All posts tagged 'AOPA'

GARA: the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994

The General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994, or simply GARA, is a federal act that was implemented to amend the Federal Aviation Act (FAA) of 1958.

With a few exceptions to the law, it gave general aviation aircraft manufacturers much stronger protection from prosecution for accidents which were previously said to have been caused by manufacturer fault. Manufacturers embraced this amendment as it put an 18 year time-frame on how long they could be held responsible for a design defect. However, prior to the enactment of GARA, it was a different story altogether for many manufacturers of single and twin engine piston aircraft.

The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of General Aviation Aircraft Manufacturing

The late 1960's and early 1970's were said to have been the golden years for the aircraft manufacturing industry involved in building single and twin engine piston airplanes. However, towards the end of the 70s, during the period from 1978 to 1988, industry-wide employment fell by a devastating 65 percent. Aircraft manufacturing overall saw a massive decrease in new aircraft shipments, falling 95 percent, and over 100,000 people lost jobs in fields directly related to aircraft manufacturing in the United States.

Cessna Aircraft Company, Piper Aircraft and Beech Aircraft (now Beechcraft), the three leading general aviation aircraft manufacturers who accounted for over half the production of general aviation aircraft in the US, were among the hardest hit.

Cessna, who had been producing general aviation aircraft since its founding in 1927, posted the company's first annual loss in 1983. Virtually handicapped by previous liability exposure, Cessna was forced to halt production on all its single engine aircraft by 1986.

Piper Aircraft Company went in an out of bankruptcy, and was forced to suspend production on some of its most popular models, such as the Super Cub and PA-32 Cherokee Six / Saratoga.

Beech Aircraft shifted its emphasis away from piston / propeller aircraft, keeping the Beech Bonanza and Beech Baron in production and discontinuing all other piston / propeller aircraft models.

The cause for such a drastic drop in both jobs and the manufacturing of single and twin engine piston aircraft were the frequent lawsuits against the manufacturers. Manufacturers were able to be sued for manufacturing defects regardless of the number of years since the actual aircraft design had been developed, or used by customers. This was especially hard on aircraft manufacturers, as general aviation aircraft remained in use several decades after being manufactured, much longer than cars, or even most commercial airliners. These lawsuits became so prevalent in the 1980s that many attorneys began successfully specializing in targeting general aviation aircraft manufacturers and insurers with often frivolous lawsuits.

In fact, between 1983 - 86, Beech Aircraft defended itself against 203 lawsuits, each case costing them an average $530,000 to defend. Interestingly, while researching these cases, the NTSB found that none of the accidents could be attributed to manufacturing and design defects. Most were simply pilot error or another indirect fault.

The effect was widespread. In 1978, 18,000 general aviation aircraft were built, compared to only 928 aircraft in 1994, the year GARA was finally passed. The general aviation industry was suffering from a lack of new aircraft, particularly in the area of training, rental and charter use. The three most popular trainer aircraft, the Cessna 152, Piper Tomahawk and Beech Skipper had all been removed from the market by the mid 1980s, never to return. Russell Meyer, the CEO of Cessna at the time, cited product liability concerns as the sole reason for the halting production of single and twin engine general aviation aircraft.

The Birth of GARA

During the 80s and 90s, guided by Cessna CEO Russell Meyer and Ed Stimpson, the President of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the general aviation industry began applying pressure to congress. Their main request was for Congress to enact limits on product liability for aircraft manufacturers, and Meyer promised that if such legislation was enacted, he would bring single engine general aviation aircraft back into production at Cessna. Adding their voices to this cause were the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the largest US organization of private pilots and general aviation aircraft owners; the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union (IAM/IAMAW), representing workers at several general aviation aircraft factories; and a group of Kansas politicians, led by Senator Nancy Kassebaum. This proposed legislation became known as the "General Aviation Revitalization Act," or GARA.

GAMA, as one of the biggest advocates for the enactment of GARA, pointed out the fact that the money being put towards defending aircraft manufacturers against lawsuits could be better spent on improvements in overall aircraft safety and helping to develop new technologies for the good of the industry overall.

GARA is Signed into Law, and Aviation History

Finally, in 1994, GARA was passed by the Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton on August 17th, 1994. In its final form, GARA was a mere three pages long. Those three pages, however, provided manufacturers of general aviation aircraft (defined as aircraft containing less than 20 passenger seats, and not being operated in scheduled commercial service) with an exemption from liability for any of their products that were 18 years old or older from the date of an accident. There were some exceptions detailed, and this was a "rolling" statute, meaning that the 18 year time period was reset whenever modified or replacement parts were installed on an aircraft. In effect, a 25 year old aircraft could still be the object of a successful suit against a manufacturer if it contained manufacturer modifications or parts installed within the last 18 years.

