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GA Needs a Break (Please)

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When we report the news, especially the news about the FAA, we do so as if observing a dense, featureless black cube at street level. Occasionally, a statement of some sort emerges from the cube which we quote and this passes for “news.” In other words, we don’t have even a muddled picture of what actually animates the people inside the cube, although we can guess.

I see this all the time when I cover events where FAA officials are on the dais as featured speakers. When this happens, the script is predictable. The exec tells the audience what it wants to hear and by the end of it, you’d swear the guy is on your side. This is especially true when the topic is regulatory relief, which is a fashionable trend of late. At last year’s Aero show in Friedrichshafen, I got my ear bent several times by regulators and alphabet reps who are absolutely convinced that a new dawn is upon us, at least with regard to simplified aircraft certification rules. Are these people sincere or just blowing smoke? I absolutely think they are sincere. You can find at any level in the FAA people who are smart, capable, dedicated and get that GA is being ground to dust by overregulation and overbearing adjudication of minor rules. Yet, like a steamroller with no brakes, the FAA rolls on unhindered by evidence of regulatory restraint.

Why is this? It’s because big bureaucracies like the FAA are buffeted by the whim of political winds and are all but unmanageable from the top. So they’re nudged and jollied along by the desk dwellers in the trenches and no matter how sincere an individual FAA exec might be in appearing genuinely sympathetic at AirVenture or Sun ‘n Fun, he eventually has to deal with the hive when he goes home. (And now the hive is joined to other international hives so like it or not, what happens in Europe and Asia doesn’t stay in Europe and Asia.) Government agencies, like corporate entities, are composed of competing and often contradictory compartments. Even the people inside are sometimes baffled by the decisions that emerge from this construct.

And that’s not the worst of it. I really believe that the FAA, and perhaps the NTSB too, has little collective sense of how fragile the GA economy has become and how desperately it needs a lot less intrusion and a lot more injection of friendly governmental promotion of the sort I seem to recall existed during the 1970s, when I started flying. I’m probably delusional in remembering it that way, but I recall the agency was once as much service organization as it was regulator. Some people used to call that “old FAA.” Budget cuts and political entropy have eroded that.

So, like the old McDonald’s ads used to say, we deserve—need—a break today. The break I have in mind is this: Regulators need to inherently understand that the entire GA industry is so beset by difficult economics, soft sales, discouraging demographics and just flat-out depressing trends that the last thing it needs is more unnecessary regulation that nobody sees as beneficial.

I hate to say it, but we’ve probably wrestled GA safety improvements to a draw and not to sound too negative, but we’re not able to afford or tolerate impositional changes that will move that needle down much, if that’s even feasible.

As I’ve reported before, there’s compelling evidence that over-regulation has actually produced a diminution in safety. Want another example? The FAA’s decision to restrict hours earned toward the instrument rating on some desktop sims. This adds more cost to the rating for no discernible benefit and is just another reason not to train.

And we’re dealing with perceptions here, plus patience stretched to the breaking point. Additional regulation may or may not de facto increase the cost of flying, but the perception is that new rules do add costs and many in GA are hanging on with their fingernails as it is now. Just the mere mention of things like the recently proposed sleep apnea diagnosis requirement is discouraging enough to drive some pilots out of GA, I’m sure. Just look at the responses to Mark Rosekind’s guest blog explaining the rationale for the sleep apnea proposal. I think it’s fair to say this will foretell the docket comments in an NPRM, if this rule makes it that far. If we all vote no, must we still suffer the imposition of such rules?

What I most wish for, I suppose, is for the people who propose these regs—and the ones clinging to the idea that the Third Class medical requirement really has merit—to actually go out and rub elbows with the people in GA and listen to what they say. These are real people who have made real investments in expensive airplanes and equipment. Their interests create real jobs at real companies that these regulatory proposals harm in measureable ways in return for benefits that we, the regulated, don’t see and rarely want.

This industry needs every shard of help it can get, not more reasons in the from of regulation that simply discourage people from staying in it, much less coming into it.

Join the conversation.
Read others' comments and add your own.

Comments (47)

I think it is clear that the FAA has an agenda: The termination of piston GA by death of a thousand cuts.

What percentage of FAA employees do you think are actually active GA pilots who suffer all of the frustrations of other pilots? I bet it is less than 3%. How can people with no skin in the game RUN the game?

Go out and fly while you can, my friends.

Todd

Posted by: TODD PRICE | January 11, 2014 2:26 PM    Report this comment

Completely agree with Todd above. It really feels like the FAA wants to end GA VFR / Pleasure Flying, perhaps to make the air more open to drones in a couple years? It may be that commercial, IFR operations are okay - for now - but lost is where it all begins. Can't be an ATP if you don't start in something small.

