EAA and IAC are continuing their work on the complex issues surrounding waivered aerobatic training and competition areas with FAA officials. During a meeting last week, discussion centered on two areas: Policy surrounding application for the issuance and approval of waivered aerobatic practice areas and contest boxes (known as Chapter 48 of the FAA Inspector’s Handbook), and the Environmental Information Document (EID), which will figure prominently in those applications. Attending were Doug Macnair, EAA vice president of government relations, and Vicki Cruse, president of the International Aerobatic Club (IAC).
There were some areas of agreement, but many issues remain, in particular the environmental assessment, Cruse reported.
EAA and IAC provided detailed written comments to both drafts of Chapter 48 and the Environmental Information Document last year. Last week’s meeting with the FAA was to discuss newly released drafts.
“We’ve made limited progress, and a lot of work still needs to be done,” Cruse said.
Much of the discussion on the EID focused on how to make the application process more workable and simplify the information gathering process for an aerobatic practice area applicant. One of IAC and EAA’s chief concerns is that the basis for developing the EID was the long-standing study for environmental assessment of airport construction projects, which includes numerous items that have little or no bearing on aerobatic practice boxes.
In its current draft form, criteria outlined in the Safety Inspector Pre-Screening Checklist used to review the application would potentially deny most new waiver requests, even renewals for currently waivered airspace. Under the present draft, once a single “YES” is checked, approval of the waiver would be delayed or denied, as stated directly on this form.
“We do not feel this was the intent of this process at all,” Cruse added. “We indicated this was an unworkable document that implied denial with the check of one ‘Yes’ mark.”
As for the Chapter 48 revision, FAA adopted many of EAA and IAC’s comments and added a few more changes of their own. These were discussed in detail and a new draft of that chapter is expected at the end of March.
EAA and IAC will continue to work closely with the FAA to ensure that the application and approval process for aerobatic boxes functions in a more smooth and predictable manner in the future. IAC has appointed three government liaisons, each covering a third of the country, to act as ombudsmen between the applicant and the FAA. These highly experienced individuals help advise applicants for aerobatic practice areas and boxes throughout the process and facilitate communications with the FAA. They also serve as a resource for the FAA in unifying policy on matters affecting aerobatic areas. To contact the representatives, visit the IAC Members website, http://members.iac.org, then clock on the Aerobatic Waivers link.