China to have effect on GA manufacturing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — China will have a greater effect on the manufacture of general aviation aircraft than it will on commercial airliners, a Senate committee was told Thursday at a Congressional hearing discussing. domestic challenges and global competition in aviation manufacturing.

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Why hasn’t FAA acted on ADS-B loan guarantee for GA?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Why has the FAA not taken action on implementing a loan guarantee program for general aviation to prepare for the mandate for ADS-B equipment three years after Congress passed a law approving it? That is a question Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), who chairs the Committee on Small Business, asked in a recent letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

During a hearing in June before the committee, Huerta said lack of appropriations was a reason for the failure.

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Texas search group to continue using drones despite FAA court win

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The FAA says a recent court decision regarding the use of drones has no bearing on the agency’s ability to regulate the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), but a Texas organization that brought the action plans to continue using UAS without approval from the government office. Texas EquuSearch had sued the FAA seeking to overturn an order the agency emailed to it in February prohibiting the use of drones.

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DOT audit says FAA likely to miss drone deadline

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A government report says the FAA will miss the Sept. 30, 2015, deadline set by Congress for drones to share the skies with manned aircraft. The Washington Post said the agency is “significantly behind schedule” in drawing up rules.

The newspaper reported its findings based on a report by the Department of Transportation Inspector General.

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USA Today goes anti-GA

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On June 18, the national publication USA Today published an article titled Unfit for Flight. It painted general aviation as a dangerous activity and the manufacturers of aircraft as contributing to general aviation accidents. This is not new.

Anti-general aviation material has been printed and broadcast in the past. Two things make this time different. First, aircraft manufacturers, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), and Textron, parent company to GA giant Cessna, had provided information to the writer, who chose not to use any of the material. Second, increased concern over more congestion at major airports labeled this as a possible early shot in what could become a major battle.

Neither of these two points is new. After a mid-air collision at San Diego  in 1978 between an airliner and a single-engine GA aircraft, major media spewed material about the dangers of “those small airplanes.” (It was finally determined that the airline pilots were busy talking among themselves and after sighting the GA aircraft had supposed they had passed it.) This accident set off a storm of anti-general aviation reports in print and on-air media.

This was just what the FAA was waiting for to establish then-called Terminal Control Areas around every airport in the United States served by a scheduled air carrier, even if it was just one or two flights a day.
Airlines favored the idea because it would mean limited numbers of general aviation aircraft getting near the airports the carriers used.

It was obvious the media was not getting such a wide range of anti-general aviation material without help. The president of American Airlines openly pushed for restricting general aviation operations at airports. (American Airlines has since become much more understanding and tolerant.)

At the time I was vice president of public relations at AOPA. We took on the fight. I had an undercover person on the staff at American Airlines so we knew what the airline was pushing to the media and able to counter it, often before it was published.

The AOPA PR department also took on the FAA’s efforts to establish restricted zones around every airport. For this, we tailored information to the individual publications in each city, pointing out the damage to that area that the FAA’s plans for terminal control areas would bring. There was no mention of the accident. This received the kind of support intended.

Local leaders, reading of the damages to the economy of restricting movements at the town’s airport, contacted their members in Congress. The war was not won, but the battles were. Instead of terminal control areas around every air carrier airport, Class B airspace rules were established at only the few where they now exist.

As a long-time newspaper man, I can tell you a reporter rarely comes up with such a story idea unless there is a personal reason or it is suggested by an outside source. Without any direct finger pointing, one must wonder what prompted that USA Today piece.

GA’s alphabet groups, including AOPA, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), and the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), were all quick to counter the USA Today piece with accurate information. But response is always behind, with opponents always ahead.

The best defense is a strong offense. But it takes planning. A top executive in an international corporation gave me some great advice as I discussed taking on another large industry in the struggle for general aviation’s position in air traffic movement: “Don’t take them on directly,” he said. “They will squash you like a small worm.”

I learned. Take on the big ones, but do it a smart way.

Are you ready to share the sky with drones?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Unmanned aerial systems (UAS), better known as drones, are moving fast in development. General aviation pilots are starting to delve deeper into the subject as FAA expects as many as 30,000 UAS to be flying in U.S. airspace by 2020.

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‘Significant progress’ made on NextGen in last year

WASHINGTON, D.C. — It has been one year since FAA Deputy Administrator Mike Whitaker took over as Chief NextGen Officer. In his first report to Congress early in June, he noted that “significant progress” has been made.

That optimism is not totally shared by others, however, most of whom have questions about equipment requirements and costs; potential effects on traffic in congested airspace; equipment and possible regulations in non-congested airspace; and other secondary effects of a new system.

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Small airports important in national airport financing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Obama’s budget calling for a reduction in airport funding would have a serious effect on small airports, Dr. Gerald Dillingham of the U.S. Government Accounting Office told a congressional hearing Wednesday, June 17.

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GA reluctant to jump on NextGen bandwagon

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The FAA needs to take speedier action, as well as assure pilots and aircraft owners that expenditures for equipment will not significantly change for general aviation to move ahead to prepare for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), members of Congress were told in a hearing held Wednesday by the House Committee on Small Business.

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NextGen progressing, FAA tells Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The FAA is making progress in the next generation air traffic control (NextGen) program, Deputy Administrator Mike Whitaker said in a report to the Congress. Whitaker was appointed Chief NextGen Officer a year ago.

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