Pilots could start seeing improvements in the notam system this fall, the FAA has told AOPA. The improvements include graphical airport construction diagrams and a decrease in the number of permanent notams as the changes are incorporated into charts. In addition, the notam system will become more resistant to outages as it is moved into the cloud.
AOPA surveyed 30,000 members about improving notams, and 77 percent of respondents said making notams easier to understand was important while 46 percent said addressing the number of notams was important.
“These are just the first tangible improvements pilots will notice,” AOPA Director of Airspace, Air Traffic, and Security Jim McClay said, adding that “we still have a long way to go in this modernization effort.”
Pilots who read “confusing or erroneous” notams should report them through the FAA’s Aeronautical Information Portal. In addition, McClay said pilots should maintain positive relationships with their local airport management to directly alert them about any local notams that are confusing.
The transition from the domestic to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) notam format is expected to be complete by the end of 2024. The transition “will allow for more robust sorting and make it easier for pilots to find relevant notams,” McClay said.
Based on AOPA’s survey, pilots are concerned about the transition to the ICAO format, and McClay said AOPA is working with the FAA to develop training on the new format. The good news, he said, is that most pilots read translated notams through their electronic flight bags and other vendors and won’t notice the difference in the raw notams.
The management of Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau, the Bahamas, has proposed a $28-per-passenger fee for individuals arriving on international flights aboard private aircraft. The fee, if approved by the airport authority, would take effect February 1, 2022, with the revenue generated from general aviation activity going “to fund needed major construction projects to better serve GA passengers and reduce their delay impact on commercial flights and passengers,” according to the Nassau Airport Development Co.’s proposal. AOPA is analyzing the proposal and intends to submit formal comments. AOPA’s initial concerns include the proposed fee creating a disparate cost burden on GA flights based on the number of passengers aboard. It could have an adverse effect on the affordability of GA flights to Nassau, likely curtailing the economic benefit GA brings to the Bahamian economy. AOPA is also concerned that the supporting data and justification for a fee increase lacks relevant and accurate information, and questions whether funds raised by the fees will benefit GA.
AOPA is working with the FAA and aviation stakeholders to inform the public about the safety implications of aiming laser pointers at aircraft. The FAA is taking a data-driven approach to attacking “the dangerously high rate” of those incidents. There were 6,852 laser strikes reported to the FAA in 2020, up from 6,136 in 2019, marking the highest annual total since 2016. AOPA joins the FAA in urging pilots to report laser encounters to the agency and to local law enforcement as the campaign to curb the problem continues. Getting caught misusing the inexpensive, easily purchased devices could be pricey. “People who shine lasers at aircraft face FAA fines of up to $11,000 per violation and up to $30,800 for multiple laser incidents,” the FAA said; of the $600,000 of fines levied since 2016, $120,000 was assessed already in 2021.
By Christopher Cooper
AOPA senior director, regulatory affairs
Designated pilot examiners (DPEs) serve a vital and important service on behalf of the FAA by providing examinations to pilot applicants, ensuring they meet the necessary knowledge and proficiency standards to safely operate in the National Airspace System. Without the services of the more than 900 DPEs nationwide, there would be significant delays to individuals wanting to join the pilot community or who desire to further their flight training experience. Since the services of DPEs provide for the safety and growth of the entire pilot community, it is an AOPA priority to engage with the FAA and industry to ensure adequate accessibility to well-trained and knowledgeable DPEs.
AOPA participated in the Aviation Rule-making Advisory Committee’s DPE Reforms Working Group to develop recommendations on how to improve the DPE system. Recommendations were forwarded to the FAA to improve the selection, training, deployment, and oversight of DPEs. AOPA continues to work with the FAA on how best to implement these recommendations because we understand how frustrating unnecessary delays in completing a practical exam can be.
Through the hard work and dedication of our AOPA DPE Advisory Board—five experienced DPEs who volunteer their time—we have provided invaluable insight on the important issues facing DPEs and the pilot community. And thanks also to you, our members who have reached out to us about challenges you’re experiencing with the accessibility of DPEs in your area.
If you have experienced issues with accessing reasonable availability to a DPE in your area, let us know. Call us at 800-USA-AOPA or email [email protected].
By Melissa McCaffrey
Western Pacific regional manager
There are more than 7,300 state legislators in the United States, including many who are general aviation pilots. AOPA has found great success in leveraging these existing pilots to build a coalition of support when aviation-related bills are being debated. AOPA coordinated and encouraged the formation of nearly 20 active state-level general aviation caucuses across the country. These caucuses have proved to be powerful unifiers for legislators, administrative staff, and constituents specifically around GA-related legislation.
AOPA’s regional managers are on the front lines representing GA in the state legislatures. GA caucuses are a great way to ensure a strong network of elected representatives who can effectively represent pilots in their respective state districts.
What can you do? Remind your elected state representative that aviation is an economic driver, job creator, and a critical link between communities, and ask them to join their state GA caucus. If there is not one, encourage them to contact one of AOPA’s regional managers who will help support their goals and the goals of aviators in the communities they represent.