Sturgell Makes His First Oshkosh Appearance As Administrator
One of the more interesting events (most years) that takes places at each rendition of the annual Oshkosh aerial get-together is the chance to listen to, and then grill/question/cajole info from the current FAA Boss. This year was no different...
In his opening remarks, FAA's Acting Admin, Bobby Sturgell's low-key, affable nature played well to the middling crowd at the 2008 forum... which was a far cry from the packed houses Blakey drew during her tenure, with several rows of seating in the Honda Pavilion left empty. But Sturgell -- himself an accomplished military and commercial pilot, another difference from his former boss -- knew how to appeal to that audience.
After allowing other FAA personnel in attendance to introduce themselves (which led to a good-natured game of "whose ties to GA are strongest?" during their intros) Sturgell paid heed to the four winners of the FAA's General Aviation Awards Program for 2008: CFI Max Trescott, FAAST Team Member John Teipen, Maintenance Technician Mike Busch, and Avionics Technician Tim Adkison, who received their honors Wednesday night at a Theater in the Woods presentation.
Sturgell then got down to business, giving EAA members some insight into his position on the so-called "51 percent" rule, and the FAA's efforts to modify it.
"As you know, we've got a proposed policy change for homebuilts," Sturgell said. "It's come to our attention that some companies may be skirting the letter of the law by selling a kit that requires nothing more than two turns of a screwdriver. For safety's sake, we just can't allow that. It's not right, and it circumvents the very safeguards that are put in place to protect everyone in the system.
Sturgell also addressed proposed changes to the light-sport aircraft rule, and implored anyone with comments on the current NPRM to weigh in. "Your feedback is vital to keeping the Light Sport rule on course," he said. "We want to hear from you before the comment period closes on August 13."
The administrator then turned his attention to matters of interest to the pilot community as a whole -- the need for better measures to prevent runway incursions, and recent FAA changes to terms of first-and-third-class medicals for pilots under 40. Sturgell then turned his attention to pitching the FAA's much-ballyhooed "NextGen" air traffic control system.
"I can say that we're making solid progress," Sturgell said. "The foundational technologies are either already in place or will be soon enough. They include WAAS, which provides increased airport access in reduced visibility conditions. We've published over 1,000 WAAS LPV procedures and we now have more of them than ILS procedures."
Sturgell concluded his prepared remarks by noting the FAA is rolling out ADS-B procedures at several GA airports in the southeastern US, including Boca Raton, Lakeland Linder, and Dade Collier. "So as you can see, we're moving confidently ahead with NextGen, and it's with general aviation's well-being in mind," Sturgell said. "Each and every one of you is a part of a remarkable history that's being made at this very moment. If you want to know why it's never been safer to fly, it's because of pilots like you. There's nothing but blue skies ahead."
FAA's Sturgell Answers to EAA Attendees... and Aero-TV!
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