GARA was immediately hailed by Cessna CEO Russell Meyers as a landmark step towards saving the general aviation industry.

"By placing a practical limit on product liability exposure, Congress has literally brought the light aircraft industry back to life."

Resuscitating a Dying Industry

Within five years of GARA coming into effect, the industry produced over 25,000 new aerospace manufacturing jobs. In addition, he U.S. Department of Labor estimated that there were also three extra support jobs created for every new manufacturing job. And the aircraft manufacturers begin to show signs of life, including the big three.

True to his word, Cessna CEO Russell Meyer brought back single engine aircraft manufacturing to Cessna, though in a much more limited manner. They resumed manufacturing their three most popular, and statistically safest single engine models. They began with the Cessna 172 and 182 in 1996, and added the 206 (developed from the popular retractable gear Cessna 210 model) back into the mix in 1998.

Piper Aircraft continued to experience financial troubles, but did continue producing the models that survived the 1980s, and even managed to restore some models to production that had been previously cut. This included the PA-32 Cherokee Six / Saratoga, and the twin engine Seminole and Seneca models. Eventually, Piper did emerge from bankruptcy, and some credit GARA for helping them survive that process.

Beech Aircraft continued producing the two piston-egine aircraft models that had survived the pre- GARA depression, the single engine Bonanza, and the twin-engine Baron, but never resumed production on any of the models it had cut during the 80s.

In addition to the increase in jobs, in the first five years following the passage of GARA, overall production of general aviation aircraft doubled. However, this was still far below the high point of the 1970s. And though production has continued to increase over time, it still hasn't returned to those levels.

In Conclusion

There is still ongoing debate about the overall effect, and effectiveness, of GARA. Opponents say that it had little effect, and mostly served to encourage attorneys to shift liability and lawsuits for accidents to new and different targets. Proponents, however, say that though the production rate has continued to climb, the general aviation accident rate has declined, pointing to safer manufacturing and advanced technology in the area of engines, avionics and navigation equipment. Glass cockpits now come standard in most new general aviation aircraft. National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen had this to say:

"GARA is a tiny, three-page bill that has generated research, investment and jobs. It is an unqualified success."

Others share this optimistic view of GARA, such as former Piper Aircraft President and CEO Chuck Suma, former AOPA president Phil Boyer, and Cirrus Designs co-founder Alan Klapmeier. And though this debate on the overall effect of GARA is likely to continue well into the future, this simple, three page document played a key role in helping shape the future of the general aviation industry.

Sources:

GARA: The General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994..." 2003. 30 Sep. 2015: https://www.avweb.com/news/news/184254-1.html

Kovarik, KV. "A Good Idea Stretched Too Far - Seattle University School of Law..." 2008: https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1843&context=sulr

"General Aviation Revitalization Act | GAMA - General ..." 2009. 30 Sep. 2015

https://www.gama.aero/advocacy/issues/product-liability/general-aviation-revitalization-act

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Aviation_Revitalization_Act

Big News from the Flying Musicians

Flying Musicians Assn

The Flying Musicians Association is again the proud recipient of a 2015 Wolf Aviation Fund grant to assist in strengthening the bonds between aviation and music in the FMA's programs that enhance outreach and education.

"We have re-focused our efforts of sharing our passions (aviation & music) with others through our outreach to inspire, educate, encourage and now assist youth (& adults) in growing through aviation and music." Says FMA President/CEO John Zapp.

Since 1992 the Wolf Aviation Fund has awarded special grants for efforts supporting and promoting general aviation. For example, among the more than 350 previous recipients is Sandra Campbell, in flying helmet and goggles, performing for students "Follow Your Dreams," a stage recreation of the exciting story of Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to win her wings as an aviator. Another small seed grant to School Superintendent Gordon Schimmel eventually resulted in a million dollar project creating and distributing a wonderful "Inventing Flight" Wright Brothers curriculum with videos and teachers guides to school systems across the United States. Other grants supported community outreach, technological development, airfield preservation, effective networking, organizational development, and inspiring the next generation.