Pete

Posted by: Peter Hamilton | January 11, 2014 4:22 PM    Report this comment

I think it is even worse than that, Pete. The FAA and airlines may not think that future ATPs need to start in something small.

50 years (probably much less) from now, newbie airline pilots will be young people that have NEVER FLOWN A REAL AIRPLANE. From scratch they will go straight into very sophisticated simulators at airline or government academies and then onto "flying" the line. They will not go through the current rating chase and hour building that has always been the standard path. There will not be GA airports with ramps full of nicely refurbished, 100 year old Cessnas.

What light airplane GA will still exist then?

I can imagine expensive "aviation nostalgia vacations" where a wealthy few are flown to an exotic island (or similar type place) where you can spend a month flying a "real airplane" and maybe even solo. It will be like a safari is today - some quick, fun pretending. But there probably won't even be enough interest for that to happen.

All you eternal optimist out there, PLEASE tell me how wrong I am and explain how things are going to be fine. I want to still believe there is hope!

Todd

Posted by: TODD PRICE | January 11, 2014 5:48 PM    Report this comment

Pilots, particularly those not flying for an airline, and airplanes, specifically those that can be easily gotten and used by individuals, are now seen as a threat rather than an asset by our now all powerful political class. It is somewhat the same as has transpired with firearms, where the Director of Civilian Marksmanship program once sought to encourage the use of rifles because such skills were believed to be a national asset especially in time of war, but now the possession and use of firearms has seen increasing restrictions, and owners and users are increasingly portrayed as extremists and at best politically incorrect.

Remember when the space race was the driving popular force behind a generation of engineers, pilots, and nightly news? What have we now? Terrorism, income redistribution, global warming, taxes, gun control, the knockout game, and a nation more divided by goals and values than ever before.

Not only are the constraints on flying and flight being ever increased but we are now the suspects of an entirely new generation of alphabet law enforcement and counter terrorism agencies like DHS and TSA. Pilots are getting stopped, searched, and treated like suspects merely for flying in a suspicious way.

It is clear GA is seen by the political class as a threat because it is another power like the right to keep arks to be taken from a people who increasingly are willing to abrogate their freedoms for what they think is better security. Why let citizens fly and perhaps see things that we would rather erase from google earth.

The FAA is likely just an unwitting player in this mix. It is probably being turned into just another useful idiot by those that would be just fine if the front line had no idea what strings were really being pulled on the likes of the administrator by those that appoint them. By keeping the real agenda hidden from the troops you can get them to feel good all while stumping any headway they might make by killing it with friendly fire. Please prove me wrong.

Posted by: FILL CEE | January 11, 2014 9:51 PM    Report this comment

'Pilots...are now seen as a threat rather than an asset by our now all powerful political class.'

Good grief. Legalization of pot and gay marriage are transforming the land and eventually will be commonplace, all happening under the peering eye of the 'all powerful political class', but the little GA pilot has so much influence he's a threat? We have to stop this wrong thinking that everyone is out to get us. Actually, indifference is probably our biggest threat, on all sides.

I honestly don't think they (the FAA and top gov't officials) will come to us. Maybe they see GA as a dense, featureless black cube, too, and don't 'have even a muddled picture of what actually animates the people inside the cube, although we(they) can guess.' I can only keep up the good fight as I know how, by flying and promoting GA every chance I get.

Posted by: David Miller | January 12, 2014 8:48 PM    Report this comment

Paul, you are quite on target. Your observations have been captured by those of us in GA many times. There is an increasing negative and blind force emanating from FAA regulators. This gives the impression of a careless regulatory effort to impress the nonflying public whithout concern about the unintended consequences. It appears as if the FAA considers general aviation as lacking in importance. GA is the base for commercial aviation and ultimately the very reason and purpose for the FAA - Safety and the futherance of American aviation.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | January 12, 2014 11:27 PM    Report this comment

The cynical side of me says that light private aircraft aren't viewed as threats by the FAA et al--they're just viewed as inconveniences. Those airplanes (and we the pilots who fly them) make the FAA divert budget, manpower, and other resources from what it sees as its "real" customers--airlines and business jets. It seems the only thing that's kept the FAA from finishing the job and regulating light aircraft out of existence is that it can't get enough resources together to do it all at once.

The realist in me says Rafael is probably more correct--the high-up decision makers have no skin in the game, no personal connection to GA or even aviation in general, and their bosses (politicians whose only aviation involvement is getting on an airliner) lean on them to satisfy the general public (who also have no aviation involvement besides being airline passengers). They don't even write regulations because they see a problem and misinterpret it--instead, they write regulations based on what they *imagine* the problems would be in their internal, uninformed model of how they *imagine* aviation works.

