October 04, 2012
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is countering an online news outlet’s claims that the organization is moving away from its work on behalf of general aviation in favor of commercial activities.
In an Oct. 1 article, Aero-News Network Editor-In-Chief Jim Campbell contends that the organization is engaged in an ongoing shift toward competition with aviation service companies that have supported AOPA financially through advertising, dues and other revenue. The account points to unnamed reports that AOPA has exhibited “overtly competitive behavior … in the insurance, publications, media and flight planning business models.”
AOPA, however, says the claims are without merit. In particular, President Craig Fuller says that AOPA has provided members with a variety of services for many years and that its suite of digital flight planning products called FlyQ does not represent a departure from stated goals.
“We felt that the tens of thousands of members who come to our site to use this service could benefit from something more current,” Fuller writes in an open letter. “Have we been competing in this marketplace for dozens of years? Yes, we have. Will we continue to compete in the marketplace? Yes, we will. Isn’t that the idea about having a marketplace? Shouldn’t we be encouraging innovation and affordable technology solutions to come to market?”
Meanwhile, an AOPA spokeswoman tells Aviation Week that the organization “has a clear and focused mission to preserve our freedom to fly and this has not and will not change.” She says AOPA is shifting gears to keep up with changes to the industry, but that dealing with matters of legislation, taxation and infrastructure will continue to be “a dominant AOPA focus.”