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Annual report: Looking to the future

AOPA tirelessly serves members and looks to grow our industry

For many, the past few years have been as tumultuous as any period in their lifetimes. Given the major challenges the world has faced with health, security, and financial stability, general aviation has fared remarkably well. More pilots are active now than at any point in nearly 40 years; student starts are up; and the airplane market is strong. And at the center of it all has been AOPA, protecting your freedom to fly.
Annual Report 
Annual Report 
Annual Report 
Annual Report

Despite significant challenges, AOPA has been strong and steady. The association has continued to produce award-winning content, lobby effectively at the highest levels, encourage and support the future of our industry, and offer an ever-increasing suite of benefits for its members. The staff has remained firmly committed to the mission, and members have emphatically continued to support their efforts.

The United States can boast the world’s most vibrant aviation industry, with the largest and most passionate group of pilots, many active landing facilities and support, and an unparalleled manufacturing base. None of that should be taken for granted. Numerous challenges are on the horizon, both big and small. Advocacy is a core AOPA mission, and we will be there to protect your freedom to fly, whether it’s advocating for state tax relief or guiding our unleaded future.

A future without lead

The time has come for all of us to rally around a future of unleaded fuel in aviation. AOPA has been active in the transition to unleaded fuel for years, and together with industry and government partners, is pushing for a safe, rapid, and orderly move away from 100LL.

Earlier this year, AOPA and its partners announced EAGLE (Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions), an initiative that seeks to have one viable drop-in unleaded fuel in place by 2030 (see “AOPA Action,” p. 14). While that may seem like a long time in the future, the challenges are immense. Numerous steps are involved with developing, testing, certifying, and deploying a single fleet-wide replacement fuel in that timeframe. But together, and with the support of our members, we know it’s possible.


Annual Report
Leading the effort

Q&A with Jim Coon

With its ability to bring together pilots, aircraft owners, manufacturers, and government, AOPA is at the forefront of the effort to transition the fleet away from 100LL. Under the leadership of President and CEO Mark Baker, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Advocacy Jim Coon, and the advocacy team, AOPA is spearheading this important initiative.

Q: How is EAGLE different from previous unleaded efforts, such as the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI) process?
A: Unlike the PAFI program, the EAGLE initiative brings together all stakeholders from industry and government agencies, with a focus on obtaining and distributing a high-octane unleaded fuel as quickly as possible—and no later than 2030. PAFI was established to develop testing procedures and conduct testing of high-octane unleaded fuel candidates.

Q: Why is it so difficult to move away from leaded fuel?
A: Lead in aviation gasoline protects engines from detonation by increasing the fuel’s octane. Detonation can lead to catastrophic engine failure. An unleaded fuel formula must have a chemical makeup that provides detonation protection. GAMI’s G100UL is the first high-octane unleaded avgas to be FAA-approved via a supplemental type certificate (STC) for specific makes and models of aircraft, and other fuel providers, large and small, continue to work toward a solution for the entire GA fleet.

Q: Why can’t we just use mogas?
A: Substituting mogas was evaluated early on in the unleaded avgas industry effort, about 30-plus years ago, and it was determined that many properties important for aviation safety are not adequately controlled for in mogas. In some states, regulations don’t even require mogas to meet the existing mogas specifications. Also, mogas and avgas are rated on different octane scales; that gives us more than a 10-octane number gap between what mogas offers and the required octane for 70 percent of avgas demand.

Q: GAMI appears to have a viable unleaded fuel. Why aren’t we all just lining up behind them and pushing this through faster?
A: AOPA supports all pathways to attaining an unleaded high-octane aviation gasoline for the general aviation fleet of nearly 200,000 aircraft. GAMI’s G100UL has STCs for over 600 different types of piston-engine aircraft, but approval by the FAA for the entire high-compression engine fleet is not yet in hand. Beyond having an approved fuel, the industry has to work out the logistics of producing the fuel in volume, as well as transporting, storing, and dispensing unleaded high-octane aviation gasoline. The EAGLE effort will address these issues, as well.

Q: Do you think EAGLE, with its mix of industry and the FAA, will be enough to thwart more premature moves away from avgas like we’ve seen in California?
A: The FAA and industry are working to address this, and it is a high priority. Some airports are moving unilaterally and prematurely to ban 100LL, and thereby creating a safety threat to pilots and preventing some emergency and rescue aircraft from staging there. Premature leaded avgas bans impede efforts to develop a safe and smart transition to our future unleaded fuel. We hope that a combination of wisdom and foresight can reverse these initiatives while the best and brightest chemists and engineers in the world work to develop a viable unleaded fuel solution.

Q: Am I going to have to make modifications to my airplane?
A: The ultimate goal is an unleaded avgas that does not require modifications to aircraft or engines. And it is my understanding that current candidate fuels are not expected to require modifications.

Q: Will I have to pay more for an unleaded fuel?
A: We believe unleaded avgas formulations will cost the same or slightly more to manufacture. The price at the pump, however, is influenced by many factors. Unleaded fuels will allow more fuel blenders to compete in the marketplace, potentially placing downward pressure on price at the pump, but it is too early to tell for sure until fuel development is completed and fuel distribution costs are better known.

Growing our ranks

Advocacy efforts such as a safe and efficient transition away from 100LL are a common thread that runs through everything AOPA does for general aviation, including our efforts to attract a new generation of passionate aviators, and support those who currently fly.

