The International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) is a non-profit federation of 73 autonomous, nongovernmental, national general aviation organizations. IAOPA has represented international general aviation for more than 35 years.
The combined total of individuals represented by these constituent member groups of IAOPA is over 470,000 pilots, who fly general aviation aircraft for business and personal transportation. General aviation is defined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as "All civil aviation operations other than scheduled air services and non-scheduled air transport operations for remuneration or hire."
- To facilitate the movement of general aviation aircraft internationally, for peaceful purposes, in order to develop friendship and understanding among the peoples of the world and to increase the utility, of the general aviation airplanes as a means of personal and business transportation;
- To coordinate with other international and national organizations to promote better understanding of general aviation's requirements and further the interests of the membership;
- To integrate the views and requirements of member organizations with regard to international standards, recommended practices, procedures. facilities and services for international general aviation, providing forums as appropriate for meetings of representatives of the member groups;
- To advance the interests of general aviation internationally and to represent the membership on matters of interest to general aviation at pertinent meetings of the International Civil Aviation Organization, WMO, ITU, EEC, etc.;
- To encourage the implementation of planned systems, facilities, services and procedures in order to promote flight safety, efficiency and utility in the use of general aviation aircraft;
- To encourage representatives of national general aviation member groups to meet with and work with their national authorities in the interest of promoting better understanding, enlightened regulation and adequate facilities for general aviation;
- To encourage the collection from ICAO Contracting States and dissemination by ICAO of information, data and statistics relating to general aviation to provide a meaningful base for development of technical programs.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of the U.S.A. spearheaded the formation of IAOPA. An interim organization came into being on February 2, 1962, with four other groups joining AOPA-U.S. to form the nucleus of what was to be the permanent organization. The founding groups were:
- Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assn.-U.S.A.
- Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assn.-Australia
- Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assn.-South Africa
- Canadian Owners and Pilots Assn.
- Philippine Airmen's Organization (AOPA Philippines)
One of the provisions in the IAOPA Constitution and Bylaws is that only one organization will be accepted from each country.
An informal objective worked out between the founders and ICAO headquarters officials was that a minimum number of countries would be represented in IAOPA before the organization would apply to ICAO for official status. In the interim, IAOPA participated in ICAO meetings by specific invitation.
The permanent IAOPA organization came into being on October 22, 1964. On this day the organization also was accorded accredited status by ICAO.
There are currently 68 IAOPA affiliate organizations representing the interests of more than 470,000 aircraft pilots and owners worldwide.
The governing authority of IAOPA is the Executive Board, consisting of the chief executives of all affiliate organizations. Regular meetings of the Board are held at least every two years in conjunction with the associations World Assembly. Regional meetings are held periodically, normally semi-annually.
The President and five Regional Vice Presidents are elected for four-year terms. The Senior Vice President is appointed by the President from the ranks of the Regional Vice Presidents. All serve without remuneration from IAOPA. An appointed Secretary General, ICAO Representative and Administrator constitute the Secretariat of the organization. The secretariat is located in Frederick, Maryland, USA and regional offices are located with their associated vice presidents.
The association provides representation at all major ICAO meetings of interest to general aviation and to a number of the their regional meetings, working groups and panels wherein general aviation is involved. Experts on general aviation operations are drawn from the IAOPA affiliates to provide representation at ICAO meetings and at many other conferences of international bodies.
The representatives for each meeting are drawn, so far as is practicable, from IAOPA affiliates in the area of the meeting. These are supplemented by staff of the IAOPA secretariat and as necessary.
IAOPA positions on contemporary matters under consideration by ICAO and other groups are formed through dissemination of agenda items and working papers to affiliates. The resulting comments and recommendations are consolidated by the secretariat to form policy. A monthly newsletter is sent to all affiliates and more than 150 other interested organizations and aviation leaders around the world.
Each IAOPA affiliate pays annual dues according to its total membership to support the secretariat operations of the organization.
IAOPA works closely with international association in the formation of policies and presentation of positions to ICAO and other world aviation standards setting and regulator bodies. These include the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Associations, International Air Transport Association, International Federation of Air Line Pilot Associations, Airports Council International, Civil Air Navigation Services Organization, International Business Aviation Council and Federation Aeronautique International.
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.
Since IAOPA was formally recognized as an international organization 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 licences and type ratings, including any associated radio telephony rating or licence.
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 Licencing 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 Licencing.
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 Licencing 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-licencing 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.
This document describes all standing general and specific policies adopted by IAOPA. Most of these statements were developed as a consequence of discussions of held at the biennial IAOPA World Assemblies and issued as resolutions. Still others are generated by the Secretariat in response to worldwide and regional issues and delivered in the form of position papers at international forums. The manual is reviewed regularly and updated as necessary.