accidents
When the general aviation safety figures for the first two months of the federal fiscal year were compiled in late November, the FAA was concerned. There had been a significant increase in the total of GA fatal accidents overall, as well as those involving amateur-built aircraft.
Any notable jump in accident figures is a cause for action. An increased accident rate, in general aviation or among homebuilts, causes closer scrutiny of the flying community and the potential for additional regulations. EAA has always maintained that education is a more effective long-term solution than regulation, and feedback has shown us that members agree.
So, when FAA officials asked GA groups to spread the word about this uptick in accidents, EAA made sure members knew about the increase and stressed the need to continually focus on safety. While the probable causes of the October and November 2012 accidents won't be known until FAA and NTSB investigations are completed, the court of opinion and politics often doesn't wait that long.
EAA told members on December 5, "It is essential that all GA pilots take a close look at their operations and make sure they are not assuming new or unnecessary risks." The FAA is not looking at any specific action in response to the higher accident rate, but an early alert on such matters is the key to maintaining awareness on safety.
The FAA appreciated EAA's immediate response and action. The following week, a senior top-level FAA official called EAA Chairman of the Board Jack Pelton personally to thank EAA and its members for their attention to safety. The official told Pelton that actions such as these show why EAA has a high reputation among aviation officials in Washington and there is a collaborative working relationship.
We'll take agencies, the FAA included, to task anytime when there is a threat to our freedoms of flight. When it comes to safety, though, everyone agrees that it's priority No. 1. All of our efforts to emphasize safety will work to our benefit with policymakers.
In mid-December, New Mexico state agencies dropped a plan to ban seaplane and floatplane operations in state parks, which include most of the usable waterways for aviation in that state. A big credit goes to EAA members for their efforts.
Seaplane pilots noted that New Mexico waterways were needed for safety and operational reasons. The New Mexico State Parks Division reported that the new rule announced this month would not include any ban on seaplanes after receiving "hundreds of comments opposing the implementation of this rule" and there are already federal regulations regarding such operations.
EAA joined with AOPA, the Seaplane Pilots Association, user newsgroups, and individuals to help educate New Mexico officials on the negative effect of their proposed action. That combined effort meant a win for aviation.
In January, EAA participated in the third meeting of General Aviation Joint Steering Committee's Second Loss of Control (LOC) Working Group. The Working Group was created to investigate the factors involved in fatal GA accidents resulting from the pilot's loss of control of the aircraft during departure and en route phases of flight and propose intervention strategies to reduce the accident rate. It is a collaboration of the FAA, NTSB, industry groups, type clubs, and academia.
The First LOC Working Group dealt similarly with these accidents during approach and landing and finished its work in April 2012. This second iteration of the group began meeting this past September.
"Loss of control is by far the most common factor in fatal accidents," said EAA Government Advocacy Specialist Tom Charpentier, who attended the January meeting. "We are confident that by the end of this process we will develop meaningful ways to help pilots be safer, from effective education on aeronautical decision-making to affordable access to safety-enhancing technology. Investigating these accidents is a sobering task, but it is also rewarding to know that our efforts will hopefully save lives."
EAA's Government Relations department works 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 by providing clear solutions and practical alternatives backed by hard work and dedication. EAA’s history of success is a testament to that philosophy.