Keeping aviation affordable has been a pillar of the association since its founding in 1939. It remains a key priority today. Keeping taxes low in the states, pushing back on user fees, working with the FAA to bring less expensive equipment into our cockpits, and supporting aircraft certification reform are just a few of the many ways that AOPA advocates for broader access to aviation. We must also entice new pilots, show them the passion and value of aviation, and support their journeys.

AOPA’s You Can Fly initiative is a consolidated slate of resources and programs that seeks to grow and strengthen the pilot community. Its many efforts are contained in four pillars.


Annual Report
The bulk of AOPA’s revenue in 2021 came through membership dues, advertising, and commissions and royalties. Mission constitutes the bulk of expenses and includes advocacy, media, and member-focused programs such as the AOPA Air Safety Institute. Not shown here is nonoperating investment gains.
The bulk of AOPA’s revenue in 2021 came through membership dues, advertising, and commissions and royalties. Mission constitutes the bulk of expenses and includes advocacy, media, and member-focused programs such as the AOPA Air Safety Institute. Not shown here is nonoperating investment gains.
Education constitutes the bulk of expenses to support the You Can Fly programs, AOPA Air Safety Insitute, and the Airport Support Network. The You Can Fly programs focused on developing flying clubs, supporting AOPA Ambassadors, flight training, Rusty Pilots initiative and the high school program. The AOPA Air Safety Institute offers safety quizzes, seminars, flight instructor refresher clinics, webinars, and PSAs. The Airport Support Network promotes, protects, and defends America’s community airports. Not shown here is nonoperating investment gains.
Education constitutes the bulk of expenses to support the You Can Fly programs, AOPA Air Safety Insitute, and the Airport Support Network. The You Can Fly programs focused on developing flying clubs, supporting AOPA Ambassadors, flight training, Rusty Pilots initiative and the high school program. The AOPA Air Safety Institute offers safety quizzes, seminars, flight instructor refresher clinics, webinars, and PSAs. The Airport Support Network promotes, protects, and defends America’s community airports. Not shown here is nonoperating investment gains.

Benefits for all

We work tirelessly to offer a wide range of helpful and valuable benefits for our members, whether that means saving you money on car rentals, helping you plan flights, guiding your medical certificate applications through the FAA’s process, or creating fun stories and videos to enjoy flying even when you’re not in the cockpit. Here are just a few of the many ways you can utilize your membership:

Advocacy: No organization is more effective at defending your freedom to fly than AOPA.

  • Local, state, and national representation—Engagement with agencies and legislatures at every level of lawmaking.
  • Support from political action committee (PAC)—AOPA PAC is a completely non-partisan entity. Its primary goal is to elect a pro-general aviation majority in Congress.
  • Join the Airport Support Network—A network of AOPA volunteers that locally monitor issues and represent pilots and GA enthusiasts at thousands of airports nationwide.

Media: Keeping you informed and in touch with the ever-changing world of general aviation.

  • Enjoy award-winning magazines—Written by pilots for pilots and anyone with a passion for flying.
  • Read informative newsletters—Choose from a variety of customizable newsletters, delivered right to your email inbox.
  • Access to digital media—Additional resources to stay current with GA happenings.

Tools and resources: All the tools and resources you need to navigate your way to the best and safest flying experience possible.

  • Call the AOPA Pilot Information Center (PIC)—Our staff of experienced pilots and CFIs are available by phone, chat, and email to assist you on a variety of topics.
  • Access to AOPA Travel—Planning your trips has never been easier.
  • Flight tools designed for you—A robust suite of online and mobile tools to help plan flights efficiently.

Be a safer pilot: A good pilot is always learning. We want good pilots in the skies.

  • The AOPA Air Safety Institute is working for you—ASI produces free safety and education resources for pilots of all skill levels.
  • Access to online learning—Put your safe flying skills and knowledge to the test with one of our interactive courses, quizzes, webinars, podcasts, and more.
  • Pursue pilot continuing education—Opportunities to build your knowledge and proficiency as a pilot.

Get connected to pilots: Share the passion with like-minded individuals.

  • Attend AOPA fly-ins—Our popular two-day regional fly-ins have something for everyone.
  • Join flying clubs—Enjoy the benefits of shared ownership and a strong sense of community.
  • Be a part of social media and online community—Connect with fellow pilots and AOPA members around the world.

Pilot services: We offer great rates on quality aviation products and services to keep you flying.

  • Personal insurance services designed for you—Peace of mind for pilots.
  • Be safe with AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services (PPS)*—Safeguard your pilot and medical certificates.
  • Financial help and advice—Let us be your guide to aviation related financial needs.

Programs and perks: AOPA members enjoy exclusive savings, programs, and special offers.

  • Take advantage of discount programs—Save money on a variety of great services such as rental cars and hotels.
  • Apply for AOPA World Mastercard—Top off your airplane and your wallet with aviation-focused rewards.
  • Your chance to win the AOPA sweepstakes—AOPA members are automatically entered in our sweepstakes giveaway!
  • Wear AOPA pilot gear—Enjoy 10 percent members-only savings on top-quality products. Upgrade to our premier levels or life membership for 20 percent savings.

*Pilot Protection Services available with upgraded membership levels


AOPA Publications staff

AOPA Publications Staff editors are pilots, flight instructors, and aircraft owners with more than 250 years of combined aviation experience.

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