1. Today, how healthy is EAA compared to when you took over the leadership in October 2012?

We’ve experienced 3% membership growth during the last three years, with membership now at 190,000 to 200,000. We still have an age issue with so many baby-boomers retiring, but we’ve expanded our ranks with our student membership and Young Eagles programs. We’ll fly our 2-millionth Young Eagle at AirVenture 2016.

We’re expanding our Sport Pilot certification program for people 17 and older. For people who arrive at Oshkosh with their Sport Pilot ground instruction completed, they can earn their Sport Pilot certificates in three weeks. We’re also now offering scholarships to help offset expenses.

2. What’s the impact of FAA medical certification reform on EAA?

Members tell us “Well, yes, thank you.” It’s a step in the right direction. We got all we could. There’s been a lot of emotion on this issue on both sides without having any data. It’s still not blanket approval to use a driver license to fly a light aircraft.

There’s still a “one touch” rule in effect, requiring that you’ve had a Third Class Medical during the last ten years or a current Student Pilot Certificate. At least you can use your own physician. And most health care providers pay for one free physical exam every year.

3. What has been the response to EAA’s earning FAA Supplemental Type Certification (STC) to installing Dynon Electronic Flight Information System (EFIS) to replace vacuum and mechanical instruments in general aviation aircraft?

In partnership with FAA, we’re looking at affordable solutions to enhancing general aviation safety. FAA now is amenable to allowing commercial off-the-shelf consumer grade equipment, that doesn’t have a TSO, to be installed in GA aircraft, if it improves safety. Since our announcing the program at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in, we’ve had more than 1,200 inquiries. The first STCs for Dynon EFIS-D10A will be available for EAA members at AirVenture 2016. We’ll be announcing STCs for the larger 7-inch Dynon EFIS-D100 and adding Cessna Cardinal and Skylane to the list of approved aircraft.

Our next initiative will be to develop an affordable autopilot STC.

4. Any thoughts on establishing a UAV division at EAA?

We’re trying to figure out those plans now. We want to add more affinity groups, such as our joint efforts with the Soaring Society of America announced in February. We’ve long had a model aircraft affinity group. As far as UAVs go, there’s a definite separation between recreational and commercial UAV sectors. We’re interested in the recreational UAV sector. There’s an evolution towards autonomous flight and UAVs provide a path to the future.

5. When will AirVenture visitors be able to put FAA-approved unleaded fuel in their aircraft?

This year, we’ll have an EAA MOGAS fuel truck that will sell and dispense fuel for aircraft in which such fuel use is approved. Also, Swift Fuel will sell and dispense unleaded 94 MON avgas, a drop-in replacement for 80/85 avgas, at the ultra-light landing strip on the south side of the field.

As far as a replacement for 100LL, FAA has until 2018 to complete certification work on a drop-in replacement fuel. But, it’s still not clear that it will be approved for high output engines, such as the Lycoming TIO-540 and Continental TSIO-520.

Even if it’s approved for all piston engines, there are economic and logistic issues. If they can’t make money at it, oil companies won’t play. FBOs won’t want to install a third fuel system during the transition from 100LL to unleaded avgas. Ultimately, environmentalists may force a quick transition, if they can prove leaded avgas is a carcinogen. But, if the transition puts undue financial pressure on commercial operators, there may be delays in implementation.