GA Leaders Discuss Vital Factors

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On Friday morning at the FAA forecast conference in Washington, D.C., AOPA's Randy Kenagy discussed the change in attitude by his association's 410,000 members in its latest survey. Some 66 percent said that the political environment is “not so good,” even when 30 miles from the Bush administration; 80 percent of AOPA members were diverted last year due to a presidential temporary flight restriction (TFR). More than 90 percent would fly less if the FAA wins its proposed hike in fuel tax from 19.4 to 70.1 cents per gallon, while 334,000 AOPA members live “in the shadow” of Class B airspace and are threatened by user fees. Rusty Sachs, executive director of the National Association of Flight Instructors, saw plunging numbers. “I have no doubt there are 89,000 U.S. instructor certificates in wallets and desk drawers, but no more than 12,000 are actively training.” Sachs called the outlook “not rosy” to meet demand in emerging markets like China and India. Robert Olislagers, executive director of Denver’s Centennial Airport, said a quarter of Colorado’s gross domestic product is generated within five miles of Centennial Airport. He spoke anecdotally of a declining vigilance in GA security, such as unattended aircraft with open doors, and surveillance cameras used only for post-incident analysis. Donald Kenney, senior VP of Falcon Insurance Services, had “only good news” about GA insurance, citing three new players in the last 18 months, but he argued that the loss of one major airliner hull and its consequent liability could erase the entire 2006 “book” of $1.6 billion in written premiums. Kenney said recognition by insurers of the solid factory training planned for very light jet (VLJ) pilots would mean an easy assimilation.