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Global GA community gathers at IAOPA World Assembly

International affiliates of AOPA met with aviation industry leaders, government officials, and stakeholders from across the globe at the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) World Assembly in Washington, D.C., May 7 through 10.

  • FAA Administrator and general aviation pilot Michael Whitaker delivers opening remarks to the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations World Assembly in Washington, D.C., on May 8. Photo by David Tulis.
  • National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen, IAOPA President Mark Baker, Vertical Aviation International President Jim Viola, and National Air Transportation Association President Curt Castagna participate in an industry leadership panel during the IAOPA World Assembly. Photo by David Tulis.
  • AOPA Philippines President Gomeriano Amurao attends an IAOPA World Assembly meeting in Washington, D.C., on May 8. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Ludovic Aron, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s representative to the United States, addresses attendees. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Frank Hofmann, U.S. representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization, shows a small jar of honey to attendees. Hofmann said European airports present “a little bit of sweetness” to people visiting the general aviation airfields. Photo by David Tulis.
  • IAOPA officials tour the AOPA facility at Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland on May 10. Photo by David Tulis.

The biennial event provides a valuable opportunity for the global aviation community to come together to share insights and discuss the latest challenges, opportunities, and developments impacting general aviation, and to have a unified voice before civil aviation authorities.

“We come from all over the world, with different cultures and different regulations, but we are united in our mission to protect and promote general aviation” said IAOPA President Mark Baker.

IAOPA was founded in 1962 to unite GA on a global basis and 60 years ago, the organization was granted observer status at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). To this day, it remains the sole GA group with this distinction. During the 2024 World Assembly, a session titled Navigating the ICAO Standards Process detailed the importance of this status, featuring IAOPA Representative to ICAO Frank Hofmann; FAA Director of the Western Hemisphere Melvin Cintron; ICAO Deputy Director of the Capacity, Development, and Implementation Bureau Miguel Marin; and FAA Manager of the International Operations Branch Tim Shaver.

Over the course of the weeklong World Assembly—the first in person since the COVID-19 pandemic—attendees discussed a multitude of issues impacting GA and how best to move forward with the challenges and opportunities facing the industry. As an organization with more than 80 affiliates worldwide, IAOPA uses the strength and passion of its members to seek universal standards on safety, medical processes, pilot training and licensing, and more.

These topics were among those addressed by industry leaders and experts during panels and discussions throughout the event. Senior Aviation Medical Examiner Brent Blue, M.D.; Australia Civil Aviation Safety Authority Principal Medical Officer Kate Manderson, M.D.; and FAA Deputy Federal Air Surgeon Brett Wyrick, D.O., M.P.H., led a discussion on a proposal currently before ICAO that would create an international medical standard for private pilots of light aircraft.

Attendees also received the latest updates on the transition to an unleaded fuel with insight from General Aviation Modifications Inc. and Swift Fuels and heard about advancement of GA safety, with FAA Associate Administrator David Boulter bringing the agency’s perspective forward. A GA leadership panel was hosted by Baker, National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen, National Air Transportation Association President Curt Castagna, and Vertical Aviation International President Jim Viola.

The evolution of GA and the future technology of the industry were also among main topics discussed. CubCrafters and Van’s Aircraft Inc., brought a manufacturer’s perspective, and uAvionix and Garmin International briefed on the technological advancement of GA. Greg Bowles, head of government affairs at Joby Aviation; Billy Nolen, chief safety officer at Archer Aviation; Matt McCardle, head of global regulatory affairs and strategy at Amazon Prime Air; and Robert Rose, CEO of Reliable Robotics, spoke about The Future of Advanced Air Mobility. And Josh Tahmasebi, head of international growth at ForeFlight, spoke about Bringing ForeFlight to the World.

International attendance provided engaged audiences, as GA advocates from around the world use the IAOPA World Assembly meetings to assess the pitfalls and successes of the industry, share insights, and emerge with a path forward for the collective betterment of GA for pilots worldwide.

Attendees also heard from FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker. As a private pilot, Whitaker engages in the aviation system both personally and professionally. His message to the global community focused on promoting safety, collaboration, and international cooperation. “We’ve collaborated in the U.S. with GA on a lot of initiatives like ADS-B,” Whitaker said. “We want to take that collaboration and extend it around the globe and particularly on safety issues to make sure we’re all working together as part of that safety ecosystem.”

Working alongside the FAA in this ecosystem is the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Ludovic Aron, U.S. EASA representative, spoke about the meaningful collaboration that happens at events such as the World Assembly and detailed the main elements of his role, which include promoting the policies and strategies of the European Union as they relate to aviation safety and EASA regulations and, conversely, to monitor what’s going on in the United States so he can assess how it will affect stakeholders. Most important to his role, which takes up most of his time, Aron said, “is how to enhance cooperation, how to work on the regulatory harmonization.”

“This week was an opportunity for the global GA community to unify and strengthen its shared vision to protect the freedom to fly,” Baker added. “The conversations this week have helped solidify our shared goals and reminded us of the importance of our continued collaboration.”

Several individuals were presented awards in recognition of their enduring commitment, leadership, and service to the international GA community. Distinguished Service awards were presented to Jaime Fabrega, vice president of IAOPA South America Region; Michael Erb, vice president of IAOPA Europe Region; and Hofmann, the IAOPA Representative to ICAO. Andrew Anderson, vice president of IAOPA Pacific Region, was presented with the first-ever Mark R. Baker International Leadership award.

The coalition ended the week celebrating the history and achievement of the GA industry by watching the National Celebration of General Aviation D.C. Flyover on May 11.

Lillian Geil
Communications Specialist
Communications Specialist Lillian Geil is a student pilot and a graduate of Columbia University who joined AOPA in 2021.
Topics: Advocacy, IAOPA

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