“AZ48” Shelved

Per this prior post, I noted that the California attempt to constrain all flight schools under expensive “big operator” restrictions spreading to Arizona, as I was concerned it might. Why can’t I make investment calls this well?

The AZ PPSE board met Thursday 8/26 to discuss the possibility of part 61 flight schools requiring board oversight (with it’s attendant costs). 2 days prior, I’d received an e-mail from NAFI calling attention to this. I spread it around to a few local folks I know with a “pass it on” note.

Next question: Attend the AZ PPSE board meeting? I had other things to do, but my curiosity was piqued, it wasn’t a long trip, and I thought strength-in-numbers might actually matter. So, why not…

Enough interested folks attended such that the board decided to move the agenda item to the front. (Owners/operators of several local schools, some of whom I knew, made an appearance.)  After some board discussion explaining that they had done a fair amount of research on the differences between part 61 training and part 141 schools, and concluding that they did appear to grasp the difference between the two, discussion was opened up for public comment.

I’m not going to name names, or completely describe what I saw happen next. Not in writing anyway. I will point these things out:

  • One SAFE member did an outstanding job of making the case that recent headline-making school failures (which led us here) are nothing more than simple fraud. He was articulate, reasoned, and quite well prepared.
  • AOPA’s Western Region Representative presented a well prepared statement that few could argue with. Perhaps the California case was a rehearsal?
  • Multiple local school owners also helped to confirm the board’s understanding of the differences (and similarities) between 61 and 141 schools. After they spoke, the board appeared to be more confident in their understanding of what 61 training is all about.

In the end, the board had a strong majority opinion that no state statute exists which would put oversight of part 61 training operations under their supervision. Existing cases of fraud are up to the State’s Attorney to prosecute, as always. One implication: If the state legislature wanted to take up the issue of deposit protection for students (of any kind) asked to sign over large amounts, that was their discretion to do so. As far as the PPSE board was concerned, no more actions were warranted.

End of story, so I hope. Within the hour, notices of the decision were posted by SAFE, AOPA, and NATA. Clearly, lots of concerned parties were watching. Fool ’em once…

And, by attending, I actually understand how this mess got started. It sure isn’t a pretty sight.

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