You might want to lay off the cookies Santa…

Dear Santa,

I hope this letter reaches you in time. It has been a bit hectic lately, so I’m a little late. Wait, why am I telling you this? You already know. This year, I only want three things:

Prompt certification for lead-free avgas: Shell recently joined GAMI and Swift in the race to produce a lead-free 100 octane fuel. Options for those of us who buy fuel for aircraft (mogas or avgas) is much needed. (Being reindeer-powered, I’m certain this doesn’t affect you.) But, I’d love to see all three (and more) come to market. Is it too much to ask for a quick, but thorough, approval process? After all, we just want to operate our airplanes safely and affordably.

A lump of coal for the FAA: The FAA is attempting an end-run around proper rulemaking by foolishly targeting certain pilots — those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40 or a neck size greater than 17 inches — for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

I’m sure the FAA desires a healthy pilot population, but this proposed policy is flawed from start to finish. While I’ve never seen you face-to-face, the pop culture images show you to be a rather portly fellow. You might want to be careful this year Santa. We’ll do our part and leave you celery (yeah, I know) and carrots.

Common Sense for Congress: The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act, a bill proposed by Representatives Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.), and co-sponsored by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) is something General Aviation desperately needs. The bill would revise the third class medical by replacing a brief, compulsory medical examination with a requirement that pilots possess a valid driver’s license as proof of health.

It would also limit pilots to flying with no more than five passengers, not above 14,000 feet and at no more than 250 knots, and in aircraft that have a maximum takeoff weight of 6,000 pounds.

While not perfect, in my humble opinion, it’s a great start to make aviation more accessible to pilots and would-be pilots alike. A little common sense would go a LONG way here.

To be honest, there is more I want. But I don’t want to get greedy. Besides, these wishes won’t affect your weight and balance much.

Happy Christmas Santa. Dark skies and tailwind


  1. Norman Davis says

    Regarding the sleep apnea fiasco: I suspect someone in a higher FAA position had a conversation with Dr Tilton and recommended he drop the bullying tacticts that the FAA and IRS are famous for and try to be nice. His position is not one where he can issue a royal decree without opposition.

    In my opinion Dr Tilton should be dismissed from his position. He evidantally has a huge ego, but this being the holiday season, I’ll show a little charity in the false hope he and his cronies will recognize it and act accordingly.

    I believe that to expect the elimination of the third class medical for the criteria within the House bill, is but a pipe dream. The FAA and NTSB will never go for it and will probably have temper tantrums while fighting it tooth and nail. We may end up with a worse monster of regulations just so that the FAA operachik is appeased.

    • Sarah A says

      With regards to your final commnet, Congress/President are the bosses of the FAA and not the other way around. This is not the first case of congress passing a law to force the FAA to enact specific legislation it refused to do on its own. The FAA can throw a fit if it wants but the people have spoken and now their representatives are forcing the required action. Our elected representatives are more interested in getting our votes (and campaign funding) then appeasing a bunch of Washington burocrats that are trying to maintain their empires.

      • TedZ says

        You tell ’em, Sarah! You’re so right. I’ve heard from a few people that this bill will never be passed, but We The People are the bosses of the FAA and Congress, and it will happen if we demand it. There’s nothing more important to revive aviation than the GA Pilot Protection Act as it is written (with the medical exemption). We pilots should remember that, and make THIS one happen!

        • Sarah A says

          All you have to do is look at recent history and see that this is the only way to get reform at the FAA. It was quite recent that Congress passed legislation forcing the FAA to enact the recomendations that one of its own committees came up with regards to revision of the certification process for avionics and airframes (GA Revitialization Act ?). It was also recently forced onto the FAA to revise standards for airline pilot training after several accidents and the public outvry that followed. It seems that the only way to make improvements to aviation these days is to push it through Congress (and the President). I have given up on the alphabit groups attempt at an aexmption to expand the drivers license medical. This is the only way to get it done with todays FAA. As I stated “Our” representatives want/need our votes and funding so we make them jump through the hoop this time. There will be House and Senate electiions this year so lets all get togather and make this a condition of our support.

      • Greg W says

        So true Sara, the FAA et. all may throw a fit ( BMI policy) but they do work for congress whether they like it or not. Congress can force the agencies or even remove personnel if desired to bring about desired results. The senate and house both want our vote and so will listen, perhaps reluctantly, but none the less will listen to the people.

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