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The SSA, with a lot of effort, assisted by a letter writing campaign by chapters and commercial operators, was successful in persuading the TSA that gliders do not present a material threat, commented Dean Carswell, SSA Chairman of the Board. Accordingly, gliders will be exempt from the final rule a very substantial saving to chapters and commercial operators who would otherwise have been affected, he continued.

The first set of what TSA called an Interim Final Rule went into effect on October 20. The SSA analysis of these rules indicated that they would have had a chilling effect on glider flight training in this country. Of particular concern was the impact on commercial operators that host foreign nationals.

At that point, the soaring perspective was well-represented among the 280 comments which had been submitted to the TSA docket, said Judy Ruprecht, SSA's government relations volunteer.

Those comments were certainly part of the reason program definitions were recently re-interpreted, implementation of certain new rules was delayed until December 19 and an exemption was granted to simplify recordkeeping for students who are US citizens. Even with these changes, SSA estimated that the rules would have been directly responsible for a 15 to 20% decrease in soaring school revenues nationwide. This means SSA's business members and Chapters your soaring sites were still in real jeopardy. SSA stayed on the case. We continued to work with the officials at TSA and continued to encourage SSA members to provide their comments to the docket.

Our perseverance paid off in a big way. On October 29th, the TSA issued an exemption that eliminates glider operations, as well as airship and balloon operators, from the requirements from the AFSP.

This is BIG, exclaimed Dennis Wright, SSA's Executive Director. “Staff and members who commented to the docket brought well reasoned arguments for the exclusion of glider operations from these onerous rules, he added The result is better than we expected.

This demonstrates very well the role of the SSA in representing the soaring interests of its members. The fantastic results of this process is the result of a concentrated effort by not only staff, but volunteers and rank and file members to identify a common threat and work together to bring pressure and well reasoned arguments to bear on the politicians in charge of writing these regulations. No other organization in the United States is prepared to represent the interest of soaring pilots.

The Glider Exemption can be viewed and read.

Posted: 11/1/2004 By: Government Liaison Committee

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