AOPA Backs Santa Monica In Court

By Jim Moore, AOPA

AOPA has sought court recognition to support future intervention as the nation’s second-highest court weighs the fate of Santa Monica Municipal Airport in California.

The association on March 15 filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit a notice of intent to participate as a “friend of the court” in a case brought by the National Business Aviation Association and five individual petitioners in February challenging the FAA settlement with the city. That controversial deal took many by surprise in January (including airport tenants and advocacy groups), and while it does require the city to operate the long-embattled airport through 2028, it also allows the city to shorten the runway from 4,973 feet to 3,500 feet.

  The latest AOPA legal action is effectively a request for recognition by federal courts that will allow any airport user to enforce the city’s various obligations under the agreement, establishing with certainty that the agreement leaves intact a process through which the public can seek relief should an airport host community fail to live up to its responsibilities and obligations under federal law. AOPA has asked the federal court to affirm that airport users will have legal standing to oppose the city in the event Santa Monica violates any of the terms of its agreement with the FAA in the years ahead. The ruling AOPA seeks will affirm that the public has a well-established legal interest in the safe and efficient functioning of the entire transportation system, including public-use airports.

“The FAA and the city should not be allowed to bargain away this public right, and AOPA believes its participation in this case will help to prevent the loss of this ability to preserve our nation’s airports,” said AOPA General Counsel Ken Mead.

The settlement between the FAA and Santa Monica city officials was a surprise twist in a battle that has raged for decades, the FAA having consistently sided with airport tenants and advocates against the city’s repeated efforts to strangle and close the airport, which was once a point of civic pride.

NBAA challenged the validity of the agreement in February, and asked the D.C. Circuit to delay implementation of the settlement—and with that, any attempt to alter what is almost certainly now America’s most litigated runway—while the court reviews the challenge to the agreement. The FAA in February asked the D.C. Circuit to dismiss the challenge, putting the agency on the opposite side of airport tenants and advocates.

By joining the D.C. Circuit case through the filing of an amicus brief, AOPA is positioning all airport users to take action if the city violates any provisions in the FAA agreement, including stipulations that require the city to provide fuel and other aviation services through 2028. Mead explained that the legal move also positions AOPA to act if the federal government does not.

“We want enforcement rights to ensure the city lives up to its obligations,” Mead said. “If the city does not live up to its obligations and the FAA and Justice Department do not step up to enforce this agreement, AOPA wants users to have the right to enforce it in court.”

This latest legal move is part of the association’s long-term strategy to build support for extending the airport’s life far beyond 2028. That will require a coordinated effort by pilots, business leaders, and advocacy groups to shift deeply entrenched opposition stemming from a vocal minority of city residents who oppose the airport and have elected politicians sympathetic to their cause.

“Santa Monica Airport is an economic engine for the city, but it also touches people in ways they may not realize,” AOPA President Mark Baker said in February. “From organ donation transportation to emergency preparedness, the airport is an enormous asset, and over the next 12 years we will ensure everyone knows what they will be giving up if it goes away.”  

With many election cycles to come, AOPA hopes that a combination of education and persuasion will build recognition in the community of all the benefits the airport provides.



China General Aviation Business Conference March 25-31 

Inaugural U.S. – China General Aviation Business Conference Scheduled for March 25-31

Many officials from China who are tasked with growing that country’s burgeoning general aviation market will attend this event


China is poised to become one of the largest markets in the world for general aviation. The country’s growing wealth, huge population, dynamic economy, and vast size makes it fertile ground for the unique travel solutions provided by general and business aviation. 


China for the first time has moved towards loosening its restrictions on general aviation, especially with the latest announcement of the opening of newly increased flying area of 200- kilometer radius (108 nautical or 125 statute miles). The Chinese Government has also announced ambitious plans to take advantage of the economic and job creation opportunities that general aviation represents. 


“This is a first opportunity for U.S.-based companies to meet the people in China who are responsible to a great extent to grow the aviation business in China,” said Dr. Yuanyang Gao Director, General Aviation Industry Research Center, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Deputy Secretary General, AOPA-China. “And represents an opportunity for U.S. companies to share their expertise in an area that is new to China––general aviation.”


If China is to grow its general aviation industry, it literally needs assistance with everything involved in the infrastructure and the supply chain. The U.S. China General Aviation Business Conference will take place from March 25 – 31 in Southern California and already has confirmed the participation of more than 30 representatives from Chinese Government agencies, investment, airport operations, and academia who have been tasked with growing that country’s general and business aviation sector.


There are two main opportunities for U.S. Companies to interact with Chinese attendees: the conference day at the Embassy Suites in Brea, Calif. on March 27 and the Aviation Expo at Threshold Aviation at Chino Airport, Calif. on March 28.


Threshold is very pleased to be hosting this important event and we look forward to having many of our friends and other stake-holders in the industry attend and exhibit, to take advantage of this amazing opportunity to develop business ties with the Chinese people in aviation.” Said Mark DiLullo, Founder and CEO of Threshold Aviation.


For information on the event please visit and click on the link for the General Aviation Business Conference.


About Threshold Aviation Group

Based in Chino, Calif., Threshold Aviation Group is one of the largest providers of maintenance, operational and related services to aircraft owners, operators, manufacturers, lenders, governments, fractional operators, insurance companies, airlines, jet charter companies, and individuals throughout the world. Services encompass private jet management, aircraft charter, aircraft maintenance, inspections and overhaul, AOG services, business jet completions both interior and exterior and inspections, modifications, avionics, full FBO services, acquisitions, and operational management.