Additionally, the Flying Musicians Association has announced that once again members will be on the ramp at each AOPA Fly-In across the country. FMA encourages all pilot / musicians and friends to participate. "This is about outreach!" says John Zapp, CEO FMA. "We want all who have a love of music to join us as we liven up the ramp while inspiring, encouraging, educating and now assisting folks to grow through aviation and music. Just as a pilot certificate is a certificate to learn, being a musician requires constant learning, practicing and performing. The AOPA Fly-Ins are a wonderful way for members to reunite across the country."

AOPA Fly-Ins will have something for everyone. Spend a Saturday with AOPA participating in aviation activities, exploring exhibits and seminars, enjoying a couple of meals, music and building relationships.

Look for FMA members set up on the ramp at the following locations:

  • 6/6 Frederick, MD (KFDK),
  • 8/22 Minneapolis, MN (KANE)
  • 9/26 Colorado Springs, CO (KCOS)
  • 10/10 Tullahoma, TN (KTHA)

Visit the FMA website for more information and to contact the FMA coordinator to participate.

About the Flying Musicians Association, Inc:

The Flying Musicians Association (FMA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization of pilots who are musicians, spanning the globe, proficiency levels and genres. The goal is to share our passions in order to inspire, educate, encourage and assist others by creating enthusiasm and promoting personal growth in aviation and music. "Pilot Musicians sharing their passion while encouraging and educating youth (& adults) in the science and art of aeronautics and music."

Drug Impairment Not Just an Aviation or Medical Certification Issue

EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wisconsin – (September 10, 2014) – The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday adopted recommendations to educate pilots on the potential impairment risks in prescription and over-the-counter medications, as use of such medications grows among the entire U.S. population.

NTSB also made six recommendations, four to the Federal Aviation Administration and two to state governments, on how to widen education efforts on impairment by such drugs as well as risks regarding marijuana use. NTSB will also issue a safety alert to pilots regarding the impairment risks of prescription and over-the-counter medications.

"The study focuses on general aviation pilots as a basis for considering the impact of medications on all transportation modes, because it is about the only data set available thanks to mandatory post mortem toxicological screening following fatal accidents. Other modes of personal and recreational transportation are not subject to these requirements," said Doug Macnair, EAA’s vice president of government relations. "This initial step does not single general aviation out from other transportation modes. NTSB researchers told the Board several times that there is still much to learn before any conclusions can be made. The aircraft accident rate has continued to fall over the 22-year period of the study, and accidents where impairment by medications or drugs are determined to be a causal factor have not increased over that period of time."

The recommendations came after a Board study showed that since 1990, the number of pilot fatalities involving impairment continued to be a minimal percentage. The most common drug found was diphenhydramine, often found in cold and allergy medications. The findings also showed, unsurprisingly, that prescription and over-the-counter medication use grew with the age of the pilots studied.

"Read the label and find information about these medications," responded Dr. Loren Groff, one of the NTSB researchers, when asked by Board member Mark Rosekind what pilots should take away from the study.

The researchers also mentioned that the findings do not cast any particular conclusion on those without medical certification, such as sport pilots, who were involved in fatal accidents. Board member Robert Sumwalt asked how the study might affect the push for third-class medical certification reform, but researchers agreed that more information was needed to establish any connection.

Among the recommendations made by the NTSB were four to the FAA:

  • Develop educational information for pilots about potentially impairing drugs, and make pilots aware of less impairing alternatives if they are available;
  • Gather more information about the flying activity of pilots not subject to medical certification;
  • Study the prevalence of drug use among pilots who are not involved in accidents;
  • Develop and distribute a clear policy regarding any marijuana use by airmen regardless of the type of flight operations.

NTSB also made two recommendations to states:

  • Medical providers make available much-needed information about the impairing effects of drugs – not only to pilots, but to operators of vehicles in any mode of transportation;
  • Use existing newsletters for doctors, pharmacists, and any other health professionals to help educate operators in all modes of transportation.

"We agree that there needs to be more education on the effects of medications and drugs in all modes of transportation," Macnair said. "We also believe that the medical education requirement included as part of the EAA/AOPA proposal for aeromedical reform addresses the knowledge gap that exists in the pilot population on the impairing effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Nothing in the medical certification process that exists today effectively accomplishes that.

"The goal of the EAA/AOPA medical reform effort is to reduce unnecessary cost and complexity of medical certification, while improving the education of pilots in a manner allowing them to make smart, informed decisions and thus enhance overall safety."

