AOPA Initiatives In Michigan, South Dakota, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota & Washington, DC

by Kyle Lewis
Regional Manager / Government Affairs & Airport Advocacy / Great Lakes
Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association
Published in Midwest Flyer – April/May 2018 issue

A good pilot is always learning. To that point, a highlight of the winter months was the Michigan Aviation Safety Forum (MASF) held at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. Organizer Jerry Delaney, along with members of the FAA’s FAAST Team, did an excellent job of bringing pilots and mechanics together for a full day of seminars. AOPA’s Andy Miller presented two topics: “Fly by Night” and “Accident Case Studies at Non-Towered Airports.”

Andy Miller is AOPA’s Great Lakes Region Ambassador for the “You Can Fly Program.” He consults with groups on starting and operating flying clubs, presents “Rusty Pilot” seminars across the region, and provides AOPA visibility at fly-ins and airshows with AOPA’s Re-Imagined Cessna 152 “Yellowbird.” If you get an opportunity to attend a seminar presented by Andy, I encourage you to do so. He is passionate about bringing lapsed pilots back into the air, and making sure they have the resources and knowledge to operate safely.

Throughout the day I had very positive conversations with pilots, and am currently working on some new airport issues that would have otherwise gone unknown to AOPA. Planning for MASF 2019 has started, and Andy Miller and I have both committed to attending and presenting for next year.

As I write this column, February is half over and planning is underway for “Powder River Council 2.” The meeting will be held April 5th at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. Stakeholders and state aviation officials from a four-state area, along with FAA, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), U.S. Air Force (USAF), and AOPA will be on hand to discuss remedies for communication and radar services throughout the large Powder River Special Use Airspace (SUA). AOPA’s goal is to create an open dialogue between the USAF and the civilian stakeholders using the airspace.

AOPA and NBAA created a short survey that has provided valuable input from members, and that information will be used when I visit congressional delegations from the four affected states in Washington, DC, prior to the April meeting. The purpose for the DC visit will be to educate legislators on the need for investment in upgraded communication and radar facilities, along with ADS-B equipage for military aircraft. AOPA’s Airspace Regulatory Director Rune Duke, and AOPA Legislative Manager Katie McMichael, will join me in this effort.

Regional Legislative Updates

Michigan House Bills 4350/4351 (maintenance tax exemptions on parts and labor for aircraft registered in Michigan) have passed the House, and are awaiting a full floor vote in the Senate. The outlook in the Senate vote is very positive.

The Michigan Business Aviation Association (MBAA) and AOPA have been compiling data and statistics to hand over to the Governor’s Office that will aid in thwarting off any chance of a veto. Gov. Snyder’s office has raised questions as to the loss in tax revenue if the exemption is put into effect vs. the loss in jobs and/or business.

As AOPA and MBAA have projected, the loss in jobs and downturn in operations for Part 91/135 show that Michigan is losing business to other states because of the lack of an exemption on parts and labor. Researching the topic, it was discovered that certain operations in Michigan are down as much as 30% compared to surrounding states.

Michigan Senate Bills 626/627 (Floatplane Protections) are still in committee. I wish I could have more to say about the outlook right now, but there has been little movement in the Transportation Committee to hold a vote. I am staying in contact with Sen. Marleau’s office to offer support or resources to move the legislation forward.

Ohio House Bill 370 (State Seal Modification) passed the Ohio House on February 14th and will move on to the Senate. This bill would modify the official state seal and add a depiction of the Wright Flyer. Obviously, this is long overdue as Ohio is home of the Wright Brothers, and nearly all their early test flights (aside from December 17, 1903) were made at Huffman Prairie, just outside of Dayton.  Plans are in the works for a “State Aviation Legislative Day” at the State Capitol in Columbus. A date in September is tentative, and more information will be forthcoming.

Indiana Senate Bill 66 (Tall Structure Permitting Near Public Use Airports) has been introduced in the Indiana Senate. The bill provides for a permitting process for structures to be built within 2 miles of a public-use airport. AOPA has raised questions if the process will conform to current Indiana Code and FAA Part 77 compliance. The bill lacks any information regarding the FAA 7460 processes already in place. It seems the bill is getting very little traction, and will most likely not be taken up under the current session which ended March 21, 2018.

Other Regional News of Note: I am planning an Airport Support Network Gathering in South Dakota, just before the South Dakota Aviation Conference, April 11-12, 2018. AOPA will host our volunteers and present an update to the program, and recruit new volunteers for the region. I will also be spending some time in South Dakota between Powder River and the aviation conference, making airport visits.

I am currently working with our airports staff on multiple airport issues across the region. Topics ranging from onerous hangar leases, land use issues, on-airport developments that could negatively impact GA, wind energy projects impacting airports, and noise and safety concerns from residential developments around airports.

Planning is underway for the Great Minnesota Aviation Gathering (GMAG) held at Anoka County-Blaine Airport (KANE) in April. Again, Andy Miller and I will both be on hand representing AOPA at the event. The Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association Safety Seminar is also on my calendar in May, expecting another great event connecting with our membership.

Ken Mead, AOPA’s Chief Legal Counsel, will take part in a panel discussion on FBO pricing at the Ohio Aviation Association (OAA) Conference in April. If you are an OAA member and will be attending the conference, make it a point to attend this discussion.

As always, please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns. I am here to serve you:

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