Fri, Oct 28, 2011
The 'Meet The Boss' event at Oshkosh, where pilots of all types
can actually face down the FAA Administrator and ask questions, has
been a staple of this annual gathering.
This year, though, was a bit of a non-starter in that the time
for questions was cut short by EAA President Rod Hightower's own
questions and when we finally got the chance to confront the
Administrator, there were scant minutes left to question him while
the few answers we received were very much like those we had heard
in the past.
Much of Babbitt's speech was boilerplate. He touched on the 8
percent reduction in the GA accident rate, though he said July had
been a "particularly painful month" for accidents. He again brought
up professionalism in the cockpit, which he has said in the past
cannot be discussed often enough, and extolled the virtues of
Many of the questions that might have been asked ... and asked
much differently... by people attending the forum were posed by EAA
president Rod Hightower, who shared the stage with Babbitt. After a
speech lasting about 20 minutes, Hightower spent about the next 30
minutes essentially interviewing the administrator, leaving only a
short 15-20 minutes for questions from the audience.
When the audience got its turn to ask a few questions, the
subjects became more personal. Babbitt said he does not see
anything on the horizon that would allow pilots flying planes
heavier than a light-sport to do so without the benefit of a
third-class medical certificate. He said that the FAA would
"embrace" a Pilots Bill of Rights as proposed by U.S. Senator and
pilot James Inhofe (R-OK), should it become the law of the land,
but focused entirely on the issue of the distribution of NOTAMS,
and did not address some of the other important aspects of the
proposed legislation, such as information sharing and suspension of
flying privileges. And on the issue of user fees, the Administrator
said that the Obama administration "has not supported user fees.
Having said that, you've got a lot of people considering a lot of
things going forward, they're trying not to raise taxes and so
forth. But on the other hand, they're trying to solve a debt and
deficit crisis. And so I think there's dialog that puts a lot of
things on the table that wouldn't have been there before. We think
that the way the system is structured today provides the revenue.
Could you make tweaks within how we take it? Some adjustments
within there, I think, could certainly be understood. Beyond that,
that's going to be a congressional issue."
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