About EAA

EAA embodies the spirit of aviation through the world’s most engaged community of aviation enthusiasts. EAA’s 185,000 members and 1,000 local chapters enjoy the fun and camaraderie of sharing their passion for flying, building and restoring recreational aircraft. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 800-JOIN-EAA (800-564-6322) or go to www.eaa.org . For continual news updates, connect with www.twitter.com/EAAupdate .

The Fight for Santa Monica Airport - A Timeline

"The Spirit of Santa Monica," was donated to the city by the Museum of Flying and was fully restored, and is on display at the Santa Monica Airport. The monument stands as a tribute to the legendary aircraft builder Donald Wills Douglas, Sr. and the company he founded, Douglas Aircraft Company – the city’s largest employer for 50 years. This photo can be found among many others at the Santa Monica Airport website.

Recent events regarding the future of the Santa Monica Airport (SMO) have played out across the news and websites of aviation organizations NBAA, AOPA and FAA. I went back in the archives of online news reports to build a timeline of events that have led to the recent federal court’s ruling.


June 2, 2011 - The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today welcomed an announcement that City of Santa Monica officials would not contest a federal court's ruling that the city could not ban "Category C and D" aircraft from Santa Monica Airport (SMO). The council's announcement, made earlier this week, follows a January 21 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in favor of a decision by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the city's most recent attempt to ban the aircraft amounted to "unjust and unreasonable" discrimination and violated the terms of a grant agreement for accepting federal funds for the airport.

The controversy dates to 2008, when Santa Monica city officials adopted a ban against the Category C and D jets from serving SMO, on alleged safety grounds.The city's move was immediately challenged by the FAA, which ruled that the airport did not have the authority to impose the ban, and disallowed it from taking effect until the FAA could further consider the matter, with a decision from the agency being subject to a federal court appeal. Link to Details


May 7, 2013 - The Santa Monica City Council directed city staff to continue exploring options for the future of the Santa Monica Airport, including the possible impacts of a partial or complete closure. In a unanimous vote, council members voted to focus on finding ways to reduce airport noise, air pollution and safety risks through revised leasing policies, voluntary agreements and restrictions. City staff were also directed to continue to assess the potential risks and benefits of a full or partial closure of the airport.

Early on in the meeting, City Attorney Marsha Jones Moutrie outlined the city's legal options in the exploration of the future of the Santa Monica Airport. She said city staff met with representatives from the FAA to convey community sentiment about noise, safety and air quality, but did not reach a deal. Moutrie said the city owns the airport, but the city's choices are limited by federal law and several agreements, adding that the FAA has both legislative and judicial powers. The city believes its agreement with the FAA expires in 2015, while the FAA maintains the date is 2023. Link to Details


September 29, 2013 - A Cessna Citation CJ2 veered off the right side of Runway 21 after landing at Santa Monica (Calif.) Airport at 6:20 p.m. PDT. The twinjet struck a hangar and was destroyed by fire. The pilot of the plane that crashed at Santa Monica Airport, killing all four people aboard, reported no problems prior to the landing, and the plane's tires were fully inflated, despite early speculation that a blown tire may have sent the aircraft careening into a hangar, according to a preliminary report. The hangar collapsed onto the plane, which had taken off from Hailey, Idaho.

"Witnesses reported observing the airplane make a normal approach and landing," according to the NTSB report. "The airplane traveled down the right side of the runway, eventually veering off the runway, impacted the 1,000-foot runway distance remaining sign, continued to travel in a right-hand turn and impacted a hangar structural post with the right wing. The airplane came to rest inside the hangar and the damage to the hangar structure caused the roof to collapse onto the airplane. A post-accident fire quickly ensued.'' Link to Details


October 31, 2013 - In the wake of September's deadly jet crash, Santa Monica officials sued the Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday to gain control of the city's embattled airport, which local groups want to turn into a park. Filed in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles, the lawsuit seeks a declaration that the city holds clear title to the 227 acres containing the oldest continuously operating airport in the county. It also challenges the constitutionality of a 1948 agreement between the city and federal authorities that requires the historic property and its 5,000-foot runway to remain an airport in perpetuity or be returned at the option of the FAA to the U.S. government.

If the city is successful, there is concern among aviation organizations that it might alter the status of former military airports around the nation and encourage attempts to close some of them.