Posted by: Bob Martin | January 13, 2014 7:04 AM    Report this comment

Bob, funny you should mention "model." Several years ago, I was at a small and rural hospital conference where a presentation was made by a senior aide to Senator Stark. He frequently referred to their "Models" and how their "models' proved this and that. Later I asked him to please come spend a week at our small rural hospital and see how things actually worked. I offered to pay all expenses. His answer was "That is totally unnecessary and not how things are done." In other words, actual knowledge of the subject is not a requirement for governance, besides it might not agree with the Models which cannot be wrong.

Posted by: Richard Montague | January 13, 2014 7:40 AM    Report this comment

I agree with Dave's statement, "We have to stop this wrong thinking that everyone is out to get us. Actually, indifference is probably our biggest threat, on all sides."

A fair number of the non-pilots I know (and who aren't family members) are generally just indifferent to aviation, and neither care if more regulations are imposed on us, nor do they actively suggest more should be imposed. Sure, the news media outlets may often suggest or imply more regulation will solve all the problems, but for the most part, I think people in general are wiser than this.

However, this just seems to be human nature, and nothing nefarious. I don't own any guns, and have no desire to, so I'm generally indifferent to gun regulation. I don't ask for more regulation, but I'm not opposed to new ones either. Though I will admit a certain degree of selfishness, since guns are less regulated than GA (just try flying in the Washington DC area without following the rules, versus quietly choosing to not follow certain gun regulations).

What GA really needs are more positive presentations of itself. Rather than just the evening news about another small GA crash/forced landing, we need more news segments about a local pilot spotting a forest fire and helping the local FD locate the fire, or how yet another GA pilot helped fly a sick patient for treatment.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | January 13, 2014 7:48 AM    Report this comment

Wow! Criticism of the FAA! I've read the major GA magazines for 40 years. No matter how convoluted, pointless, outdated, or counterproductive a regulation or procedure they describe, it is presented matter-of-factly, as if it were as inevitable as the wind.

Posted by: kevin goff | January 13, 2014 8:10 AM    Report this comment

"That is totally unnecessary and not how things are done." In other words, actual knowledge of the subject is not a requirement for governance, besides it might not agree with the Models which cannot be wrong."

Priceless, Richard. And a concise summary of the problem.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | January 13, 2014 8:19 AM    Report this comment

Seems like the desire to fly a personal aircraft is cause for suspicion.

Posted by: MICHAEL MUETZEL | January 13, 2014 8:31 AM    Report this comment

I remember when Jimmy Carter was president and the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Joan Claybrook, was a militant protege of Ralph Nader. I remember the hostility towards the automobile and the desire to saddle the automobile with ever more and more safety demands, that characterized her leadership of NHTSA. It wouldn't surprize me that, with the current administration, a lot of people in government have that same attitude towards cars and also general aviation airplanes too.

But it isn't only government people that are the problem. A while back I read a column in Plane & Pilot magazine, in which the columnist advocated mandatory ballistic recover parachutes. Now if a given pilot-owner wants such, or if an aircraft OEM like Cirrus makes B.R. parachutes standard equipment, that's one thing. But do we really want the government mandating said parachutes? If the government starts laying demands like that on the general aviation aircraft industry, what's next? Mandatory minimum passenger miles per gallon requirements? That's the kind of thing we can expect when those who don't like privately owned cars and airplanes, get into positions of power.

Posted by: Alex Kovnat | January 13, 2014 8:45 AM    Report this comment

I have been reading stories about the death of GA since I started flying six years ago. I haven't seen a drop off in flying activity. My A&P class is filled with young people eager to learn about aviation flying. The dropzone I fly for continues to operate a 182 and 206 for profit under Part 91, which is a relatively low regulatory burden. As an aircraft owner, I haven't experienced any regulatory changes which have cost me a significant amount of money. The issues I always hear about are lead free avgas and the 2020 ADS-B equipment mandate, both of which I fully support.

Posted by: RYAN TURNER | January 13, 2014 8:54 AM    Report this comment

About mandatory ADS-B: Will this reduce or eliminate incidents of aircraft, including major league Part 121 aircraft (i.e. Southwest Airlines 737, Flight 4013), landing at the wrong airport?

Posted by: Alex Kovnat | January 13, 2014 9:21 AM    Report this comment

Indifference is, by far, our biggest enemy. No one cares.

