One of the more interesting events (most years) that takes
places at each rendition of the annual Oshkosh aerial get-together
is the chance to listen to, and then grill/question/cajole info
from the current FAA Boss. This year was no different...
In his opening remarks, FAA's Acting Admin, Bobby Sturgell's
low-key, affable nature played well to the middling crowd at the
2008 forum... which was a far cry from the packed houses Blakey
drew during her tenure, with several rows of seating in the Honda
Pavilion left empty. But Sturgell -- himself an accomplished
military and commercial pilot, another difference from his former
boss -- knew how to appeal to that audience.
After allowing other FAA personnel in attendance to introduce
themselves (which led to a good-natured game of "whose ties to GA
are strongest?" during their intros) Sturgell paid heed to the four
winners of the FAA's General Aviation Awards Program for 2008: CFI
Max Trescott, FAAST Team Member John Teipen, Maintenance Technician
Mike Busch, and Avionics Technician Tim Adkison, who received their
honors Wednesday night at a Theater in the Woods presentation.
Sturgell then got down to business, giving EAA members some
insight into his position on the so-called "51 percent" rule, and
the FAA's efforts to modify it.
"As you know, we've got a proposed policy change for
homebuilts," Sturgell said. "It's come to our attention that some
companies may be skirting the letter of the law by selling a kit
that requires nothing more than two turns of a screwdriver. For
safety's sake, we just can't allow that. It's not right, and it
circumvents the very safeguards that are put in place to protect
everyone in the system.
Sturgell also addressed proposed changes to the light-sport
aircraft rule, and implored anyone with comments on the current
NPRM to weigh in. "Your feedback is vital to keeping the Light
Sport rule on course," he said. "We want to hear from you before
the comment period closes on August 13."
The administrator then turned his attention to matters of
interest to the pilot community as a whole -- the need for better
measures to prevent runway incursions, and recent FAA changes to
terms of first-and-third-class medicals for pilots under 40.
Sturgell then turned his attention to pitching the FAA's
much-ballyhooed "NextGen" air traffic control system.
"I can say that we're making solid progress," Sturgell said.
"The foundational technologies are either already in place or will
be soon enough. They include WAAS, which provides increased airport
access in reduced visibility conditions. We've published over 1,000
WAAS LPV procedures and we now have more of them than ILS
Sturgell concluded his prepared remarks by noting the FAA is
rolling out ADS-B procedures at several GA airports in the
southeastern US, including Boca Raton, Lakeland Linder, and Dade
Collier. "So as you can see, we're moving confidently ahead with
NextGen, and it's with general aviation's well-being in mind,"
Sturgell said. "Each and every one of you is a part of a remarkable
history that's being made at this very moment. If you want to know
why it's never been safer to fly, it's because of pilots like you.
There's nothing but blue skies ahead."