by Mark Baker
AOPA President & CEO
Published in Midwest Flyer – October/November 2017 issue
As I begin my fifth year of leading AOPA–and only the fifth person to do so in 78 years–I continue to be amazed at the breadth of work the organization undertakes on behalf of members and pilots everywhere. From every level of government and through every conceivable media channel, your staff works daily to improve the general aviation experience. The real DNA of this organization is advocacy work. And we have three big challenges facing us: the so-called privatization of air traffic control, fighting egregious prices and fees at certain FBOs, and implementing BasicMed. All three play a crucial role in the success of general aviation and protecting our freedom to fly.
AOPA efforts to fight ATC privatization have been in full throttle for months, with no sign of slowing down. Our government affairs experts in Washington are leading the charge while working alongside industry leaders and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The airlines will continue pushing for privatization until we have a long-term solution for FAA funding, and that’s why we urge you to keep reaching out to your Congressional representatives and remind them to vote NO on privatization!
We cannot risk handing over our skies to the airlines and we encourage you to join AOPA in the fight to protect GA. Please visit aopa.org/takeaction to reach your local representatives directly.
While the privatization debate in D.C. rages on, we’re also focused on battling egregious pricing at certain FBOs across the country and ensuring the successful implementation of BasicMed.
The continued consolidation in the FBO industry has created serious concerns from leaders across GA. This year, AOPA has collected hundreds of complaints from members regarding egregious FBO fees and pricing. Unreasonable practices and cost-prohibitive airport access can severely affect all aspects of general aviation and the surrounding economy. Unlike gas stations along a highway, just going somewhere else is not always a practical option in general aviation. While reaching out to community leaders, airport boards, and supervisors, we have been pleasantly surprised by overwhelmingly positive feedback and the desire to work together to protect GA.
Many communities have asked for help and some, have already taken steps to stand up for general aviation.
The overall theme in working with airport boards and community leaders has been reasonableness, transparency, and competition. Through collaboration, AOPA believes the contentious climate at many other locations can also be improved. For updates on AOPA’s egregious FBO pricing work, or to submit a report, visit aopa.org/FBOpricing.
Lastly, I know that many of you are aware of and already flying under BasicMed. We’ve seen great success so far with more than 15,000 pilots (and counting) now eligible to fly under the new rules that provide an alternative to third class medical certification. The Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority has also announced that pilots can now fly to the Bahamas under BasicMed, and as of August 11, the Civil Air Patrol has also begun allowing BasicMed. If you’re still interested in more information on BasicMed, you can visit our Fit to Fly resources at aopa.org/fittofly.
Looking forward to what the next five years bring.