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Mon, Nov 10, 2003

EAA Chairs GA Coalition Meeting With FAA

GAMA Runs The New Show

Members of the General Aviation Coalition (GAC) met with FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and her senior management team last Wednesday, the final coalition gathering with FAA to be chaired by EAA and EAA President Tom Poberezny. That brings to a close EAA's nearly two years at the helm of the GAC.

"It's been a challenging two years in the post-9/11 environment," Poberezny said. "Much of our tenure as chair was spent dealing with security and security-related issues, which is a significant departure from the traditional work of the coalition. We doubled our efforts by developing relationships with the Transportation Security Administration, establishing periodic meetings with TSA as well as continuing our relationship with FAA. We're pleased to be able to provide input to the people making security-related decisions that directly affect general aviation."

EAA will chair a final Coalition meeting under its watch with the Transportation Security Administration later this month.

A number of topics were on the table Wednesday. They included airport access and restrictions; pilot certificate actions and violations for restricted airspace incursions; recently released general aviation accident rate statistics; and several other matters.

ADIZ And TFR Certificate Actions And Violations

Poberezny led a discussion about pilots who have made TFR and ADIZ incursions and what happens to them from a penalty standpoint. The coalition advocates a uniform policy with flexibility in the enforcement process to allow for remedial action, counseling, or amnesty in cases of inadvertent incursions.

FAA figures show nearly 2,800 violations of various restricted airspace areas since 9/11, half of which occurred in the Washington area alone (ADIZ, Camp David). Other high-frequency violation areas include Crawford (TX), Kennebunkport (ME), and TFRs issued for presidential travel.

Even though increased certificate action required for TFR incursions strains FAA resources, other agencies weigh heavily into decision making regarding security enforcement policy. The security agencies (Secret Service, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security) are not keen on flexibility. Early on, in fact, the Secret Service took the position that airspace incursions should be criminal violations that could carry prison sentences.

FAA indicated they would explore the potential for a revised enforcement internally.

GA Accident Rate

While the total number of general aviation accidents continues a general downward trend, the number of fatal accidents and consequent fatalities increased over the last year, especially in the areas of personal and instructional flight. One area-amateur-built aircraft-experienced a significant drop in fatalities, which drew praise from the FAA.

The amateur-built aircraft operational safety record continued to improve dramatically with a more than 30 percent decrease in the number of fatal accidents compared to the year before. Nick Sabatini said he was concerned in the uptick in GA fatalities and pointed to EAA's Flight Advisor and Technical Counselor programs as having a significant positive impact on the safety record of amateur built aircraft operations. Given EAA and its successful safety and education programs in the homebuilt arena, Sabatini challenged the other coalition members to come up with programs of their own to reduce the incidence of fatal accidents.

Airport Access And Restrictions

Several coalition members gave presentations on airport access and the ever-increasing tendency of local governments to impose unreasonable requirements and restrictions on general aviation operations. The Coalition praised the work of the FAA in upholding airport grant assurances and assisting the GA community in preserving airports and their full use. The success rate to ensure access and reduce restrictions runs the gamut from Chicago's Meigs Field on the low end to, more recently, successful defense of St. Petersburg, Florida's Albert Whitted Airport.

FAA views protecting airports as a high priority moving forward, and language is currently included in the FAA reauthorization bill that will give the FAA additional teeth to better help preserve GA airports in the future.

NPRM For Air Tour Operators

Coalition members were briefed on the recently issued NPRM regulating Air Tour owners and operators, but no discussion could be legally held on the subject since the rule is in the comments stage and all input must made to the docket. EAA and a large number of the Coalition members have strong reservations about the rule, which will likely be reflected in their individual comments to the docket.

Other Matters

Steve Wallace, Director of the FAA's Accident Investigative Branch, was named FAA co-chair of the General Aviation Joint Safety Committee to replace Mike Gallagher who is retiring. Bruce Landsberg, Executive Director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, was nominated to replace Jack Olcott in the industry co-chair position.

The GA Coalition chairmanship will transfer to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) at the end of this year. GAMA President Ed Bolen will be the new coalition chairman.

FMI: www.eaa.org

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