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EAA Government Advocacy

May 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.


The Hidden Price of Sequestration

When the federal budget sequestration standoff forced the government's hand in early March, nearly all the attention focused on the 200-plus control towers that could be affected by budget cutbacks. While idle control towers are certainly visible signs of a lack of progress in Washington, D.C. - and perhaps used by some as an easily identifiable sign of cutbacks - EAA members were divided over the situation. Those who rely on the towers were upset; others who rarely fly in controlled airspace were not as concerned.

There are, however, other ramifications from sequestration that could be much more bothersome to aviators in the coming weeks and months. By the Department of Transportation's own admission, those consequences are being shouldered by the GA community in a much greater manner than by other aviation areas. We in the EAA advocacy office are upset about it, because it will affect the way we fl y.

If the sequestration limits hold for a lengthy period, the delays or cutbacks might include:

  • Medical certification, especially special issuances (another good reason to approve the EAA/AOPA third-class medical certification exemption request).
  • Field approvals of maintenance items.
  • Certification of new aviation products coming to the marketplace.
  • Research and testing of new fuels to replace 100LL.
  • Certification of homebuilt aircraft or re-registration of aircraft.

These are the items that would impact nearly every pilot, because it affects safety, jobs, and your ability to fl y when you want. In some of these areas, delays are already a problem for the FAA. Even if you're one of those who believes that the FAA is more of a personal hindrance than help, it remains the nation's regulatory authority for aviation.

The longer-term effects of budget sequestration on the normal administration of aviation regulations and processes are what concern us the most. It's a point we continually make when we're talking with FAA or congressional lawmakers, because it would directly affect how you fl y. We in aviation, as in many parts of American society, deserve to have a solution that makes our government work for us.

Drones, UAVs, and Keeping Airspace Open

An emerging hot-button item for general aviation is the presence and control of unmanned aerial vehicles, which include everything from military observation units, to local police "eyes in the sky," to privately owned units used for a variety of purposes. It's a complex issue, with aviation safety, national security, personal privacy, and a host of other ramifications in the mix.

While EAA and other aviation organizations are still sorting the complexities of this multifaceted issue, we continue to make one thing abundantly clear: Any expansion of airspace used for unmanned vehicles should not come at the expense of airspace available for GA aircraft. As the FAA holds ultimate authority over the national airspace system, EAA emphasizes that the availability and safety of airspace for all users is paramount.

A number of communities throughout the country are considering their own ordinances that would limit the use of unmanned aerial vehicles by local agencies, such as law enforcement. That is within a community's rights to do so. EAA will remain vigilant, however, to ensure that well-meaning regulations governing use of UAVs do not evolve into local airspace restrictions or "no-fly zones," as federal pre-emption continues to prohibit a possible patchwork of local laws and confusion for pilots.

FAA Opens Doors to EAA at GA Summit

After budget sequestration limits blocked FAA officials from attending the annual EAA/FAA winter summit in Oshkosh this year, EAA's advocacy staff did the next best thing: They ventured en masse to Washington, D.C., on April 8-9 to meet with top FAA officials on a variety of GA issues.

Those discussions were positive and productive, and sometimes remarkably frank. EAA's unique collaborative working relationship with government agencies gives us the ability to bring these topics to the table in a way that seeks solutions.

Among the key issues were:

  • Warbird concerns such as life-limited parts, inspection programs, and use of designees - where EAA left with a high degree of optimism that positive results for warbird owners will soon follow.
  • Designated pilot examiners (DPEs) for vintage aircraft.
  • Funding for unleaded aviation fuel research, where FAA continues to support the creation of a fuels office and unleaded fuel evaluation and certification process within the agency.
  • EAA's response to the NTSB on amateur-built safety, urging education over regulation to improve the safety rate. The FAA agrees with that approach.

EAA met with officials ranging from FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to individual division managers, all aimed at representing EAA members and removing barriers on their behalf. We'll be sure to share with you the specific progress on all the major issues as the agreed-to solutions become finalized this year.

Sean Elliott

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

EAA is Committed to Advocacy

Sean Elliott and Melissa Rudinger
Top EAA staff meet with senior FAA executives in Washington, D.C.,
at the 2013 EAA/FAA aviation summit.

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

EAA has a very long-standing legacy of protecting the freedoms of flight and working closely with the FAA in doing so. From Paul Poberezny's initial work with the then-CAA nearly 60 years ago, EAA's belief is that working with the agency to find collaborative solutions yields better results. EAA advocacy continues down that path and is more committed than ever to create opportunities that lower barriers and protect the freedoms that we all enjoy in experimental aviation.

One example is that each year, EAA hosts a winter summit in Oshkosh with senior executives of FAA. This is our annual opportunity to discuss overarching strategy with the agency and brainstorm how we might solve strategic challenges together. The summit also provides an environment to work out tactical issues currently affecting our members with the FAA managers and leaders directly responsible for those areas, and doing it while we are all together in the same room. The EAA/FAA winter summit has been taking place each year since 2001 and is a very valuable tool for both groups.

A few months ago, we all started hearing about "sequestration" and potential government budget impacts if our elected representatives could not agree on a solution. One of those impacts was on the annual EAA/FAA summit scheduled for early March. Unfortunately, all FAA staff travel for non-safety-critical functions was suspended. The agency was very disappointed that it could not make the annual Oshkosh meeting, and so were we. How would we keep this vital in-person contact with FAA leadership going?

We reviewed our options with FAA officials and decided if they couldn't come to us, we're going to them! EAA staff members traveled to Washington, D.C., in early April to ensure that the annual summit meeting took place after all. EAA is privileged to have this annual one-on-one, an opportunity hard-won by decades of advocacy work on behalf of our members and because of our longtime collaborative working relationship. The meeting is simply too important to allow it to fall by the wayside as another victim of budget cuts.

EAA will continue to raise your issues with the FAA in person, regardless of the location. This summit is one of the annual opportunities to put your concerns front and center with the FAA! We'll be updating you on the results in the coming weeks.

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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