A market niche that Threshold has utilized for more than 15 years is that of purchasing Business Jet Aircraft that need maintenance inspections, repairs, avionics, engine modifications, or interior upgrades. During the last 15 years, we have purchased more than 50 aircraft from around the world. These aircraft were purchased and re-positioned to our Chino facility where we utilize our full-service maintenance team to conduct the required repairs or upgrades, after which the aircraft are sold.

Threshold’s fuel, 150,000 square feet of hangar and significant ramp storage, maintenance, and related costs are among the lowest on the west coast. This has resulted in a loyal following of customers and clients for more than 25 years.

Threshold is a philanthropic minded company who benefits the surround community with an annual Christmas gathering for thousands of children and their families with hot food and many presents for all ages. Threshold participates in numerous other community events throughout the year as well. Please see for more information.



Statement on the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act 

A long-anticipated FAA reauthorization bill that calls for creating a federally chartered not-for-profit organization to manage air traffic control functions was announced during a Feb. 3 news conference led by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Penn.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The 270-page bill called the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act of 2016, H.R. 4441, also includes third-class medical reform, certification reform, and user fees for Part 135 charter operators, and would set priorities for the FAA for the next six years. 

“There are some very good things for general aviation in this bill. I think everyone can agree that the FAA can be more efficient and effective, and this legislation creates opportunities for both third-class medical reform and certification reform that have the potential to make flying safer and more affordable,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “But there are other provisions we will firmly oppose such as user fees for any segment of GA, including business aviation. And still other elements, like the plan to separate air traffic control from the FAA, raise important questions that demand meaningful answers. Ultimately, we need to know that any FAA reauthorization legislation will protect the interests of general aviation now and into the future.” 

An 11-member board that includes representatives from the airlines, controllers, general aviation, and others would govern the proposed air traffic organization. AOPA plans to carefully study the bill’s language and its potential consequences over the coming days. 

Aviation groups, including AOPA, have been asking House transportation leaders to make sure all stakeholders have adequate time and opportunities to weigh in on the legislation, which will have a profound effect on the entire aviation community if it becomes law. Exactly how much time they’ll have remains to be seen, with lawmakers hinting at a committee markup of the bill sometime in the next few weeks.

“This is extremely complex legislation, and we need to be sure we get it right and fix only the things that are actually broken. So we will be going over it with a fine-toothed comb,” said AOPA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Jim Coon. “This bill is an important starting point, and there are many more steps to go before it is finalized. AOPA is going to be actively involved in the process, representing the needs of our members at every step along the way and opposing any provisions that would harm GA.”

With FAA funding set to expire March 31, it seems unlikely that the House and Senate can reach agreement on final legislation before the deadline, increasing the chances that we’ll see another short-term extension of the status quo. 



NATA Will Not Support “Leap of Faith” FAA Reauthorization Proposal

The following is a statement by National Air Transportation Association President and CEO, Thomas L. Hendricks, following the recent release by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration. The Committee is expected to consider the legislation on Feb. 11.


“NATA cannot support the legislation’s proposal to create a federally chartered, not-for-profit air traffic control corporation. We have been quite clear throughout the development of this legislation that we will not support ‘leap of faith’ proposals that place the fate of any segment of general aviation — in this case the air charter community — in the hands of a yet-to-be-determined board of directors — especially given the fact that this segment of general aviation is denied a voice in the corporation’s governance. A user-fee funded ATC corporation, controlled in perpetuity by a board of industry insiders, will place general aviation in constant peril, starve rural America of access to cutting-edge technology, and saddle the travelling public with ever increasing fees. 

NATA understands and respects the process that Chairman Shuster undertook to develop this legislation. We also acknowledge the legislation contains many provisions that reflect NATA’s suggestions for making the FAA a more efficient organization. While we agree with the Chairman that maintaining the status quo risks our nation’s supremacy in aviation, this draft legislation poses even greater risks — to the safe and stable nature of the world’s best air traffic control system and America’s vibrant general aviation community.”


EAA Proposes ADS-B Solution for Light-Sport Aircraft

EAA has proposed a path forward for owners of special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) to equip ADS-B equipment per the FAA’s 2020 mandate. Currently, the manufacturer has the sole approval authority over any alteration to an S-LSA. In some cases, this can be a barrier to ADS-B equipage, either because the manufacturer declines to approve an installation or the manufacturer no longer exists or no longer supports the product.

In comments to a recent change to FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 90-114A, EAA proposed a way to leverage existing regulation to empower the Chicago Aircraft Certification Office (ACO) to approve alterations to S-LSA aircraft. The proposal would allow the ACO to evaluate changes on a case-by-case basis. The traditional system of manufacturer-approved alterations in S-LSA would also remain unaltered.

“Owners of light-sport aircraft are an important part of the general aviation community, and we always look for ways to support them,” said Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of advocacy and safety. “Our proposal is meant to help some owners of special light-sport aircraft have an easier time installing mandated equipment without having to resort to options such as the experimental light-sport category.”

EAA has an active role in the FAA/industry “Equip 2020” working group, which works to identify barriers to affordable ADS-B equipage and eliminate them. A major victory won by EAA through Equip 2020 in the past year has been the FAA affirming that non-TSO equipment may be used to satisfy the ADS-B mandate in the experimental category.


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