Government and Legislative Affairs
"Our Voice For General Aviation"
Questions or comments? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The following is a sample of some of the issues the Airmen Association is advocating for or against on your behalf. Look for updates in the next Transponder, in eBulletins and on our FaceBook page. If you have questions, comments or know of new issues please contact Adam White (email@example.com or 907-322-1098). As always, when you file your public comments please copy the Alaska Airmen Association. This helps us know and understand your needs and opinions.
ADVOCACY AT WORK – A GOVERNMENT AND LEGISLATIVE REPORT
The Alaska Airmen Association works extremely hard to stay abreast of the issues locally, statewide, nationally and worldwide that impact aviation. Your membership is vital to our efforts to keep aviation thriving in Alaska. When surveyed, our members consistently rank our advocacy efforts as one of the main reasons for their continued support and membership renewal.
The following is a small sampling of the issues we are working on behalf of our membership. Some of these issues are new and others we have been working for many years but all of them greatly impact aviation. For more timely updates on issues and calls to action, like our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/alaska.airmen/) and read the monthly eBulletins
Supreme Court Case and Remote Access
A case involving the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) and access issues was heard by the Supreme Court earlier this year and the ruling was unanimous in favor of a moose hunter who had used a hovercraft on the Nations River in the Yukon-Charley National Preserve. In a decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the nation’s highest court ruled that the National Park Service and the federal government took a “topsy-turvy” approach to reading a key provision of ANILCA. This ruling also benefits aviation because many Alaskans access public lands with aircraft. We are still following this issue as there are several things sent back to the 9th circuit court for review.
Aging Infrastructure and Shrinking Budgets
Reactionary advocacy is extremely difficult to accomplish and even harder for it to be successful. The Alaska Airmen continues to be proactive in working with the FAA, State and Municipalities when they prioritize funding and construction/repair projects. We continue to be participants early in the process, sometimes years in advance.
Example: We may not use NDBs that much anymore but we can’t get rid of them because we must have the connecting airways and their low Minimum Enroute Altitudes (MEA). Is there a way to keep the MEAs with a GPS based system so the NDBs are no longer required? We think so, but it needs to be balanced with not putting all of our eggs in one basket (GPS).
Another example is a classic Catch 22. The Seaplane dock in Sitka is not being used much anymore because it is in too bad a state of disrepair and folks don’t want to risk damaging their aircraft. However, the FAA says there is no money to fund repairs because the current usage of the facility doesn’t justify the outlay. The Alaska Airmen supports Sitka in this effort and has added our voice to theirs in looking for ways to work with the FAA to find funding to get this vital facility back in shape to safely use.
Cold Temperature Correction
Remember you ground school training? “High to low, look out below!” Barometric Pressure is not the only thing the affects the accuracy of our altimeters. Nonstandard temperatures also cause errors that we are now being required to correct. The Alaska Airmen continue to work this issue and have been able to get some traction to amend the procedures due to Alaska’s propensity for temperature inversions. Look for changes in the Notice To Airmen Publication (NTAP) that make allowances for temperature inversions in certain segments of instrument approaches.
You can now view where drone operators have filed NOTAMs on skyvector.com and the FAA weather camera site (http://avcams.faa.gov). This is a great way to see where you may encounter “drones” or other unmanned aircraft. The Airmen have long pushed for this type of interface and feel that a picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to a series of lat/lon defining an area. We are also pushing for publication of contact information for the UAS operators and the intended CTAF they will be using so you can coordinate and deconflict just like you do with maned aircraft.
As of press time, the FAA is operating on a continuing resolution that will give Legislators until July 15 to work out the details of the FAA funding reauthorization. For now it looks like we will be able to keep out user fees and to get the 3rd class medical reform pushed through, we may even be able to extend the aircraft registration period beyond three years. Keep a watch on our Facebook page and for a eBulletins for potential calls to action to voice your opinion to our folks in DC.
Float season is here! Keep an eye out for Elodea in the waters where you operate. There are several places in Alaska already infected with this nasty plant. The State and Feds are being proactive in dealing with this invasive water plant that can choke off waterways and poses a safety hazard to floatplanes. They need our help in mapping out where Elodea has spread.
Not sure what Elodea looks like? Google can help you figure that out. Or go to http://plants.alaska.gov/invasives/elodea.htm for more information.
If you find Elodea this summer:
Note its location: Write down GPS coordinates and/or a mark on a map with description.
Note its habitat: Did you find it in a river or lake? How deep was the water? Was the water clear or slightly muddy?
Take a specimen: At a minimum, take a photo. Take as much of the entire plant as you can, including the flower if present. Put it in a zip lock bag and store in a cool place. If you don’t have a bag, press it in a book or inside wax paper and keep it somewhere safe so it doesn’t break up. Aquatic plants dry quickly.
Report it: Call the Invasive Species Hotline: They will let you know where to send the sample. 1-877-INVASIV (468-2748)
Keep you water rudders clear of weeds so you don’t contribute to the spread of aquatic weeds!
Alaska Fuel Tax
As of press time we are still waiting to hear how the State’s budget shortfall will be dealt with. One proposed increase in revenue being discussed in Juneau is an increase in aviation fuel taxes.
Presently the AVGAS (100LL) State Tax is 4.7 cents per gallon with a proposed increase to 10 cents per gallon. While the proposed increase would more than double taxes on AVGAS, it only slightly more than compensates for inflation. The current AVGAS tax rate was set in 1994 and if adjusted for inflation would have been 8 cents in 2015. http://www.westegg.com/inflation/
The average Alaska Airmen member currently pays between $20 and $70 in AVGAS taxes annually. If the tax rate increased to 10 cents a gallon our average member would pay between $45 and $150 per year.
The Alaska Airmen Association strongly supports the recommendation of the Governor’s Aviation Advisory Board to index any tax increases so that if the price of oil comes back to previous levels the tax burden of the citizen would be lessened. We also feel that a fuel tax is the most balanced and most equitable means to generate revenue for the Alaska Aviation System. The more one uses the system the more one pays. The current method of collecting fuel tax revenue also provides the greatest “return on investment” to the State. There is no need to form new divisions or levels of government to collect revenues as would be necessary with other options considered by DOT&PF.
These are just a few of the issues we are actively pursuing for our membership. We need your voice added to the 2000+ other Alaska Airmen members. The more voices added to the chorus the more effective our efforts.
Please contact Adam White, Government Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org) with new issues or feedback on current issues. As always, when you file your public comments, please copy the Alaska Airmen’s Association. This helps us know and understand your needs and opinions.