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.
- Third-Class Medical Exemption: So What's Going On?
- EAA Reports Progress on NTSB Recommendations
- EAA Members Must Urge Caucus Membership
- The Final Word: Members Helping Members - Our Aeromedical Council
It's been slightly more than five months since the FAA's extended public comment period closed for the EAA/AOPA third-class medical certificate exemption request. The new year brought an increased frequency of the questions: What's going on? When will we hear something? What's the holdup?
The FAA is now reviewing the public comments it received - a nearly unprecedented total of more than 16,000. That will take some time, during which the agency is not allowed to make what are called "ex parte" statements, which are those made on the merits of a request or petition without advance notice or only to one party. Thus, FAA officials are not allowed to individually update the status except to say that the comments are being reviewed.
The FAA has never set a specific timeline for a final determination or announcement on the EAA/AOPA request. It's understandable to be anxious about when an announcement will be made, especially when one is considering how much to fl y or whether to purchase an airplane in the coming months. It's important, however, that all the feedback be adequately reviewed.
There is no "holdup" of the process; it is going through the prescribed channels for such a request. EAA and AOPA officials maintain that this approach provides an equivalent level of safety while also giving more opportunities for aviators to engage in flying. The request is also an important first step in a discussion to modernize the medical certification system.
The FAA could approve the request in its entirety, approve portions of the request, or reject it completely. Even if the request is approved in its entirety, it will still take some time to develop the online course that pilots who fl y recreationally will be required to complete in order to evaluate their own condition to fl y and do so without a third-class medical certificate.
Some have suggested writing to Congress, but that will not speed the outcome. It may, in fact, slow a final decision as FAA personnel take time away from the review process to respond to congressional inquiries.
We are all eager to learn the FAA's final decision and, hopefully, move forward with the opportunities the EAA/AOPA exemption request would provide. Sometimes good things take time, and we're hoping that time spent now will give pilots more choices in the future.
EAA Chairman of the Board Jack Pelton submitted a letter to NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman detailing progress on the NTSB's four recommendations to EAA for improving the safety of homebuilt aircraft. These recommendations are part of a May 2012 safety study, The Safety of Experimental Amateur-Built Aircraft. These recommendations, in most cases, targeted EAA safety initiatives that had already been under way.
EAA has already completed one of the recommendations with the publication of a list of Letter of Deviation Authority holders. Pelton noted that EAA is working with the FAA to expand the availability of quality transition training, and develop a protocol by which a second pilot may accompany the pilot in command during Phase 1 testing.
The formation of the Type Club Coalition (TCC) and its website begins to satisfy a second recommendation. The TCC will create and promote transition-training resources and best practices for flight operations with each type of aircraft, with written materials expected later this year. The coalition has enjoyed an enthusiastic response and now encompasses 22 member organizations. In response to the NTSB's recommendation that EAA support and promote flight-test training, Pelton outlined plans for an online flight-test course currently in development, as well as efforts to both improve the Flight Advisor and Technical Counselor programs and explore the possibility of kit manufacturers off erring guidance on flight-test procedures. The letter also cited EAA's recently expanded Advocacy and Safety section in Sport Aviation.
EAA expressed concern over the cost and liability implications of the recommendation to promote the use of electronic data recording in homebuilt aircraft. The NTSB may be overestimating the prevalence of instrumentation capable of supporting such data collection in E-AB aircraft. Nevertheless, EAA is willing to support the development of standards for electronic data recording in a way that is beneficial and not burdensome to builders.
"EAA is deeply committed to continually improving the safety and personal and recreational aviation activities in all its forms and particularly that of amateur-built aircraft and their related activities," Pelton wrote. "We appreciate the respectful and collaborative relationship we share with the National Transportation Safety Board members and staff. We believe that this relationship and our mutual desire for improved safety while fostering and enabling the freedoms of personal flight can lead to meaningful and measurable improvement."
As the 113th Congress settles in on Capitol Hill, the House and Senate General Aviation caucuses need the support of existing and new members for what is going to be a crucial session of Congress for GA. EAA is asking our members to reach out to their representatives and senators, urging their active support of the GA Caucus. To make this easier, EAA is unveiling a new tool called Rally Congress to facilitate this outreach.
The 2012 election brought a series of retirements and changes in party that meant approximately 40 members of the two caucuses are not returning to Washington this year. That means that new members need to be encouraged to join the caucus, which helps spread the word on issues of importance to sport and recreational aviation as well as general aviation as a whole. The caucus has been instrumental in helping us defeat user fee proposals and pass important legislation such as the Pilot's Bill of Rights and residential through-the-fence agreement language, and to defeat the LightSquared proposal that would have interfered with aeronautical GPS signals.
In the House, the GA Caucus is led by co-chairmen Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri) and Rep. John Barrow (D-Georgia). In the Senate, the GA Caucus is co-chaired by Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska).
Visit www.eaa.org/rallycongress, where you'll find a letter to send to lawmakers urging them to join the GA Caucus in their respective chambers and highlighting the economic and societal importance of general aviation to the nation. The website also includes a list of the current GA Caucus members.
The Final Word - Sean Elliott, EAA Vice President of Advocacy and Safety
Members Helping Members - Our Aeromedical Council
The EAA Aeromedical Advisory Council consists of six aviation medical examiners from throughout the country. Doctors Stephen Leonard, Jack Hastings, Greg Pinnell, John Owen, Richard Garrison, and John Raniolo are all volunteers with a unified goal in mind - to help fellow EAA members. From the simplest of medical questions to the more complex special issuance process, our EAA staff works with the council to provide member assistance. This service is provided to you at no additional charge.
It is truly members helping members! Member services are not the only area where they are engaged. For more than 20 years, this council has been perhaps the most significant industry medical group interacting with the FAA on all aviation medical issues. Many of the council members know the federal air surgeon personally, and regularly interact with him and several other senior-ranking FAA staff members. Our council participates at annual events with specialized organizations such as Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA), Civil Aviation Medical Association (CAMA), and others. These physicians truly are representing you and EAA at all levels within the aviation medical community.
Over the past year, the EAA Aeromedical Advisory Council has been more closely connected to the work within the EAA advocacy department. This brings the group full circle, in a way, as many years ago the council was very much a part of EAA's government efforts. As I know the members of the council better, I can share with you that these docs are true EAAers at heart and are really passionate about grassroots aviation. Doing the work they do on your behalf is a top priority, and it is also clearly what they love to do. We are very fortunate to have the Aeromedical Advisory Council within EAA. Over the next year, I am also confident you will see significant changes/improvements to the aviation medical process that are a result of their work with the FAA. Stay tuned for more details.
EAA's Aeromedical Advisory Council, another great example of members helping members in the true spirit of EAA!
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.