No one is out to get us. It's not worth their while; what is there to get? Such a mindset presumes that GA figures large in some grand scheme of things. It doesn't. The problem is, we don't figure at all because No. One. Cares. As far as I can tell, those with power don't really know what we do: we're an enigma. That's a problem that only we can solve.

Posted by: Kim Elmore | January 13, 2014 9:54 AM    Report this comment

As pilots, we need to make rational, fact based decisions whenever we fly. We do this as a matter of survival. Politicians are faced with no such difficulties. Their only concern is to get re-elected. So Todd Price's comment about having "No skin in the game" really resonates with me.

Ric

Posted by: Ric Lee | January 13, 2014 10:14 AM    Report this comment

WRT to skin in the game: A friend recently made a non-STC'd mod to his Stearman that required an FAA field approval. The young inspector showed up and was directed to the airplane sitting next to a J-3 Cub. The inspector asked, "which one is the Stearman?"

Posted by: William Grant | January 13, 2014 11:02 AM    Report this comment

A couple of comments resonate with me--the idea that the FAA was more friendly in olden times, and that current high muckety mucks at the FAA have no skin in the game.

When I learned to fly in the early 70s, the FAA was indeed more friendly. I had many contacts with the FAA from the mid 70s through the mid 80s, chairing the board of a small airport serving Part 121 flights. We knew who we had to deal with, we could talk with them face to face, and we got things done. We knew the regional inspectors, and although there were occasional autocrats among them, they were few and far between, largely because they were "one of us"--they flew the PA 28s and the 182s and the Bonanzas which they owned.

But do today's FAA muckety mucks do that? Look at their ratings, and tell me that they don't fly the Citations and the King Airs that are on their certificates--sure they do--but don't try to convince me that they actually own those high priced machines--those are undoubtedly FAA-owned and FAA maintained and the operational expenses come out of the FAA budget, so that their highly qualified pilots have no skin in the game.

On the other hand, what do you expect from a government where few of the Congressional delegations from any state, and fewer of the government "leaders" in the executive branch, whether elected or appointed, have any experience at all doing what they regulate? Most of their resumes show nothing but government employment (note I didn't use the word "service") all of their working lives.

Very disappointing to this old curmudgeon.

Posted by: Cary Alburn | January 13, 2014 1:01 PM    Report this comment

Cary, risking increasing your potential dissappointment, I consider my work with the VA to be an essential service and am hard-pressed to think of any colleague who doesn't. But we get the hatred, believe me.

Funny, though, how few even care to admit or illuminate, as Paul astutely aligned in the blog, that huge corporations are 'composed of competing and often contradictory compartments, just like the government. Even the people inside are sometimes baffled by the decisions that emerge from this construct.' Since they're 'free-market' they get a pass usually, even as many are destroying the middle class - and GA indirectly.

Skin in the game is only relevant if the big picture and overall relevancy of the mission or purpose is not the driver, or if more influencial issues or groups take precidence. Examples might be safety, airline dominance, and public fear and indifference in GA's case. Not one of the several admins in our dept. is a veteran or holds a degree in relevant application to veteran's issues. But they listen to us and (keep this hush) do exactly what we say because it's not their job to interfere. We tell them so. :)

How can we get our issues resolved and listened to better and more effectively? Easy, recruit Dennis Rodman for our side. As several questioned above, show me I'm wrong!

Posted by: David Miller | January 13, 2014 2:37 PM    Report this comment

Dave Miller, thank you for your service to our veterans.

Regarding regulation: Like a giant zip-tie, you can only tighten them. Unfortunately, I believe that no one in the government is going to take the political or legal risks upon themselves to for example, eliminate the 3rd Class medical. The problem is that the zip-tie is getting so tight that GA is turning blue from lack of oxygen.

There was a time when a friendly FSDO would consider and even sign off on routine field approvals especially when they benefitted safety; they did so for my disc brakes and shoulder harnesses by my understanding is that none of that happens anymore; you have to hire a DER and go through great expense and time to get anything approved today. I don't know what the solution is, but something needs to happen soon or our freedom to fly will be no more. I'm just floored by these zingers that come out of nowhere; first, sleep apnea testing and now, suddenly simulators are no good. What's next? Mandatory exercise routines? Proof of healthy diets? Or will the "annual inspection" of your aircraft become "monthly inspections"?

Posted by: A Richie | January 13, 2014 4:55 PM    Report this comment

A Richie.... Maybe, but I can see the day when a proctal exam becomes part of a ramp check!

