Recreational Aviation Summit Meeting Sets 2008 Warbirds Agenda

    January 28, 2008 - Removing the “red tape” required to safely operate warbird aircraft under the operating limitations within the Experimental/Exhibition Category topped the discussion items on Jan. 23 when senior FAA officials were in Oshkosh to meet with Warbirds of America officials at the EAA Aviation Center.

    Warbirds of America president Rick Siegfried and executive director Bill Fischer represented the organization during the session, which came as part of the EAA/FAA Recreational Aviation Summit. This annual meeting, unmatched anywhere else in the aviation community, included key aviation issues such as general aviation safety, aircraft certification, flight standards, and aircraft operations for aerobatic, vintage, amateur-built, and warbird aircraft.

    “This meeting is important because it sets the agenda for the issues we will be working on our members’ behalf in 2008,” Siegfried said. “Having the ability to meet face-to-face with FAA officials in Oshkosh and work through the critical issues is a key factor in our ability to make progress.”

    Nick Sabatini, FAA Associate Administrator, led the FAA group that numbered more than a dozen agency officials. The group learned more about last year’s discussions among warbird industry groups, including EAA Warbirds of America, Commemorative Air Force, Red Star Pilots Association, North American Trainer Association, Classic Jet Aircraft Association and others, regarding concerns on the experimental exhibition aircraft operating limitations.

    In the early 1990s, as many Eastern-Block aircraft were imported to the U.S., the FAA had concerns over the safe operation of these aircraft. There was limited experience in dealing with these aircraft types in the U.S.; therefore, strict policies limited their operations until a track record of safety could be established. That track record has been established. Accepted training and maintenance programs are in place to enhance the safe operation of these warbirds.

    Siegfried and Fischer pointed out that the time has come to review and revise the policies that have limited the experimental exhibition aircraft for over a decade. That would build on a March 2007 meeting between the Warbirds of America, its industry partners and FAA officials reviewed FAA Order 8130.2F, which provides policy guidance for experimental exhibition aircraft. As a result of this month’s summit, FAA, EAA and the Warbirds of America will move forward on this issue, with more progress anticipated in the weeks and months to come.

    In other key areas discussions during the summit:

    • Sabatini briefed the EAA and Warbirds representatives on several areas as well, including FAA’s concern over runway incursions in all areas, both commercial and recreational. Warbird owners and operators understand the need for vigilance in the safe operations of their aircraft – including ground operations – especially as many warbirds are large, conventional gear aircraft with limited forward visibility. The Warbirds of America pledged its continuing efforts to make this a key priority for its members.
    • EAA’s Vice President of Government Programs, Earl Lawrence, mentioned that EAA continues to monitor the user-fee issue and opposes such fees that would be an unnecessary burden to Warbirds owners and operators.
    • Sabatini voiced support of the warbird movement, saying, “The FAA is willing to facilitate efforts to solve the issues of concern in the warbird community.” That is a very positive sign as the Warbirds of America works on long-term management of vintage and experimental aircraft programs, and proactive policies that will “keep ‘em flying.” For example, Warbirds members need continued access to the authorized instructors, pilot examiners, and aircraft maintenance services that play a crucial role in safe warbird operations. Such programs and policies require a strong commitment from the FAA, both in funding and personnel. Sabatini’s assurances to the warbird community are key in making progress on these issues in 2008.

    “In a spirit of cooperation, we have placed the issues on the table with the FAA and will be there, in the trenches, working on our members’ behalf,” Siegfried said. “We have much more work to come and look forward to helping reduce the ‘hassle-factor’ of operating warbird aircraft while further enhancing safety.”

    Watch for updates throughout the year in Warbirds magazine and on our website, www.warbirds-eaa.org.

 

   

     
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