Overall, the various associations that make up IAOPA have greatly increased the awareness of their respective government authorities and the public as to the nature and needs of general aviation. Constructive contacts with national authorities have been most productive and have been encouraged throughout by the activities of the IAOPA organization.
In order to assist the national organizations in this effort, IAOPA has produced a set of guidelines and helpful hints for use by the various national groups in how to best work with their national authorities.
There is strong evidence that the efforts of IAOPA and its constituent groups have produced a growing recognition and respect for general aviation in the general public, and international bodies as well as within the national governments of many States.
In the thirty-two years since IAOPA was formally recognized as an international organization (1964-1996), it has provided representation for general aviation at hundreds of major international meetings and at a greater number of smaller meetings of panels, working groups and international conferences. As a result, IAOPA has become well established as the international representative for general aviation on a worldwide basis.
The requirements of international general aviation now are routinely considered in deliberations of the International Civil Aviation Organization as well as by other world bodies, such as the European Economic Community for Aeronautical Meteorology of the World Meteorological Organization.
As international air travel increased after World War II, the facilities and procedures for clearing international flights through customs, immigration and health inspections were, in most cases, designed to handle the scheduled airlines. These facilities and procedures often did not readily accommodate the international general aviation flight and were located in the main at airports serving the international air carriers. One of the first objectives of IAOPA was to improve the handling of international general aviation flights by advocating facilities and procedures at international airports that could be used conveniently by general aviation.
The opportunity to advance this objective came when IAOPA was invited by ICAO to participate in the ICAO Sixth Facilitation Divisional Meeting in Mexico City in 1963. This was the first of many meetings where IAOPA spokesmen were successful in gaining recognition of the needs for better facilities for international general aviation flights. Included were agreement that States should provide facilities for clearance, servicing and parking of all civil aircraft at international airports, that the member States of ICAO should publish in their Aeronautical Information Publications the regular working hours of public authorities at international airports, that general aviation aircraft from any member State of ICAO shall be admitted temporarily by all other member States without payment of customs duty, and that tourist cards, where required for visitors, should be provided by pertinent States at all international airports.
At subsequent ICAO meetings, IAOPA recommendations included subjects encompassing every facet of general aviation flight operations, from airspace rules to personnel licensing.
In 1964, IAOPA was accorded official status for the 5th European Civil Aviation Conference. At this meeting, one of the IAOPA proposals that was agreed upon resulted in recommendations that States should take measures to facilitate validation procedures for foreign-issued private pilot licenses and type ratings, including any associated radio telephony rating or license.
One of the most significant ICAO meetings for IAOPA and general aviation was the 15th ICAO Assembly in 1965. At that meeting, specific agreement was reached that ICAO International Standards and Recommended Practices should consider the requirements of all of civil aviation. Heretofore, the requirements considered were mainly those of the scheduled airlines. This laid the groundwork in ICAO for work that culminated in the adoption and issuance by ICAO in 1968 of Part 11 of Annex 6, devoted exclusively to International General Aviation.
The international definition of general aviation "All civil aviation operations other than scheduled air services and non-scheduled air transport operations for remuneration or hire" was established by ICAO in Annex 6. This definition provided the foundation for meaningful discussions of general aviation requirements, since general aviation aircraft and operations were greatly outnumbering those of the airlines in many parts of the world.
With greater recognition of general aviation, IAOPA proposals at subsequent ICAO conferences met with agreement on a variety of subjects beneficial to general aviation flight operations. Included were the need for providing international general aviation airports in regional plans and provision of weather information suitable to the needs of general aviation. The latter subject matured to the point where the ICAO European Air Navigation Planning Group established a Working Group on Meteorological Services for International General Aviation. IAOPA was represented on that group. Provision of weather reports and forecasts adequate for general aviation on a worldwide basis have been advanced by IAOPA spokesmen at a number of ICAO Divisional and Regional meetings with a resultant growing acceptance of the need by national authorities.
Another area of concern to IAOPA was some national authorities imposing permanent IFR requirements on certain of their airspace, regardless of weather. This restricted the flight of general aviation aircraft where the pilot is not rated for instrument flight. The IAOPA approach to this problem has been three-pronged. First, to advocate elimination of the requirement entirely. Next, to permit VFR operation in controlled airspace, and lastly, to establish a category of controlled VFR operations to be used for VFR flights in airspace that otherwise would be usable only by IFR flights. The measure of IAOPA success may be judged from ICAO Annex 2 that now contains definitions of "controlled airspace" that recognize categories where (a) only IFR is permitted; (b) where only IFR and controlled VFR flights are permitted; and (c) both IFR and VFR flights are permitted, but VFR flights are not subject to control.
To implement the concept of controlled VFR, IAOPA advanced working papers at the ICAO Divisional Meeting on Personnel Licensing in 1970 advocating the creation of a rating for controlled VFR flight, for use by those States where needed. This was agreed to and in due course such a provision was included in Annex 1, Personnel Licensing.
By 1985, the need for a controlled VFR rating had diminished due to a general acceptance of control of VFR traffic by ATC and improved capabilities of general aviation pilots in most areas of the world. Because of this, IAOPA agreed in deliberations at ICAO headquarters that the controlled VFR rating could be eliminated.
IAOPA participated in the ICAO Personnel Licensing and Training Panel, which is reviewing the provisions of Annex 1 governing the licensing and training of pilots of all grades. This Panel was established by ICAO as the result of very controversial recommendations made by an earlier study group that would, if adopted, have resulted in re-licensing more than 1,000,000 general aviation pilots worldwide. IAOPA led the efforts to have those recommendations modified to more practical and acceptable terms.
Another extensive effort involves work by ICAO to review the standards and procedures for VFR flight and amend, as necessary, the relevant ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices. As with the Personnel Licensing and Training Panel, the original proposals made at meetings in Paris were unacceptable and would have severely restricted general aviation operations. At a worldwide group meeting in Montreal, the ICAO Visual Flight Rules Operations Panel, finalized revisions that would aid rather than restrict general aviation VFR operations. IAOPA played a key role on this Panel.
While much of the foregoing concerns contributions by the overall IAOPA organization, many additional benefits for general aviation have been gained by IAOPA constituent groups through their efforts on a national level with their governmental authorities. For example, through the efforts of AOPA-Sweden, certain restrictions on night VFR operations were removed. In the United States, through constant effort by AOPA-U.S., customs hours have been extended and overtime charges for inspection outside regular hours have been reduced. This benefits general aviation from many countries in international flights into the United States.
As well, IAOPA has represented international general aviation on ICAO panels considering the future communications, navigation, and surveillance (CNS) systems planned for the 21st century. The ICAO Council's Special Committee on Future Air Navigation Systems (FANS) has succeeded in outlining a "blueprint" of future services and user requirements that is favorable for both business and personal use general aviation operations. In addition, IAOPA is a member of the Aeronautica Mobil-Satellite Service Panel (AMSSP) that is developing the future communications systems outlined in the FANS blueprint.