Posted by: Richard Mutzman | January 13, 2014 7:49 PM    Report this comment

A. Richie, you speak the truth. I've been flying since 1953, have had an A&P for 40 years and I.A. for 29 years. There are still some good guys in the FSDO's, but sadly, they are sadled with rules coming from above. Nobody there is allowed to used common sense anymore. How about a FSDO in one region approving a different engine installation in a Cessna 180 and a FSDO in another region grounding the airplane. When the paperwork was shown to them,from 15 years before, they said the other FSDO made a mistake. This, after 15 years of trouible free flying with that engine. Now when you want a Field Approval, its fill out all of this paperwork quoting what regulations allow this modification, instead of the old way of sitting down with a knowledgable maintenance inspector and him saying Yes, that looks good to me and signing the Form 337 approval block. The main problem, I suspect, is the FAA lawyers.

Posted by: Richard Warner | January 13, 2014 8:32 PM    Report this comment

Now that I'm back to consulting, I do sorely miss GA. The FAA could do a lot to help the industry. Small businesses would be great for GA and GA would be great for small business. Unfortunately the Federal Government seems to want to kill off both instead of encouraging either. Flying the commercial airlines stinks. A 388 KM trip that takes 2.5 hours in a faster GA airplane takes 6 hours by commercial airlines and 7.5 hours to drive. A GA airplane is the obvious choice.

Posted by: DANA NICKERSON | January 13, 2014 9:19 PM    Report this comment

"I have been reading stories about the death of GA since I started flying six years ago. I haven't seen a drop off in flying activity. "

1980-2012 decline stats: 90% decline in piston aircraft and engine deliveries - resulting in 2.5 million industry workers to be unemployed over the period. 35% to 45% decline in GA towered airport operations. 35% decline in the active pilot population and continues to decrease at an average of 1% annually. Over 2,000 flight schools have closed, a 50% decline. The decline continues Ryan Turner.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | January 14, 2014 5:17 AM    Report this comment

I think one of the biggest issues affecting GA is the lack of interest by young people in aviation. Its simply not a very big draw to those in their 20's and 30's. Yes there are some in that demographic pursuing aviation as a hobby and/or career but I believe the percentage of that population with an interest is pretty low.

As regards cost, I still see a very active and robust recerational boating industry with people committing very large dollars to boating. Flying not so much.

A lessening in cost and regulation will not make much difference until more people posses the desire to fly.

Posted by: Bruce Cynamon | January 14, 2014 1:49 PM    Report this comment

With the way the press covers aviation, who would want to take responsibility from getting anyone form here to there?

Posted by: MICHAEL DAVIS | January 14, 2014 2:38 PM    Report this comment

Let's also consider the plight of GA airports. Not to sound like the enemy, but there are places in this country where there are several airports competing for a shrinking pilot population. They don't earn enough revenue to pay for needed capital improvements that are not easily FAA grant-eligible, like T-hangars. There are few airports around that don't have a bona fide waiting list for hangar space. Why not let some of the lesser used, but also federally-obligated GA airports close and sell the land for current market value? The proceeds from the sale can be poured back into airports within their region so that projects like T-hangars can move forward, or other important projects can be undertaken. It would help those airports and allow them to earn more revenue to pay for other projects that are needed, like an AWOS, or taxiway edge lighting, apron security lighting, a longer and wider runway, and the list goes on. It's the list that most airports cannot address because they lack the matching funds for the FAA grant. It's time for new thinking. GA is not what it was like in the 1970's. FAA needs to get real about the situation and implement new regulations and attitudes before Congress does it for them. Did you notice that the FAA could not identify a role for nearly 500 of the country's nearly 3,000 general aviation airports, that's about 17 percent (see Appendix B of the General Aviation Airports, A National Asset)? Why not let those 500 or so airports close and generate a net benefit to civil aviation that the FAA could never see realized under the current airport program? Wouldn't you want to fly from a better equipped and more financially viable airport than choose the "best of the worse" to operate from? I would like to have your response.

Posted by: Unknown | January 14, 2014 2:39 PM    Report this comment

Bruce: Young people don't care about much of anything, let alone airplanes. There is a serious decline in interest among teens for automobiles which is the real surprise. We really are becoming a virtual reality.

Posted by: Peter Kuhns | January 14, 2014 2:47 PM    Report this comment

Young people are interested as I was. Flight training cost vs ROI is a disincentive.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | January 14, 2014 3:37 PM    Report this comment

Unknown, do you really want the FAA to decide which airports should be closed and which should be promoted? I'm sure they have a model for that (and perhaps an app). Also such closings would not happen in a vacuum, a lot of oxen would get gored and politics would be chaotic. Better to let the market decide.

Posted by: Richard Montague | January 14, 2014 3:42 PM    Report this comment

My 2 cents on this.