FAA officials declined to comment, saying that as a matter of policy they do not discuss pending litigation. The agency's long-held position is that the city must operate the airport through 2023 under assurances it gave in exchange for federal airport improvement grants. The FAA also has asserted that Santa Monica is further obligated to keep the airport open well beyond 2023 because it acquired the much improved airfield after World War II under terms of the federal Surplus Property Act. FAA officials have said in the past that they are committed to preserving the federal investment and keeping the airport open. Link to Details


Feb. 10, 2014 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) today joined in filing a brief of amicus curiae supporting a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) motion to dismiss the latest effort to close the historic airfield.

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen called the battle over SMO a "bellwether moment" in preserving other vital general aviation (GA) airfields across the country. "Santa Monica's latest attempt to close its community airport carries very serious ramifications for the continued viability of our nation's general aviation airports," he added. "It is imperative that the FAA maintain jurisdiction over SMO, and other essential airports that our Members rely upon for convenient access to communities across the United States."

The FAA countered last month that any questions over which entity holds the title to SMO must be settled under terms of the Quiet Title Act, which requires such lawsuits to be filed within 12 years following learning of the federal government’s interest in the property. That first occurred, the agency asserted, when both parties agreed in August 1948 to return control of the airfield to the city. Link to Details


Feb. 13, 2014 - A federal judge ruled in favor of the position advocated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), namely that the city’s challenge to the requirement that Santa Monica Airport (SMO) continue to be a publicly-accessible airport was untimely. Link to Details


Mar. 25, 2014 - Marsha Moutrie, City Attorney, and Martin Pastucha, Director of Public Works for the City of Santa Monica, prepared a report that offered several options to restrict operations at SMO. Recommended option included directing staff to begin positioning the City for possible closure of all or part of the Santa Monica Airport ("Airport") after July 1, 2015, including, for instance, by preparing a preliminary conceptual plan for a smaller airport that excludes the Airport's western parcel and by preparing preliminary work plans for environmental assessment. The CA City Council voted 6 to 0 to pursue further restrictions. Link to Report Details

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen replied, "It is clear that, despite a significant, recent legal setback, the council has voted to renew its efforts to restrict services at an important general aviation airport," Bolen said. "For decades, NBAA and others in the general aviation community have fought to preserve access to this airport, in the face of ongoing opposition by the city council. This is a battle we must and will continue to fight." Read the complete response from the NBAA at this Link to Details


For a more detailed overall history of the airport, check out their history page here.

Music and Aviation: A Match Made in the Sky

Dee Welch, a member of the Seaplane Pilots Association (FMA Corporate Member), has donated a guitar to be raffled off to support the Seaplane Pilots Association's New Headquarters project and the Flying Musicians Association. This is just one example of the projects the FMA is involved in.

"Many people don’t have a passion; we are fortunate enough to have two!"

This is the driving force behind the Flying Musicians Association – a non-profit 501c3 organization that is bringing aviation and music together – according to co-founder John Zapp. Formed in 2008 and incorporated a year later, Zapp and Aileen Hummel formed the company to aid pilots who are musicians to share their passions in order to inspire, educate, and encourage others by creating enthusiasm and promoting personal growth in both fields.

The FMA has an extensive list of goals – the first of which is to encourage youth to embrace STEAM power (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) through the use of aviation and music. Zapp and Hummel noticed much discussion for the need to grow the pilot population, and have identified musicians and music students as the most likely demographic to succeed. The musically-inclined have an aptitude for listening, scanning, multi-tasking and their pursuit of perfection – all skills and practices needed for piloting aircraft. The US Air Force completed a study of students in their flight training program to see which academic fields were the most successful in completing flight training. It wasn't the engineers who had the highest percentage of completion or any other discipline, it was the music students.

The FMA has already established chapters at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, the University of Texas at Arlington, and the Western Michigan University in an effort to extend their goals into learning institutions, and continue to seek expansion into other colleges, high schools, and aviation communities. They have also received a partial grant from the Wolf Aviation Fund to help FMA spearhead the "Focus on the Future" program held at the FAPA.aero Global Pilot Career Conference & Job Fairs and the Regional Airline Pilot Job Fairs.

Zapp attributes much of their success so far to their own promotion, as well as their corporate members, which include organizations such as the AOPA, Sky-Tec, That Other Label, Barmstorming the Movie, Bose," Zapp listed as an example.

You can show your support for their cause as well – it’s only $25/year to become a member ($15 for students), and special rates for Life and Corporate Members as well. Funding, grants and sponsorships are their greatest need to continue the growth they’re experienced for the last five years.

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