Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

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Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

Introduction

The above is a charitable organization that primarily deals with growing the population of pilots, articulating aviation safety issues and providing legal defenses for members alleged to have violated charges of enforcement by the Federal Aviation Authority. This group is located in Maryland and it was formed on 15 May 1939.  Most of its members are pilots from the United States with their current membership totaling 384, 915. As a result, this has made it the biggest association of aviation enthusiasts globally. As part of its operations, it runs five programs that are geared towards improving the general worldwide aviation environment, particularly in America. These include GA Serves America, Air safety Institute, Legal Services Plan, AOPA Political Action Committee and AOPA Foundation. It is also a significant affiliate of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations. Importantly, it is a not for profit organization that welcomes individuals as well as companies. As such, it deals with economic issues and matters related to airports. AOPA is therefore an umbrella organization of aviation specialists that seeks to articulate their views in Congress while granting them the opportunity to interact and progress in their careers.

Discussion

Aviation is often referred to as the safest mode of traveling (Stoop and Kahan 121). It is the preferred choice by millions of people who flock to airports and board planes either for business trips, to relocate or to go on vacation. The safety record originates from the fact that aeroplanes have a “fail safe” mechanism in which different machines vital for a flight are duplicated. This is done in order to guarantee the continuity of flight in the event that any equipment becomes faulty. Furthermore, thorough background checks are always carried out by engineers and pilots alike before any flight to ensure that the aeroplane is in airworthiness condition. These officials are then compelled to sign certain forms declaring their approval of the aircraft’s departure. This is repeated for domestic and international flights. Whereas aircrafts could have premium, economy, first class and business class designations, there are those that are specially designed to transport cargo. According to Jason Blair, the choice of which class to fly depends on the comfort facilities available in the different sections of the plane. He has been an AOPA member for the last ten years.

As noted by many AOPA members, pilots face different challenges during flight and they are forced to rely on their knowledge and intuition to navigate through these moments of crisis (Peterson 2). Upon successful landing, they record their encounters in the AOPA magazine detailing the measures that they took to avert potential catastrophes. Some of them go even further to explain other possible scenarios that pilots might find themselves in and offer expert advise on ways of safely landing an aircraft. These articles serve as points of references for many pilots who try to emulate their colleagues when faced with similar circumstances. Their membership to this organization is thus beneficial as they are able to compare thoughts and ideas on increasing aviation safety. Such healthy debates help to improve the oversight role of regulators and makes pilots to be updated on current mishaps in a bid to prevent a recurrence of the same.

Similarly, Dave Hirschman informed me that this organization acts as a platform for highlighting the latest aviation equipment. He insisted that most aircraft manufacturers prefer to advertise their new products in areas that have the impact of reaching their target customers. Sometimes they could be marketing new cockpit instruments. For example, enhanced hydraulic systems similar to those assembled in an aeroplane’s undercarriage. With the wide network of aviation officials, any promotional material is bound to reach a large section of this profession. These companies are aware of the huge impact that they can generate by aligning themselves with this target audience. New products are therefore introduced to members of this association and a short while later, these manufacturers get orders for the same.

The above society is also involved in organizing communal events such as air shows (Murphy, Bell and Partie 4). Through its magazine, people can be informed of upcoming fairs. Festivals such as air shows are integral in aviation development due to the technological advances on display. Superior aircrafts can be tested to determine their capabilities while aviation lovers get a chance to interact in a casual atmosphere. Business executives too get an opportunity to mingle with different airline managers and crucial deals are sealed at these events. Likewise, airline operators such as Hirshman relish these outdoor events as they get to meet some of their customers. After five years of membership, he rates these air shows as the highlight of the year. It is at such forums that customers’ grievances are addressed and ironed out in a bid to attract and retain passengers. In addition, this environment serves as the perfect setting for the organization to promote aviation principles and materials to members of the public. Such gestures endear the profession to them and create an interest in the industry thereby ensuring that more people are attracted to aviation.

Another role that the Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association plays according to Blair is that of advocacy. With such a large pool of members, there are bound to be conflicting ideas on some issues. There are also views that are favored by a majority of members that cannot be left to individuals to solve. Rather, the organization uses its influence to represent the views of its members to the relevant government authority. For example, whenever legislation to govern any sector of the aviation industry is required, elected officials lobby members of Congress to come up with impartial laws that would not cripple major players. This advocacy duty is very helpful particularly when there are concerns of minority members who feel that they may be disadvantaged by large corporations.

Bruce Landsberg was quick to remind me that it also acts as a custodian of different historical contexts since man’s quest to fly. By having the liberty of employing a large workforce, this alliance peruses many documents related to aviation and is thus able to archive important material for future reference. These materials are important as they chronicle the beginning of flying and include major innovations that have occurred over the years. Some of the documents are investigative reports detailing the causes of different air crashes along with their bold recommendations for preventions of future disasters.  They therefore form good learning tools that other agencies can adopt to deter or contain emergencies. He has found such materials useful in the twelve years he has been a member of AOPA.

The surge in passenger numbers has stretched different airport capacities across the country. This has prompted many airport operators to seek ways of securing funding to cater for large-scale renovations and expansions (Stewart 1). Members of the above organization have benefited from such assistance drawn from a welfare fund. Landsberg narrated to me how members can access it to handle these projects. Similarly, the General Aviation Restoration Fund is responsible for promoting educational campaigns and public awareness on the importance of general aviation in America. These campaigns sensitize the public on the positive attributes of general aviation. For example, a lot of money and time was spent in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks trying to regain people’s confidence in air travel. Various advertisements and conferences were held in collaboration with policy makers to convince the public of the heightened security checks in most airports and to advise them on ways of increasing their vigilance when traveling.

Interview Notes

The interviewees were generally well informed about the organization and its operations. They also showed a firm grasp of its historical origin and major changes in their mandate as dictated by various circumstances. The manner in which they expressed themselves was so passionate especially when the topic of air shows was raised. It was observed that they were nostalgic about the meetings they have with fellow AOPA members. They too proved to be active members by showing their frequent comments on the AOPA website as well as photographs of other AOPA sponsored events that they have ever attended. Hirschman even showed an interest in seeking a leadership position in the association and that shows that it is a vibrant group with a nationwide fan base. All the three people interviewed confessed to having a subscription of the AOPA magazine where they get regular updates of current aviation trends. They also confided in me that their families are huge supporters of this group leading them to predict a blissful future for this movement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Murphy, Kevin, Leisha Bell and Elizabeth Partie. “Airspace for Everyone.” AOPA Air Safety Foundation, 9 June 2009:1-15. Print

Peterson, Brian. “Do The Right Thing: Decision Making for Pilots.” AOPA Air Safety Foundation,  4 March 2006:1-7. Print.

Stewart, John. “The Expansion of Regional Airports Really a Good Thing?” Airportwatch, 8 Sep. 2009:1-12. Print.

Stoop, John and James Kahan. “Flying is The Safest Way to Travel: How Aviation Was a Pioneer in Independent Accident Investigation.” Ejtir, 10 Feb. 2005:115-128. Print.

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