AOPA looks to Congress to resolve FAA flight training crisis

Bills were introduced on July 22 to reverse the damaging impact of an FAA directive that, as of July 12, requires pilots who receive training on experimental aircraft to obtain a deviation authority letter (LODA) of the FAA. The instructor who receives compensation must also obtain an LODA. Pilots and instructors engaged in paid instruction in limited category aircraft or the handful of main category aircraft in the register must obtain a regulatory exemption (not the same as the LODA process but providing the necessary clearance) before proceeding. follow the training. Training on aircraft with a standard airworthiness certificate is not impacted.

The need for a remedy emerged after a federal court upheld an FAA cease and desist order against a Florida company, Warbird Adventures, which the FAA said provided paid instruction flights in a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, a limited category aircraft. certificate of airworthiness. The ruling stated – incorrectly, according to aviation groups – that “when the student pays for the instruction, the student is transported” for compensation. ” ”

The directive sparked uncertainty in the pilot community who generally understood that flight training had nothing to do with flying an aircraft for pay or hire. The FAA has also said that money is not the only form of compensation instructors can receive.

“The bureaucratic response from the FAA Legal Office is actually hindering security, which is unacceptable. We will work with our industry partners and members to support legislation in Congress so that we can bring clarity and consistency to this whole issue, ”said AOPA President Mark Baker.

On introducing identical bills in the House and Senate, Graves, the Republican leader of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, issued a statement calling on the FAA to revert to a “common sense” policy.

“The FAA’s recent change in its long-standing legal guidance on flight training put 40,000 general aviation pilots in regulatory non-compliance overnight,” he said. “In addition to creating a significant amount of confusion, the FAA has unnecessarily added more bureaucratic red tape for pilots who do nothing to improve aviation safety. In fact, the actions of the FAA actually create safety concerns because they undermine a basic principle of aviation safety that a pilot must be trained in the aircraft he will fly. This bill restores the old FAA common sense interpretation of these flight training regulations and restores a system that was in place and worked for decades.

Inhofe, the bill’s main sponsor in the Senate, said the legislation would eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens.

“The US aviation community is vital to our nation,” he said. “That’s why I introduced the General Aviation Pilot Certainty Act, a law that will eliminate unnecessary bureaucratic burdens that prevent pilots from flying planes tomorrow that they could fly yesterday. This bill would remove unnecessary new regulations and bring pilots back to the skies safely. I am proud to fight for their priorities in Congress and look forward to working to get this bill passed.

Baker and the heads of 10 other aviation organizations have expressed strong support for the legislation in letters to Graves and Inhofe.

The AOPA will continue to vigorously defend the restoration of flight training to its former safe and sensible status and will strive to ensure that a regulatory slippery slope has not been created for flight training.

The bottom line for now, as AOPA advises members who contact us with questions, is that as of July 12, anyone providing or receiving flight instruction in their Experimental, Limited, or Primary Category aircraft is running a legal risk if it does not have an LODA (experimental aircraft) or exemption (limited or primary category aircraft) in place before performing or receiving the training.

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