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EAA Government Advocacy

August 2013

Your Voice Counts! EAA, AOPA Urge Survey Participation for Medical Exemption


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.


Industry-Wide Evaluation of Unleaded Avgas Begins

In late June, the FAA issued a call for candidate unleaded aviation fuels to be submitted to the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI). This marks the beginning of coordinated industry-wide testing and evaluation of potential unleaded replacements for 100 low-lead avgas. PAFI is a process designed by the aviation and petroleum industry, along with aircraft owner groups including EAA, to evaluate the technical, environmental, and economic merits of candidate high-octane unleaded fuels. The program is intended to provide a level playing field for testing and evaluating fuels using a common set of industry-recognized methodologies, equipment, and test facilities. It will fairly and completely identify the best possible unleaded alternatives to 100LL.

While the aviation industry has long acknowledged that an unleaded avgas is desirable, finding a workable unleaded replacement has proven difficult. Most significant is the realization that a replacement fuel will not be a "drop-in" solution, thus requiring the recertification of the existing fleet of GA aircraft to one degree or another. As a result, the FAA program will assess the viability of each candidate fuel in terms of impact upon the existing fleet, as well as production and distribution infrastructure, environment and toxicology, and economic considerations.

The PAFI process and reliance upon the technical resources and expertise of the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center for actual testing provide a unique and necessary opportunity for an apples-to-apples approach to evaluating the various candidate fuels. To date, unleaded alternative fuels have been tested by individual companies and sponsoring organizations using proprietary test equipment and methodologies. That process does not lead to the industry-wide acceptance and adoption necessary for a replacement aviation gasoline to be produced, distributed, and certified for use across the entire general aviation fleet.

The PAFI process is acknowledged by engine and airframe manufacturers, petroleum and chemical producers and distributors, and fixed base operators to be a critical path for evaluating and bringing to market any broadly viable unleaded replacement for 100LL. EAA is a member of the steering group overseeing and administering the PAFI process and strongly supports the FAA's leadership and funding of this crucial effort for the future of general aviation.

EAA/AOPA Medical Petition

EAA and AOPA are still waiting for an official reaction from the FAA on the third-class medical petition submitted in March 2012. The petition generated more comments from the public than any other petition to the FAA in history. It seeks to allow private pilots or better to use a driver's license and self-certification in lieu of a third-class medical to fly aircraft with a fixed gear, maximum of four seats, and maximum of 180-hp engines.

The organizations received indications that the FAA was looking for more data regarding the rate of medically related incidents for sport pilots flying legally without a third-class medical, so EAA and AOPA quickly created a confidential survey targeting these pilots. All sport pilots are encouraged to participate in the survey.

The goal of presenting the survey results to the FAA is to further demonstrate with data what EAA and AOPA have argued all along; the most important medical certification, especially among recreational pilots, is an honest pre-flight self-certification - regardless if the pilot holds a first-class medical or is flying with a driver's license.

"We've had an active LSA community for nearly a decade, happily and safely flying with no third-class medical requirement," said Sean Elliott, vice president of EAA advocacy and safety. "Now we are hoping to translate that excellent medical safety record into increased GA flexibility. We're excited that one day soon, pilots could fl y day-VFR, single-engine, non-complex aircraft without what is often the expensive and discouraging burden of FAA medical certification."

The FAA does not have a timeline for considering the petition or a deadline by which it must deliver a response, and neither EAA nor AOPA have received an estimate of when the FAA will issue a decision. EAA advocacy and safety leaders hope that strong participation in the online survey and robust data collection supporting the petition will persuade the FAA to adopt the recommendations of the petition quickly. "Driver's licenses and self-certification just make sense for many of our recreational pilot members," Elliott added. "We cannot fathom a reason why a lifelong pilot can legally and safely fly a Piper Cub without a medical, but a 152 is off-limits. The EAA/AOPA petition simplifies the issue and provides a common-sense and safe alternative to the current system."

Sean Elliott

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

Just Because You Think You Can Doesn't Mean You Should

The FAA's recent action of charging EAA for air traffic services at AirVenture remains an open issue for EAA and all of general aviation. As an initial step, EAA garnered support from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, who told the FAA that it should not be assessing these charges and indeed is responsible for providing the services necessary to ensure a safe National Airspace System. To date, the response from the FAA - even to Congress - has been near silence. It is time for the community to take the next step.

On July 3, EAA filed a petition in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, challenging the FAA's authority to impose those charges. EAA contends that Congress specifically authorizes funding for all FAA functions, including air traffic services. Congress also identifies specific aviation taxes (in GA's case, fuel taxes) to fund these services. To specifically identify activities such as AirVenture as not funded and require payment for these services is an augmentation of appropriated funds already designated for the agency. A federal agency is not allowed to do that, unless specifically authorized by Congress.

By filing this petition, EAA is asking a court to rule on the legality of the FAA's new policy of assessing aviation events for ATC services. Let me be clear: We understand the effects of sequestration on federal activities. This is not an indictment of the work that FAA employees do every day in conjunction with EAA and other GA groups to make aviation better and safer. We do not blame them. And neither should you. Our issue now in the courts is whether a federal agency, unilaterally and without congressional authorization, can decide who and what it can charge for services. This goes beyond AirVenture, or even aviation, to the core of how the federal government is funded and operates. The system the FAA is proposing, if carried out elsewhere in government, would lead to a chaotic and entirely unpredictable system of fees for services by every federal agency.

Even as EAA seeks clarity from the courts, we must and will continue to work with the FAA on joint safety initiatives and the betterment of experimental and general aviation. We still have much work to do with our colleagues at the FAA who care about aviation as much as you and I do. We will continue to work diligently with the FAA on those initiatives while challenging the unauthorized and unjustified charges that are part of a much larger political standoff in Washington.

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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