Bruce said "A lessening in cost and regulation will not make much difference until more people posses the desire to fly."

I'm not sure I can agree with that statement. I think that was the AOPA mantra just last year but even they seemed to have backed off that stance. The cost to fly is crippling in itself. There is no need to re-hash all the increased expenses over the years, but there was a time in the early 90's when an ordinary blue collar worker could fly a C152 for $30 an hour. I don't believe we have the ability to quantify the number of people who thought about aviation but decided it was too expensive before even talking to anyone. The person that comes to mind is the person in a store that sells magazines, they leaf through them and dream a little bit.

To further build on that, I remember when FAA inspectors would walk over from the building next door and rent small airplanes to stay current.

Next, as I look back over just the last ten years, look at the amount of FAA Administrators that have flowed through the system. If I didn't know any better, I would say its some kind of stepping stone to something else.

Next, the last couple of bombs the FAA has dropped on us have tried to circumvent the normal rule making process. How does that happen?

Next, how is it that the airlines don't seem the slightest bit concerned on where the new talent of the future is going to come from? Not a peep from that industry.

Next, if I'm not mistaken, part of the FAA's charter is to also promote aviation. I would love to have the FAA speak directly to General Aviation (once a decade would be a start) and tell us what it sees as the future, both concerns and opportunities. Maybe General Aviation would be better served being regulated by a civilian authority much like doctors and lawyers are regulated by their respective bodies, the AMA and the BAR.

Next, Aviation media, namely the magazines we all receive in the mail, are just getting plain tired (excused the pun). The same old articles on safety rehashed over and over. How about something more productive and grass roots. Enough of the "scary" stuff already. And to take it a step further, look at AOPA. Just who exactly is their customer anyway? It's certainly not me. I can't afford anything found in their advertisements. The only thing that makes any logical sense to me anymore is EAA.

Next, this may be an unpopular thing to say, but-- is it just me or does anyone else think these Redbird companies popping up are really that good of an idea for primary students? Maybe I'm old fashioned, but it seems to me you get into aviation to learn but also have fun. I mean, get up in the air and enjoy. Why on earth would you want to sit in a simulator for primary training? At this level, flying is supposed to be fun. I think Redbird is taking advantage by selling an un needed service in the name of safety. I can see the benefit for instrument training, but not for primary flying.

Next, could it be the demise of General Aviation is somehow pre-planned? Could the plan simply be to let it die? Sometimes I think the FAA sees their next cash infusion based solely on filling the skies with drones, next gen, and anti terrorism measures. Or maybe VFR flying without a flight plan is somehow unamerican now. Why on earth would they not intervene with something to help us along? Or, maybe this is just the end result of being at the bottom of the money ladder when clearly there is no money to be found anywhere anymore.

Posted by: Tom B | January 14, 2014 3:44 PM    Report this comment

I come from hang gliding and ultralight trikes, I have soloed 93 new trikers in my day, and worked with many others. I have been flying for pay for almost thirty (30) years. As a result of light-sport rules and regulations I am out of work/job/luck. On January 31, 2010, my FAA flight-instructor certificate and all three (3) of my planes expired due to silly nonsense. I can and do still fly them, but I am no longer allowed to earn my keep in them, or even make a buck. Great job guys! SEQUESTER FAA-610 "Where Fun went to die!" It's a start...

Posted by: John Olson | January 14, 2014 3:55 PM    Report this comment

Ok, let me rant one more time to build on something I said just a moment ago.

As I'm typing away in the comments section of this blog, low and behold my Flying Magazine email newsletter arrives. Here are the topics in order.

Video: Passenger Films from Cabin as Cessna Caravan Crashes into Pacific Southwest Grounds Pilots Who Landed at Wrong Airport FAA Apologizes for Driver's License Medical Delay Harrowing Video Captures Cessna 210 Bird Strike Hopscotch Air Marks Fifth Anniversary ATC User Fees Continue for Airshows Again with the Wrong Airport This Week's Flying Tip: Handling a Takeoff Emergency

Now I ask you as sensible, intelligent, reasonable people. Is this our image? 7 of the 8 articles negative? We all know bad things can happen and do happen. We all know going in that there is a certain elevated amount of risk in this. But I ask you, is this what we want to be showing that 20 something year old millennial sitting in front of his latest mobile device trying to figure out what to do with himself? Group, dangerous missions are no longer glamorous to the new generation, we have to accept that.

Posted by: Tom B | January 14, 2014 3:57 PM    Report this comment

Paul ... your comment on "the black cube" adding cost for no discernible benefit hits home for a friend who is involved with providing multi-engine sea add-on ratings.

