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EAA Government Advocacy

April 2013

Government Relations Briefings

Government Relations Archive

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.


EAA Advocacy Is Important. You Said So.

Since the start of the year, EAA headquarters has surveyed hundreds of our fellow members about the things that are most essential to them. This in-depth survey, along with the regular feedback we receive from members, helps form the direction of EAA to reflect what members want in their organization.

One of the items that stood out was the importance of our advocacy and safety efforts. Government advocacy and safety education were among the leading reasons people joined and remained members of EAA-two-thirds of you said so. Even more impressive was that the advocacy efforts were listed among the top two ways that EAA can help aviation enthusiasts live their aviation life to the fullest.

Another striking result of the survey was the positive response to how EAA advocacy efforts are pursued. EAA's philosophy of working toward collaborative solutions and engaging government agencies, lawmakers, other GA groups, and the entire aviation community were highly praised.

EAA members tell us that advocacy is important and our methods are effective. Federal agencies comment that EAA is among the most respected aviation organizations because of our ability to bring ideas and work toward solutions. We appreciate the vote of confidence from both sides, and it motivates us to work even harder in our advocacy efforts to grow participation in aviation.

Government Host Team Returns to AirVenture

When EAA welcomes dozens of government officials to AirVenture Oshkosh each year, the 17 members of our volunteer government host team provide invaluable assistance to the advocacy staff. The team, which is composed of former public employees with strong ties to government agencies and general aviation, acts as a welcoming committee, tour group, and GA advocate to visiting government officials.

"We look forward every year to the opportunity to promote EAA's message to returning and fi rst-time government official attendees," said Barry Valentine, former acting administrator of the FAA and government host chairman. "We have had the pleasure of hosting prime ministers and princes, secretaries and senators. We hope our message is being carried to Washington and the other capitals of the world."

Part of the host team's success is due to its depth of experience: The average member has served on the team for more than 14 years. All of last year's members will return this year, and they will be joined by a familiar face: Randy Hansen, who recently retired as EAA's director of government relations.

"The fact that the team members come back year after year is a testament to their love of EAA and their commitment to carrying the message of general aviation," Valentine said.

EAA's Advocacy and Safety department recently published the first issue of a new monthly newsletter for the government host team. The newsletter is designed to keep team members informed about the major projects, events, and initiatives the department is undertaking on a monthly basis.

"Year-round, monthly communication works wonders for keeping the team engaged during the AirVenture off-season," said Sean Elliott, vice president of advocacy and safety. "It also gives us a venue to express how much we truly value and appreciate the team's efforts."

Welcome to Jonathan Harger

Jonathan HargerEAA Advocacy and Safety welcomed a new government advocacy specialist to the team in February. Jonathan Harger came to the department after working with member services for the past several months.

"We are excited to have Jon as the newest member of the EAA government advocacy team in Oshkosh," said Sean Elliott, vice president of advocacy and safety. "Jon is both a talented writer and strong advocate for grassroots aviation."

Jonathan's duties include working closely with EAA members seeking airport advice and aeromedical special issuances. He also acts as staff liaison to the Legal Advisory Council and will coordinate the Federal Pavilion during AirVenture Oshkosh.

Jonathan is a private pilot who previously worked as sales manager at an avionics startup firm. He has a lifelong passion for aviation and a strong desire to work on preserving and promoting the right to fly.

ELT Issue Heats Up - Again

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), at the urging of federal agencies with aeronautical search and rescue responsibility, has proposed to prohibit the manufacture and sale of new 121.5 MHz emergency locator transmitters (ELTs). These older ELTs have not been monitored by the search and rescue satellite system since 2009.

For 20 years the SAR community has been pressing for a mandated change to 406 MHz ELTs, a move that has been staunchly opposed by EAA and other aviation organizations. Even the FAA has been on record as recently as last year that it did not support such a mandate.

In a meeting at the end of February between FCC personnel and GA representative organizations it was made clear that not only did the FCC intend to ban the future manufacture and sale of new 121.5 MHz ELTs, but that it was also contemplating an outright ban on the use of the older technology ELTs in the final rule, despite no mention of this in the proposal.

The comment period was originally due to close on March 1, but EAA and several other associations petitioned for an extension citing the need for more time to evaluate the impact of the proposal, particularly in light of the possibility of an outright ban on the use of 121.5 MHz ELTs. The new comment period deadline is April 1 with an additional 45 days to reply to any other comments in the docket.

EAA remains patently opposed to a mandated transition from 121.5 MHz to 406 MHz ELTs and is working in coordination with all of the major aviation associations to oppose this sweeping and veiled proposal. The general aviation community is united in its opposition.

While EAA ardently opposes any regulatory mandate to force the wholesale replacement of older ELTs, we strongly encourage our members, when confronted with the need to repair or replace a 121.5 MHz ELT, to do so with modern 406 MHz or multiband ELTs that are being actively monitored by the search and rescue community.

Sean Elliott

The Final Word - Sean Elliott, EAA Vice President of Advocacy and Safety

Making 'Stronger Together' Even Better

On February 28 in Washington, D.C., members of the government teams of EAA and AOPA met in person to discuss even more opportunities to work together. EAA Chairman Jack Pelton and AOPA CEO Craig Fuller began by renewing the commitment of both organizations to seek out more opportunities to jointly represent general aviation. Craig has set the AOPA tone on this cooperative eff ort, even as he has announced his departure from that organization at the end of 2013. The two groups reviewed many current initiatives, including the joint third-class medical petition.

Sean Elliott and Melissa Rudinger
EAA's Sean Elliott and AOPA's Melissa Rudinger in front of the tail of EAA’s B-17 Aluminum Overcast after a flight shared by both government teams during AirVenture 2011.

It wasn't just talk, though - we left the meeting with timelines and action items. The top three identified areas for collaboration are:

  • Third-class EAA/AOPA medical petition
  • User fees and the ongoing efforts to prevent them
  • Avgas and the recommendations of the ARC

It was a productive day that showed what the two organizations can do when their complementing strengths are used together. Many of you have shared how much you appreciate seeing the two largest general aviation organizations come together and stand up for the betterment of GA. I have personally witnessed the positive impact when AOPA and EAA sit together in front of regulators with a concern over a given policy or proposed regulation. The atmosphere is more focused, the level of attention to concerns is greater, and the results are usually significant. We collectively represent a very high percentage of the entire GA community!

Perhaps the most significant outcome of our Washington visit was an agreement to take the next step and formalize the ad hoc communication that is already happening on a daily basis by having both government teams meet in person on an annual basis, and by teleconference more frequently than that. This is a terrific next step. It will allow us to bring even more structure to our partnership and ensure even a higher degree of results from advocacy within both organizations. This is "Stronger Together" at its best!

EAA and AOPA have much at stake moving forward, and so do you. GA is facing many challenges ahead. If we are to prevail as a community and reverse the negative trends of the industry, we must continually seek out a stronger collective voice on the most difficult issues. We all want to see our kids and grandkids have access to the same magical aviation world that has so shaped our lives throughout the years. I can't even imagine a world without general aviation. Can you?

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.

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