We Must Be Proactive!

by Kyle Lewis
Regional Manager for Government Affairs and Airport Advocacy / Great Lakes / AOPA
Published in Midwest Flyer – February/March 2020 issue     

In the Airports and State Advocacy Department of the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA), we are always trying to look ahead and be proactive on legislative and airport issues. Thankfully, we have proactive members who also have their eyes and ears open at the local level.

Our department at AOPA is somewhat unique from other AOPA staff in that we interact with our membership daily on issues affecting GA, specifically airports. AOPA does house the “Pilot Information Center” under the membership services sector, and they do an excellent job at answering general questions on Federal Aviation Regulations, buying/selling aircraft, medical-related questions and the like.

Our interactions with Airport Support Network (ASN) Volunteers can last months, if not years in some cases. We are currently working alongside our membership across the country on legislative and airport-related issues that will have an impact on general aviation.

In 2019, we recruited over 200 new ASN Volunteers to help support their own local airport and be that direct line of communication to AOPA. In 2020, we will be hosting a series of webinars in each region, focusing on airport-related topics, such as grant assurance interpretation, airspace, hangar leases, airport operations, and other pertinent topics our volunteers may find useful. We will be bringing in guest presenters from our legal staff, airspace experts, and in some cases, industry experts outside of AOPA, to answer questions. I encourage you to become involved and take part in the ASN program. Visit www.aopa.org/asn for more information and to sign up as a volunteer!

Ask & You Shall Receive

On December 5th, 2019, a new round of charting updates was released as part of the usual charting cycle. The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, AOPA, and the general aviation community have something to be proud of. St. Paul Downtown Airport (KSTP) had a new airport diagram released (see graphic attached) that included a notation of “GA Transient Ramp” located to the west of the administration and customs facility. This notation was the culmination of working with MAC staff, specifically Joe Harris, Director of Reliever Airports. Joe, a pilot and aircraft owner himself, understands the need for logical and common-sense airport diagram terminology when it comes to GA parking areas.

The MAC is one of the largest airport authorities in the United States and AOPA applauds the inclusion of our charting and transparency initiative in their planning and charting policies. Joe Harris has also commented “The Metropolitan Airports Commission is a proud partner of AOPA’s airport diagram initiative. The recommended GA parking labels give pilots more clarity on parking options. MAC has forged a strong partnership with AOPA to assist both FBOs and pilots to build ultimate success and transparency.”

As we all know, each airport is different and may require creative solutions regarding identifying and charting GA transient parking areas. This is where you as a pilot and productive member of the aviation community can help. Have a conversation with airport leadership, attend an airport commission meeting or talk to the local FBO manager and work on any issues at the local level.

AOPA is working diligently to provide an avenue for fee transparency in our “AOPA Airport Directory.” Any airport or FBO can contact AOPA and receive a login to edit fee (see inset graphic of FBO section) structures in the airport directory, and it is absolutely free to do so. AOPA is also working with the FAA and other industry stakeholders on standard terminology for GA parking areas, as the MAC has already adopted.

This is not a one-size-fits-all solution to every airport or FBO issue, but simple common-sense changes can make a big difference.

It is important to emphasize that AOPA supports a competitive and healthy FBO market. FBOs around the country, large and small, provide excellent service to GA operations. AOPA is committed to providing our industry knowledge and resources to any airport, operator, or FBO on how to make their experience more suitable to the aviation community!

New Director of Regulatory Affairs

I would like to introduce you to a new member of the AOPA team who has ties to the Midwest, Christopher Cooper. Chris recently joined the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association as Director of Regulatory Affairs, and is responsible for the development and management of aviation regulatory and certification policy on such issues as UAS/UAM, airman certification, security, flight training, operational regulations, and safety concerns. Chris has over 20 years of experience in the aerospace industry. Prior to AOPA, Chris held positions as an aviation claims attorney with Global Aerospace, First Officer with ExpressJet Airlines on the Embraer 145, and most recently, Assistant Professor at the University of North Dakota. Chris holds bachelor’s degrees from the University of North Dakota and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of North Dakota School of Law. Chris will be attending AOPA events, so please stop by our information centers and welcome him!

It is a privilege to serve you! (kyle.lewis@aopa.org)

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