But Changes Are In Store
On the heels of the
announcement the Southwest Regional Fly-In has been cancelled for
2008, the Experimental Aircraft Association took steps this week to
reassure the pilot community other regional events shouldn't feel
threatened... while also acknowledging changes in EAA's role in
As ANN reported Monday,
officials with SWRFI announced the end of the 46-year event, saying
two developments in regards to EAA's relationship with SWRFI led to
the decision. "EAA headquarters decided to cease branding regional
fly-ins as EAA events," SWRFI officials said, "[and] EAA will no
longer insure regional events. The board felt that losing the EAA
brand would make it increasingly difficult to obtain sponsors,
exhibitors, and volunteers."
In a message posted on its website this week, EAA clarified its
position on the statements made by SWRFI.
"For the past several months, representatives of the major
fly-ins throughout the nation commonly known as "regional fly-ins"
have been discussing with EAA staff the structure and relationships
between EAA and these large events that have carried the EAA name,"
the sport aviation group said. "These are not and have never been
EAA-owned or -operated events, but rather grew from the efforts of
local EAA members, chapters and aviation enthusiasts seeking to
create a community that shares EAA's mission of promoting the
spirit of aviation."
EAA states many attendees interpreted the group's support of the
events, to mean the regional fly-ins were EAA-operated events --
similar in spirit to the association's annual AirVenture.
"EAA encourages events that bring people together to enjoy the
world of flight," EAA states. "Through the years, however, the
perception of these events and the environment in which they
operate may have changed, often due to forces beyond anyone's
control. This requires clarification in the relationship between
EAA and these events."
The group says it is in discussions with leaders of other
regional events to "more accurately reflect the actual relationship
between EAA and the independent local groups that organize these
"EAA wants to address
any misunderstanding among fly-in attendees that EAA may be active
in or responsible for the operation of the regional fly-ins," EAA
states. "In addition to EAA's concern about confusion in the minds
of the public, this apparent misunderstanding was a significant
factor in a recent judgment and damage award arising from an
accident at a regional fly-in" -- which is why, EAA adds, the group
is reexamining its insurance obligations to such events.
"The damage award affected the evaluation of EAA's coverage in
the insurance market and created a situation that, if not
addressed, would lead to very significant and unsustainable
increases in the cost of EAA's insurance coverage at the levels
required for all of its programs," EAA says. "Such a situation
would harm not only EAA, but the regional fly-ins. Therefore, it
was prudent for EAA and the organizers of these fly-ins to evaluate
and clarify their relationships and public communications."
Until recently, EAA arranged for insurance coverage for regional
fly-ins as part of its overall av-insurance plan. Regional
organizers would then reimburse EAA for their portion of insurance
costs -- meaning, in essence, fly-ins benefited from paying the
EAA's rates. Due to liability issues, however, EAA won't be able to
continue that plan.
"Fortunately, there are brokers and underwriters willing and
capable of serving the regional fly-ins as independent events at
what we anticipate will be affordable and sustainable rates," the
group adds. "EAA will introduce the fly-in organizers to insurers
that can independently provide quotes for this coverage."
EAA stressed it would like to continue supporting regional
events through sponsorship of forums, workshops, and other areas.
The group will also continue to support regional fly-ins by
encouraging its members to attend such events, through its media
outlets and chapter communications.
EAA does allow for the unfortunate possibilty the latest
developments may hit some events hard -- as they apparently did for
"There is a consensus from the event organizers that they want
to continue," EAA says. "However, each event annually decides on
its own whether it will operate in future years by evaluating a
variety of factors. That ability for the local organizers to
determine their own course will not change."