AOPA has called on members in Massachusetts to contact the sponsor of a bill that would charge a $1,000 “climate mitigation” landing fee on GA aircraft and insist that he withdraw the broadly panned measure from consideration. The bill, submitted by state Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro), “would have an immediate and devastating impact on general aviation and each of the state’s 39 public-use airports,” said AOPA Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins.
Passage of the bill could create uncertainty for almost 200,000 aviation industry employees and jeopardize $24.7 billion in aviation-supported economic activity. In contrast to Cyr’s punitive approach, NASA has selected Massachusetts as one of five locations to develop and implement an Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) system “that is equitable, sustainable, and integrated with other transportation systems” and includes green, cutting-edge technological solutions.
“Senator Cyr should be focused on supporting change through positive ideas, not costly negative ideas with huge collateral damage to the residents he purports to be helping,” Collins said.
In a letter sent to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, AOPA and other stakeholders explained that the aviation industry is in the best position to help implement real-time special-use airspace notifications. The National Defense Authorization Act, signed on January 1, requires that real-time status of SUA and military operations areas be sent to pilots’ cockpits. AOPA, other aviation organizations, and companies such as Garmin and ForeFlight would be key to a successful implementation of the long-desired and much-needed advancement. The AOPA-championed effort to provide aviators with real-time status of MOAs and restricted areas pushed directly into the cockpit will result in enormous savings and environmental benefits for operators of private, commercial, and military aircraft.
By Mike Ginter, / AOPA vice president, airports and state advocacy
Many pilots remember big advocacy wins such as third class medical reform (BasicMed) and beating ATC privatization; however, AOPA champions issues affecting general aviation every day in Washington, D.C.
AOPA has a dedicated team of seven regional managers who are registered state lobbyists and represent the interests of GA in all 50 state capitals. This has been a very busy year in state legislatures: As of June 1, a total of 157,766 bills were introduced and 28,535 bills were enacted in the 50 states, and 647 of these bills had potential direct or indirect impacts to GA (yes, we use sophisticated software to help us). Your state advocacy team actively tracked more than 100 of these bills and directly advocated for or against more than 40 of them.
We vigorously supported bills intended to benefit GA or save our members money, like those that increased airport funding or “right-sized” an aviation-related tax. We vigorously opposed many other bills that signaled serious risk to GA, such as those that proposed a $1,000 landing fee to fund climate change mitigation, imposed restrictions on certain types of helicopter tour operations, or eliminated statutory airspace protection near airports.
AOPA is GA’s voice in state houses, and our voice has been heard. So far this year, we helped pass eight bills in West Virginia, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Washington, Montana, and South Carolina, and we helped block at least four detrimental bills in Hawaii and California. The fight goes on, but 2021 is shaping up to be a good year for GA in the states.
The most powerful advocacy tool we have is your direct communication with state legislators; when you call your elected representatives, they listen.
Does your airport have a master plan? A master plan is a blueprint for an airport’s long-term development and is approved locally by the airport sponsor. Most plans are updated every five to seven years. They identify areas for future development, specify permitted land usage, identify future funding needs, and create a forum for public involvement. And when it’s time to update the master plan, local pilots and airport businesses need a seat at the table.
An airport support group is a great way for airport stakeholders to provide input and ensure general aviation interests are represented in the master planning process. Recently, airport support groups have made significant contributions to master plans that otherwise might have resulted in fewer hangars, tiedowns, and aviation businesses. And a well-run airport support group can do so much more than participate in the master planning process. Many groups publish newsletters, utilize social media, host airport open houses, assist the airport in dealing with noise complaints, or attend local government meetings. —Josh Pruzek, AOPA Northwest regional manager
Learn more about creating an effective airport support group at aopa.org/asn or contact your AOPA regional manager at 800-USA-AOPA.
The proposed National Center for the Advancement of Aviation Act, backed by AOPA and more than 180 organizations, would create an independent center to foster collaboration among commercial, general, and military aviation sectors to address a host of issues including looming talent shortages. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), both GA pilots, introduced the legislation (S.1752) in the Senate along with Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.). A bipartisan companion bill was introduced in the House. The center would allow the FAA to focus on its core priorities of getting more designated pilot examiners in the field, fixing the special issuance medical process, ensuring that our airports remain safe and vibrant, and continuing to modernize our air traffic system.