AOPA Tracking Incoming White House Team

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With lots of changes ahead for key Washington offices that affect general aviation, staffers from AOPA are busy working to ensure that the new appointees know exactly what GA pilots are concerned about. "We're meeting with members of the transition team and preparing briefing papers to be sure that the new administration is aware of our concerns and priorities," Andy Cebula, AOPA's executive vice president for government affairs, told AVweb on Wednesday. President-elect Barack Obama's choices for secretary of transportation and FAA administrator will have a big effect on the political and regulatory climate in which pilots will fly for the next four years. Cebula said he expects the DOT position will be filled later this month, but the FAA slot may take longer. He also said that with changes ahead for the Department of Homeland Security, he's hopeful that the much-maligned Large Aircraft Security Program, which currently is a proposed rule, will be modified substantially or perhaps scrapped altogether. "There's hope there for dramatic change," he said. However, he noted that GA is far down the list of DHS concerns, and it may be some time before Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, who has been nominated to be the new DHS Secretary, finds time to address GA matters. He also noted that in meetings with the transition team, AOPA has made clear that user fees are the number-one issue for GA pilots.

"We also made clear what we hope to see in the new FAA administrator," he said. "Somebody who's a pilot would be great. And we'd like to see somebody who could bring all of aviation together -- airlines and GA -- to encourage more discussion and interaction." He said AOPA also is lobbying for money in the expected economic stimulus package to go to improving infrastructure at GA airports and developing more WAAS approaches.