Aviation Law Presentation

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/

Meet Our Members

Jason Kopp

Jason graduated from Midland, Texas and as all good Texans, was fully planning on going to Texas A&M, however at the last minute an opportunity arose for him to attend Pensacola Christian College with a friend.

Being last minute, he saw no way for it to work out but with the persistence of a dedicated mom and maybe a small miracle, he found himself on his way to Florida.

That just might have been his most fortunate change in his life, for it was there that he met his future wife. It didn’t take long for the couple to decide Pensacola wasn’t a good fit so they moved to Michigan where Angie was from.

They began a life there, Angie taking classes for cosmetology and he began his temporary career as a tool and die maker. He often talked about becoming a pilot, so one year Angie gifted him with a discovery flight. That only served to fuel his passion, so with a second child on the way, he enrolled at Regional Airline Academy in DeLand, Florida in 2002. After graduating a year later, he became a flight instructor with the same school as a way of building his hours.

In 2004 he got a job with ExpressJet Airlines, Continental Express, as a First Officer on the Embraer 135/145. In Dec of 2006, he upgraded to Captain, a rank kept even through the down turn of 2008. He worked with the Pilot Mentor Program, which provided guidance during a new hire’s first year at the air carrier. It was during this time he saw the importance of instilling leadership, integrity, and flight safety qualities in the next generation of pilots.

During the time between 2007 and 2010, he decided to try and expand his scope of experience by applying for opportunities both at Emirates in Dubai and Tianjin Airlines in China. They both fell through during this time. Although China contacted him later, his life had taken another side step.

One day in 2007 while his wife was at the community pool in Houston, she had a chance encounter that led to a friendship that would play an intricate role in their future. Angie’s new friend was married to a corporate pilot and it was through this connection that ultimately led to the family moving to Colorado and working for some company called OtterBox. In 2010, Jason had an opportunity to play a part in the startup of the company flight department. After meeting the owners, this calmed any hesitation to uproot his family and shortly thereafter the U-Haul was packed and the family was on their way. He was the second pilot hired and was in charge of building aircraft checklist and a flight operations manual. In 2012, the Chief Pilot position became available and Jason was chosen. He oversaw the expansion and transition of the flight department to Blue Ocean Aviation, LLC, an aircraft management and services company, from three Pilots and a Line Tech to at its peak, six Pilots, Director of Maintenance, Maintenance Lead Technician, Line Services Tech, and an Aircraft Scheduler/Admin. The fleet also grew to a total of 4 managed aircraft and also a new hangar was built. To say the least, he was busy.

With the foundational pieces in place and the dust starting to settle, you will find him continuing to learn and fine tune the operation. Also taking the time to be more involved in the local aviation community and lending his experience to help where needed. You’ll find that Jason has a list of quotes in his phone that he likes to use from time to time. Here are two you might hear:

“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” – Zig Ziglar
“Worry about being Better, bigger will take care of itself.” – Gary Comer

He is extremely grateful for the opportunity that was given in his current role, the people throughout his career that helped and gave advice along the way, an extremely patient and encouraging pilot’s wife, and being able to do what he loves while raising three kids in beautiful northern Colorado.

My view from the right seat

I’ve always loved to travel. By the time I graduated high school I had been in 35 of the 50 states and two foreign countries, so it stood to reason that my choice of careers would involve the airlines. So after high school I attended Atlantic Airlines in Kansas City, Missouri. I had no desire to become a flight attendant, but ground reservations suited my fancy just fine.

Well, as I’m sure you all know, life has a way of not working out the way you had envisioned it. It was the time of Jimmy Carter and long lines at the gas station. Back in Denver, Continental laid off around 800 employees. I knew they would all be hired back before they even gave me a second glance, so I went to work at a local automobile dealership where the office manager took a liking to me and taught me the ins and outs of bookkeeping, a skill that I would use for the next four decades.

My life turned into years of family, horses, 4 H, PTA meetings and life in general. Eventually I got a job in the office of a local construction company where I spent over a decade. This company also owned a gravel pit, so not only did I have to deal with OSHA, I had to deal with MSHA. Because gravel is found near rivers, I had multiple government agencies I had to report to for the “Wetlands Act”. By the time the business was sold, I was ready to just become a data entry clerk. Enter a company by the name of Appliance Solutions, The Maytag Store and a gentleman by the name of Rob Pehkonen, and the rest, as they say is history.

