Helicopter Association International has initiated a request to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for helicopters to be included in a little-used grant program that offers rebates to owners installing NextGen technology in certain types of aircraft.
The program, announced in June 2016, offered 20,000 rebates to owners of specific, smaller, general aviation (GA) airplanes who install ADS-B equipment in their aircraft. With the program expiring in September 2017, over 13,600 of these rebates remain available. Though helicopters were excluded from the program originally, HAI is requesting that the FAA allow GA single-engine piston helicopter owners be included through the end of the program.
“We appreciate that the FAA has made these grants available to fixed-wing aircraft owners,” says Matthew Zuccaro, president and CEO of HAI. “Since more than 65 percent of these grants remain available, we see no reason that the FAA should not offer the same opportunity to owners of small helicopters. Let’s give everyone a fair chance at these rebates.”
ADS-B (or Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) is a GPS-based system of air traffic control (ATC). Often called NextGen, ADS-B transmits an aircraft’s location to ATC controllers and back to the aircraft itself. ATC operators are therefore able to provide more precise control to all aircraft using the system, providing for safer, more efficient flights.
“When the FAA initiated this program, we asked why GA helicopters were excluded,” continued Zuccaro. “We were told that the target aircraft for this program were older, single-engine piston aircraft that typically had a value below $30,000. However, the application process for this program does not make any attempt to determine the actual value of the airplane in question.”
Zuccaro pointed out that there are a significant number of single-engine piston helicopters that meet the $30,000 threshold. HAI believes the FAA should give comparable GA helicopter owners the same opportunity over the last few months of the program.
“I’m concerned about the message you are sending to the GA helicopter community by their continued exclusion,” finished Zuccaro. “You’re basically telling them that the safety, well-being, and continuity of the fixed-wing community are of greater importance to the agency that the GA helicopter community. HAI and the FAA have been close partners for years, and we absolutely do not believe this was the intended message from the FAA.”
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