Alaskan Protest Spreads South


One Set Of Rules Urged…

AOPA is asking the FAA to scrap recent changes to its field approval policy throughout the country and not just in Alaska. Alaskan aviators, after some pointed discussions with their politicians and regional FAA staff, won a reprieve from Change 15 to the field approval policy. The change effectively eliminated the ability of FAA inspectors to grant one-time approvals to aircraft modifications and upgrades not covered by a supplementary type certificate. Such modifications are essential, in many cases, to keep planes flying in Alaska’s severe conditions. The FAA apparently saw the sense in that and backed off on the rule. “There was no logical sense behind it,” said Felix Maguire, president of the Alaska Airmen’s Association. “It’s gone back the way it should be, now.” Maguire said it’s also not right that there be one rule for Alaska and another for the rest of the country. “We need to keep the pressure on them to make them realize it’s not just an Alaska thing.”

…AOPA Gains Firsthand Knowledge

AOPA brass got a taste of the new regulation while putting the finishing touches on the annual Sweepstakes prize. This year’s prize is a 1939 Waco biplane and it was decided to upgrade the brakes to modern standard. But when the shop doing the work tried to get a field approval, it was denied. Now, according to AOPA’s Melissa Bailey, complaints are coming in from all corners of the country with aircraft being denied wingtip strobes, generator/alternator conversions and other work that previously fell under field approvals. “The bottom line is that it is increasingly more difficult, if not impossible, to get field approvals since (the new rule) was issued,” she wrote in a letter to FAA brass. The Alaskan exemption is only in effect until the FAA comes up with revisions to the rule to make it workable there. Whether those revisions will satisfy the concerns raised so far in Alaska and elsewhere remains to be seen.