I started as a data entry clerk but an injury on the job and my experience with workers compensation turned me into the Human Resource Department. Rob and I spent hundreds of hours working together, especially after Whirlpool bought Maytag out and it became a huge tangled mess of inventory issues, product availability and all that goes with a merger.

You could not ask for a more kind and giving individual. I would hear him in the office arranging Angel Flights, listening to Christmas music, any time of the year. Rob was also responsible for bringing the Collings Foundation to FNL. Sometime in June he would walk into the office and say, “War birds will be here…” and he would give me a date. From that point on I knew I would be the only one in the office as he would be busy, “in his happy place” as someone called it. I also knew my part in the event. I got on the phones, arranged rooms and meals for the pilots and crew as well as all the accouterments an event that size would need.

That brought me full circle back to the airport and now here I am a member of the FNL Pilots Association. I love being around planes and the atmosphere but I have no desire to become a pilot. I am perfectly happy with my view from the right seat.

WINGS, Part 2: Online Learning

Last month I talked about flying for WINGS credit. This month I’ll talk about learning on your computer or smart device for WINGS credit.

The FAA Safety team offers many courses for credit. When the new program started in 2007, the few courses they offered were pretty clunky. But since then they’ve partnered with AOPA and other providers, and the choices are good. Most of the programs available from the AOPA Air Safety Institute may be used as credits in the WINGS program (requires AOPA membership).

To access FAA Safety’s view of available courses, log on to your FAA Safety account, hover over Activities, Courses, Seminars & Webinars and click Courses on the pulldown menu. Then in the blue Catalog of Available Courses box, click Show WINGS Courses.

Notice that some courses cost money and others require you to be at a certain place at a certain time. It appears to be unsorted, other than the free courses appearing before the ones that cost money.

Another way to get to the courses is to go to your My WINGS page (hover over Pilots at the top and choose My Wings), and click Search next to one of the Knowledge Activities.

I’m working on my next WINGS phase, and decide to satisfy Knowledge Topic 1. On my My Wings page, I click Search on the Topic 1 box.

Scrolling down the list, I find Course ALC-82, “Do The Right Thing: Decision Making for Pilots”. I click its Select button which returns me to my My WINGS page. My selected activity now populates Knowledge Topic 1, with Status showing Enroll. I click there, and am enrolled for the course.

Usually, following the link to the course actually connects you to the course. However, when I follow the link to this particular course, I end up at the list of AIr Safety Institute courses, rather than at the Do The Right Thing course; AOPA probably moved a link associated with ALC-82 that caused things to get out of sync. No problem; I find the course in the list and start it. Now I’m ready to learn something and get credit for it. Feels like school.

Less than an hour later…

Very informative course, and I got 14 out of 15 questions right on the quiz, which is a passing grade. At the end, I’m asked for the email address associated with my WINGS account, and it assures me I’ll get credit. By the time I get back to my My WINGS page on FAA Safety, I’ve already received course credit. (This is really nice; when the program first started, it could take days or weeks before your credit for an AOPA course would show up.)

If I take one course in each of the topic areas, I’ll have my written requirements completed for my next WINGS phase. The three topic areas may be redefined from time to time depending on what areas of study the FAA wants to emphasize. Currently the topic areas are:

  • Knowledge Topic 1: Aeronautical Decision Making
  • Knowledge Topic 2: Performance and Limitations
  • Knowledge Topic 3: everything else (including Preflight Planning, Risk Management, and Fuel Management)

You can also sign up for WINGS credit when you attend a FAA Safety-sanctioned safety seminar. On the signup sheet at the event, write the email address associated with your WINGS account, and the event presenters will give you credit for the course, in the appropriate knowledge topic. Most seminars generate a credit for Topic 3, the catch-all topic.

That’s all there is to it. You’re more knowledgeable, the FAA is happy with you, and your insurance company is happy with you. Next month I’ll write about how to use the WINGS program as a substitute for your Flight Review (formerly known as a BFR).