A recent FAA "decision" is -- essentially -- shutting down the economic viability of adding a multi-engine sea class rating to a person who already holds an ATP with a single-engine sea class rating and hundreds or thousands of hours in seaplanes (in addition to land class ratings). After more than 50 years, 30K flight hours/10K in seaplanes, this guy is throwing in the towel. There are few places where one can find a multi-engine seaplane and once the few that do exist go away ... where the heck is a pilot going to go to get the aeronautical experience for a ME sea ATP?

Heretofore, a well qualified pilot could fly a multi-engine airplane until the instructor decided he was qualified to take the practical test which could be done in five to ten hours. NOW, the FAA has decided that the applicant -- despite lots of SE seaplane hours MUST have 50 hours in the multi-engine sea CLASS itself.

I spent hours this afternoon doing research on the subject to see if I could find a basis for their "decision" in the Regulations. My head is spinning. As near as I can tell, 61.165e and f apply. They ref 61.157 for flight proficiency and 61.159 for aero experience. 61.159(a)3 requires 50 hours in the CLASS of airplane and this is the rub. How do you define "CLASS?"

Going to FAR 1, Class has different definitions for certification of airmen or definition of airplane classes. MY position -- and that of the FAA in the past -- is that if you have lots of ME time, it applies. Their new interpretation/decision now changes that.

This all gets pretty deep but the bottom line is that the FAA is -- once again -- splitting hairs and requiring lawyers to interpret every subtle nuance of the regs. Their "decision" is essentially making anotherwise well-qualified ATP fly a ME seaplane for 50 hours in order to qualify to take a checkride. No one can afford this nonsense. The decision could also trap others trying to upgrade their ATP.

GA is dying a slow, agonizing, unwarranted and SAD death because those bureaucrats just don't "get" it. It's high time the customers of the FAA revolt. It's no wonder the sleep apnea thing sent everyone over the proverbial edge.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 14, 2014 5:01 PM    Report this comment

Light weight GA aircraft are no more dangerous to public safety than automobiles, and should be regulated in much the same way.

Imagine the outcry if the DMV tried to implement the FAA's Sleep Apnea Policy on motorists - heads would roll very quickly - since most adults drive, there is plenty of clout to ensure this. Unfortunately, the GA pilot population is small and an easy target for bureaucrats who just don't get it.

GA revitalization should be aimed at moving GA regulation (piston singles / twins) towards something similar to that used with automobiles. The risks are similar, and so should be the regulation.

Posted by: John Thom | January 14, 2014 5:03 PM    Report this comment

Paul ... your comment on "the black cube" adding cost for no discernible benefit hits home for a friend who is involved with providing multi-engine sea add-on ratings.

A recent FAA "decision" is -- essentially -- shutting down the economic viability of adding a multi-engine sea class rating to a person who already holds an ATP with a single-engine sea class rating and hundreds or thousands of hours in seaplanes (in addition to land class ratings). After more than 50 years, 30K flight hours/10K in seaplanes, this guy is throwing in the towel. There are few places where one can find a multi-engine seaplane and once the few that do exist go away ... where the heck is a pilot going to go to get the aeronautical experience for a ME sea ATP?

Heretofore, a well qualified pilot could fly a multi-engine airplane until the instructor decided he was qualified to take the practical test which could be done in five to ten hours. NOW, the FAA has decided that the applicant -- despite lots of SE seaplane hours MUST have 50 hours in the multi-engine sea CLASS itself.

I spent hours this afternoon doing research on the subject to see if I could find a basis for their "decision" in the Regulations. My head is spinning. As near as I can tell, 61.165e and f apply. They ref 61.157 for flight proficiency and 61.159 for aero experience. 61.159(a)3 requires 50 hours in the CLASS of airplane and this is the rub. How do you define "CLASS?"

Going to FAR 1, Class has different definitions for certification of airmen or definition of airplane classes. MY position -- and that of the FAA in the past -- is that if you have lots of ME time, it applies. Their new interpretation/decision now changes that.

This all gets pretty deep but the bottom line is that the FAA is -- once again -- splitting hairs and requiring lawyers to interpret every subtle nuance of the regs. Their "decision" is essentially making anotherwise well-qualified ATP fly a ME seaplane for 50 hours in order to qualify to take a checkride. No one can afford this nonsense. The decision could also trap others trying to upgrade their ATP.

