EAA Government Advocacy
Comment Period Open for Medical Exemption Request
Now is the time to make your voice heard - The exemption request filed by EAA and AOPA pertaining to third-class medical certificates has been officially posted by the federal government, making it possible for the public to submit comments on the proposal.
FAA Clarifies ADs for Experimentals
EAA and experimental category aircraft owners have waited a long time for this good news: On March 12, the FAA published an updated advisory circular (AC) 39-7D on airworthiness directives (ADs) reinforcing FAA HQs policy that ADs do not apply to non-type certificated aircraft and TC’d equipment installed on those aircraft, unless specifically referenced in the applicability section of the AD. Experimental aircraft owners are still responsible for addressing any known unsafe condition on their aircraft that might be raised by an AD in a manner best applicable to their installation.
This issue has been on EAA’s “Top 10” list of advocacy issues and part of the agenda at the last three annual EAA/FAA Recreational Aviation Summits. The absence of FAA headquarters’ guidance had created a patchwork of regional policies that varied and at times conflicted with each other.
“This is an outcome that is the result of many hours of hard work and EAA’s insistence that ADs do not apply to experimental aircraft,” said Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of advocacy and safety. “It clears a great deal of confusion by setting a consistent FAA policy.”
The circular also retained FAA’s option to include experimental category aircraft in an AD, but it must clearly state that inclusion. Examples may include an emergency AD involving an immediate safety of flight issue or products that may be installed on both type certificated and non-type-certificated aircraft, such as aircraft engines, propellers, and similar products.
Although the release of the AC provides some clarification, EAA will continue to work with the FAA to further define and clarify AD applicability to experimental aircraft.
Summit Brings EAA, FAA Face-to-Face on Safety
EAA and the FAA have constant communications throughout the year through countless one-on-one meetings, industry gatherings, and teleconferences. EAA, however, has a unique connection with the nation’s aviation agency through two opportunities to meet face-to-face in working-group settings that really get things done.
One of those events, of course, is EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, but just as important is the annual Recreational Aviation Summit held at the EAA Aviation Center each winter. As EAA Vice President of Advocacy and Safety Sean Elliott said, “In working with the FAA’s top people, we look for, and fi nd, solutions instead of making outright demands, and all come out winners.”
Safety, how to measure it and how to improve it, led the agenda for this year’s summit. Much of the discussion focused on amateur-built aircraft operations and how the FAA and EAA can continue to work together to enhance safety without needlessly restricting the freedom of innovation that is key to amateur-built aircraft. The safety record of amateur-built aircraft is improving by several measures, but there are areas where more progress is needed. How to track safety trends in a reliable way, and show positive improvement in the record, is a primary objective for both the FAA and EAA in the coming year.
Among the top FAA officials at the session in Oshkosh were Tony Fazio, director of the Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention; John Allen, director of Flight Standards; and Dorenda Baker, director of Aircraft Certification. EAA’s contingent was led by President/CEO Rod Hightower and EAA Founder Paul Poberezny.
Other issues on the agenda included sport pilot and light-sport aircraft, unleaded avgas, warbird operating limitations and exemptions, vintage aircraft repair approvals, and more. The winter summit in Oshkosh also serves as an excellent six-month review on issues discussed at AirVenture the previous summer and ensures continual communication between EAA and FAA at the highest levels.
Experimental Amateur-Built Survey: Technical Review
Throughout 2011, EAA and the NTSB conducted a survey of experimental amateur-built (E-AB) aircraft to evaluate the safety of this growing and innovative segment of general aviation. Last month, EAA’s Doug Macnair and David Oord met with the NTSB in Washington, D.C., to review survey results and a draft safety study.
EAA supported the study by conducting a Web-based survey of E-AB owners and builders. More than 5,000 E-AB owners and builders responded to EAA’s survey, and 4,923 of these responses were sufficiently complete to use in analyses.
As part of the study, NTSB investigators conducted in-depth investigations of 221 E-AB aircraft accidents that occurred during 2011. Fifty-four of these accidents resulted in 67 fatalities. Most of these accidents (93 percent) involved amateur-built airplanes; the remaining accidents involved gyroplanes (4 percent), helicopters (2 percent), and gliders (1 percent). More than half (53 percent) of the E-AB accidents investigated in 2011 involved E-AB aircraft that were purchased used, as opposed to having been built by the current owner.
The final safety study, along with recommendations to improve safety, is scheduled to be released in May.
EAA Report to Homebuilders
The annual EAA report to Homebuilders was released in March, giving the GA community a broad overview of the amateur-built aircraft fleet, updates on safety, and the resources available through EAA to those who are building their own aircraft.
The eight-page report includes comprehensive facts, charts, and other data that clarifies the homebuilt movement and the true safety record of these aircraft.
“The EAA Report to Homebuilders highlights the achievements of the past year, as well as the opportunities and challenges ahead of us,” EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower said in the introductory note to this year’s edition.
Safety - Everyone has a Stake
The FAA will tell you that safety is a culture, one that is embraced and engrained in the best pilots. The FAA-designed safety management systems (SMS) of today certainly support that philosophy with tools that reinforce those concepts. Within the EAA community, I would offer that EAA and its membership have the opportunity to take safety to an even higher level, that of a lifestyle. More than just using safety tools, if we are going to truly improve the safety record within our segment of aviation, we have to reach the unreachable. That means each of us seeking the lifestyle behaviors that reflect safe operations and actively influencing those who do not.
In this issue of Sport Aviation, you will find some information that might help with the quest to be safe. One of them is an excellent analysis of fatal accidents within the amateur-built (AB) aircraft world. EAA member Ron Wanttaja has made a in-depth analysis of trends and causal factors based on his own decade-long database of every amateur-built accident. His conclusions are certainly a basis for discussion and offer a well-documented perspective as we continue to study ways to enhance safety in homebuilt aircraft.
Let’s not forget EAA’s existing programs and support materials that greatly contribute to safe flight. Certainly the Flight Advisor and Technical Counselor programs continue to show builders and would-be test pilots how to approach the tasks at hand in the most professional and safe way possible. Even if you are not planning a first flight, Flight Advisor guidance can be great for getting you much more knowledgeable with your airplane.
Transition and recurrent training is perhaps our biggest opportunity to improve safety. Have you checked out the FAA Advisory Circular, AC 90-109, on that very topic? EAA coauthored this new FAA publication, and it is a very comprehensive look at how to approach flying a new type of aircraft in a competent and effective way.
Flying safely is up to each and every one of us. We all have a stake in doing so. While your organization can help provide resources and materials, only you can live the “safe” lifestyle and encourage others to follow your lead. Our future depends on it.
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 55-year history of success is a testament to that philosophy.