At our April meeting Joseph and Caitlin LoRusso and the AOPA Legal Counsel presented a program via Skype. The AOPA representatives were Ron Golden, Deputy General Counsel for AOPA and Scot Shealer, head of legal services for AOPA.
Ron and Scot talked about the importance of legal counsel. As most pilots are either unaware of, or uninformed of, their AOPA legal options. This is a critical time for the pilots of FNL because we are soon to be under an FAA microscope in the form of a virtual tower.
With over 64,000 FAA enforcement incidents, (not accidents) to date, when should you call and what should you say. They have over 12,000 so far just this year. AOPA Pilots Protection Services provide legal defense against alleged violations. They also provide tips and advice to avoid problems in the first place.
AOPA has over 750 attorneys who are also pilots who have a heart for pilots. There are 20 here in Colorado alone and are available 24 hours a day. With growing government regulations, even the best and most experienced pilots can make a simple FAR error or commit a U.S. Customs violation. Likewise, you could be grounded by a newly developed medical condition. Plus, contracts to own or rent an airplane are more complicated than ever. When these things happen, you need experienced professionals who can provide support and representation can provide support and representation to guide you through the system or provide proper defense.
In 2012 the legal and medical divisions combined and created the Pilots Protection Services and are only available to AOPA members. The basic package is $39.00, (but will be raised to $49.00 in June), and it could potentially save you thousands of dollars in attorneys fees. You can’t sign up for the services after the incident, but you can still contact them and they can assist you at a reduced rate. Think of it as “Legal first aid”. There are premier and lifetime options at discount rates. http://pilot-protection-services.aopa.org/PPS-Plan-Details
With the advent of drones the government has hired 41 new attorneys and since there are no specific regulations for enforcement, they are now just sitting around looking for something to justify their jobs.
On the PPS website for participants only, there is a variety of resources, newsletters, webinars, medical, and legal articles. If you’re looking for it, there is probably an article on it.
The presentation was followed up by a question and answer period where Joseph and Caitlin LoRusso fielded questions from the audience. http://www.lorussolegal.com/