GA is dying a slow, agonizing, unwarranted and SAD death because those bureaucrats just don't "get" it. It's high time the customers of the FAA revolt. It's no wonder the sleep apnea thing sent everyone over the proverbial edge.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 14, 2014 5:03 PM    Report this comment

I volunteer on the ASTM committee. I haven't witnessed any effort to reduce certification burdens yet. The FAA lawyers apparently won't allow any reduction in the regulations. Regulations can always be added but apparently never removed. What is needed is a complete deregulation of sport airplanes and non commercial airplanes. We sort of have that now since almost all new airplanes come from the Kitplane industry (with almost no certification standards burdens). But can you imagine if all cars, motorcycles, bicycles, etc. had to be owner built from kits and how viable and safe would they be, compared with factory built? The FAA regulations have prevented any new American affordable design from being manufactured (I can't recall any in my entire 58 years, although there has been some European designs that were approved using simpler foreign rules). I hope to help make certification possible, but not holding my breath.

Posted by: Bill Berson | January 14, 2014 5:21 PM    Report this comment

I like this article. Kudos to the guy who wrote it.

I hereby make a motion that we fliers from this day forevermore, refer to over-regulation and anything associated with it as the....

Bertorelli Principal!

I'm gonna get to work on it on my own blog dub dub dub dot JohnOlson dot blog dot com

Posted by: John Olson | January 14, 2014 8:07 PM    Report this comment

It should be clear to everyone that the FAA is not interested in the survival of GA. They have no concern that aviation is being lost to foreign manufacturers in China, Mexico, Chec Republic, France, etc. They have no interest in being reasonable or fair with pilots. They are only interested in expanding thier bureacratic power base while simultaneously covering thier back sides. Appealing to them is about is futile as the Jews appealing to the Nazis for understanding and compassion. They are determined to destroy you. You will be lucky to get anything, but duplicitous lip service. You appeals only gratify thier egos while they laugh hysterically behind your back as they plot your next perseuction.

If you want to survive, you must contact your Congressional representative. They are the ones responsible for maintaining the industry and maintaining fairness. If you are too scared or lazy to contact your congressional rep, then you will get the govt you deserve.

Posted by: Kenneth Lewis | January 15, 2014 2:03 AM    Report this comment

'Appealing to them is about is futile as the Jews appealing to the Nazis for understanding and compassion. They are determined to destroy you... You appeals only gratify thier egos while they laugh hysterically behind your back as they plot your next perseuction. '

Even if all that's true, and it isn't, you really don't have to be so afraid. Many here, if you would read their posts, are still able to fly and interact with government and even corporate entities and still find ways to help GA live and stay viable.

But leave 'em laughing with the command to enlist a politician for our survival from the black hole the FAA is supposedly consciously drawing us into. Now that's funny!

Posted by: David Miller | January 15, 2014 3:43 AM    Report this comment

It was so cold last week in Washington that the politicians had their hands in their own pockets!

Posted by: A Richie | January 15, 2014 4:21 PM    Report this comment

A.R...... send that one to Leno! Too funny! LOL

Posted by: David Miller | January 15, 2014 7:06 PM    Report this comment

Guys & gals; most of you might identify with much of GA's future by viewing our article; "The Future of GA Airports" - April 7th, 2012, (FBO Wanted) @ get-aviation.com - commits welcomed!

Posted by: Rod Beck | January 15, 2014 10:20 PM    Report this comment

Until people see that liability law is a more effective system to improve safety than governmental regulation we will continue to see this endless cycle of well intentioned but dysfunctional efforts by FAA employees and administrators to help general aviation.

The comedian John Stewart in a serious interview commented that there are too many forces that will prevent us seeing any real change in Washington. We can get frustrated, upset and waste a lot of effort hoping the FAA will make the changes to allow general aviation to move away from the brink of collapse - but all you should expect for the rest of your lifetime is to watch the same circular patterns to continue on in an endless loop.

What general aviation should now make a priority is to work with governmental agencies in developing countries to create a completely unregulated environment for aircraft manufacture to allow the innovation so desperately needed to produce a safe, affordable aircraft.

Posted by: RICHARD MILES | January 16, 2014 12:07 AM    Report this comment

How interesting these articles are. I hear, as I hear in so many aspects of aviation, an unbelievable passion. I have a question to ask. Who, or what will benefit of you are destroyed? What percentage of the aviation industry does the GA hold? Who's apple cart are you tipping over?

Thank you!

Posted by: Cathie Dubie | January 24, 2014 12:39 AM    Report this comment

How interesting these articles are. I hear, as I hear in so many aspects of aviation, an unbelievable passion. I have a question to ask. Who, or what will benefit of you are destroyed? What percentage of the aviation industry does the GA hold? Who's apple cart are you tipping over?

Thank you!

Posted by: Cathie Dubie | January 24, 2014 12:39 AM    Report this comment

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