March 27, 2005

AOPA Working Hard for General Aviation

phil_boyer_aopa_thumb.jpgAs, I posted earlier this week I had the opportunity to hear and meet Aircraft Owner and Pilots Association President, Phil Boyer, speak at an AOPA Pilot Town Meeting. The purpose of these meetings is to share all the great work AOPA is doing for its members.

Phil talked about the ongoing concern that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could begin imposing user fees for General Aviation pilots. The FAA is always looking at ways to save on their budget and pilots have been concerned they might start charging GA pilots to pay for usage of FAA services. Phil played a video clip of FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey saying the FAA is not interested in charging usage fees which was followed by applause in the auditorium. Phil mentioned AOPA has been proactive in helping the FAA find ways to cut costs so that usage fees would not need to be an option.

One way to cut costs is the privatization of Flight Service Stations (FSS). AOPA has been supportive of this process and active in finding a solution. Phil recently was quoted saying " the consumer advocate for general aviation pilots, AOPA fought in the halls of Congress and the FAA to make sure that FSS customers are going to get the service they need." Flight Service Stations for a long while have been functioning with older equipment and tight staffing. The FAA selected Lockheed Martin to take over management of the flight service stations and modernizing them while at the same time providing an FAA cost savings estimated to be more than $2 billion over the next ten years.

Lockheed Martin is also guaranteeing to answer FSS calls within 20 seconds and radio calls from aircraft in five seconds. Additionally, they will be setting up a profile system so that when I call in for a weather briefing they already have information including my common routes, aircraft flown and my experience readily available to them to help personalize my briefing. AOPA was very involved in the selection process.

Phil also talked about another big initiative for AOPA which is the development of the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). AOPA has worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration in the development of WAAS which will provide more accurate GPS navigation. One benefit of WAAS is that it improves GPS signals accuracy from 100 meters to approximately 7 meters.

The FAA states the following benefits:

  • Greater runway capability

  • Reduced separation standards which allow increased capacity in a given airspace without increased risk

  • More direct enroute flight paths

  • New precision approach services

  • Reduced and simplified equipment on board aircraft
  • Significant government cost savings due to the elimination of maintenance costs associated with older, more expensive ground-based navigation aids (to include NDBs, VORs, DMEs, and most Category 1 ILSs)

I love that AOPA offers these forums to share all the great work they are doing for General Aviation on behalf of their members.

Posted by tmacrock at March 27, 2005 5:39 PM

I love that AOPA is so open to meeting and working with their members ... and that so many members take advantage of it! Hope there will be more town meetings in your city soon!


Posted by: CJ at March 29, 2005 2:20 PM