What Have We Done For You Lately?

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For most members, the most visible programs operated by ICAS are our annual convention, our quarterly news magazine, our monthly Fast Facts e-mail newsletters, the new corporate sponsorship program and the ICAS-administered ACE program.

But, with an annual budget of $1.2 million, a full-time staff of six, , and non-stop activity at our Leesburg, Virginia headquarters office throughout the year, the ICAS board of Directors and staff are involved in many other issues as we represent your interests and those of the entire air show community. As the 2004 air show season draws to a close, we’d like to update you on a small sampling of those activities…some of which you may never have heard anything about.

Music Licensing

For six months earlier this year, ICAS worked on behalf of the entire air show community to broker a mutually acceptable arrangement for securing music licensing rights at air shows. For years, air shows playing pre-recorded, copyrighted music over public address systems have been in violation of U.S. copyright laws. But, when U.S. military lawyers insisted that air shows be in compliance with those laws when U.S. military aircraft participate, it became clear that the status quo was about to change and ICAS jumped into the fray to protect your interests. Recently, several months of intense negotiations yielded favorable and affordable terms for ICAS members with the three U.S. music licensing organizations: the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Musicians Inc. (BMI) and the Society of European Songwriters and Composers (SESAC). Some shows will reduce their annual music licensing liability by several thousand dollars. Most ICAS members will pay just $660 for music licensing each year. And all ICAS members will pay significantly lower fees than non-members. No one member organization working on its own could have secured these terms from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.

Charitable Contributions by Shows Hosting U.S. Military Aircraft

Earlier this year, a change in personnel at the Pentagon prompted a new and, for many civilian event organizers, potentially disruptive interpretation of an obscure U.S. Department of Defense regulation about the manner in which air shows might contribute money to local charities if they were hosting U.S. military assets at their show.  This issue – which has the potential to unravel the organizational structure of many civilian air shows in the United States – has not yet been settled, but – on your behalf – ICAS has been monitoring the issue, working with military lawyers to correct this new interpretation, and communicating with the appropriate individuals in the U.S. military to avoid the widespread confusion and re-organization that will occur if this new interpretation is allowed to stand.  It is unlikely that any one civilian air show would have been able to devote the time or become as well-educated on the details of this issue to be effective.

Revision of Chapter 49 of the FAA Field Inspector’s Handbook/Section 623 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations

Whether you are familiar with them or not, these two documents provide the regulatory authority needed for you to conduct air show flight operations in the U.S. and Canada. Changes to them can have broad and significant impact on both event organizers and pilots. For nearly four years in an effort to harmonize U.S. and Canadian air show rules, representatives from the FAA, Transport Canada and the Canadian military have been working to revise and rewrite Chapter 49 and Section 623. In the process, they have created a 70+ page document filled with, literally, hundreds of changes. On your behalf, a small group of ICAS members and staff have been monitoring those changes line-by-line and page-by-page to ensure that the new document has changes that help you or, worst case, don’t hurt you. Collectively, our involvement in this process has consumed hundreds of hours. In our most recent correspondence alone, ICAS made nearly 60 specific comments and suggestions for change in the most recent draft of the document. Though it’s still unclear when the final documents will be released for implementation, ICAS has committed itself to this process throughout the four years that it has been going on to represent your interests as an air show professional.

Spectator Survey

At a dozen air shows throughout the 2004 air show season, ICAS has cooperated with event organizers to conduct demographic surveys with approximately 1,500 air show spectators. At no expense to ICAS members and as it has done every two years for the last decade, ICAS has collected detailed demographic information and is in the process of analyzing this data to provide you with very specific demographic information on the kinds of people that come to North American air shows. From household income, education levels and ages to computer usage, sponsor recognition and distance traveled to attend the show, ICAS has collected precisely the kind of information that you need to provide an accurate and compelling statistical portrait of your audience. ICAS will then make all of this information available to you and our other members at no cost. ICAS even compiles this statistical information into an attractive, 16-page brochure that you can present directly to prospective sponsors and sells them to you at bulk prices.

Fan-Oriented Website

At no additional expense to ICAS members, ICAS recently invested nearly $20,000 to create a new website that will help fans and spectators learn more about air shows and air show performers, enjoy air shows more, and gain access to specific information about you or your organization. Visit www.airshows.aero and see for yourself how ICAS is reaching out to air show fans and spectators on your behalf.

Major League Stadium TFRs

Last year, Congress passed a law that established temporary flight restrictions in the vicinity of major league sporting events. When the FAA interpreted this to mean that an air show within three nautical miles of Cleveland’s Jacob Stadium could not be held, ICAS became involved immediately to both help the Cleveland National Air Show and ensure that other air shows would not be similarly affected.  Though this issue has not been fully resolved, early and active involvement by ICAS helped produce congressional legislation specifically written to exempt air shows from the major league stadium TFRs.

New Guidance on Conducting Air Force Air Shows

Over many years, ICAS has developed and maintained a strong working relationship with U.S. Air Force personnel and recently used that relationship to encourage the Air Force to re-write and update its guidance and direction to Air Force bases on how to conduct air shows and open houses. In part as a result of our involvement, the Air Force committed itself to writing Air Force Instruction 10-1004, a 100+ page document that will be released within the next few months to address a number of long-standing issues and problems that had made organizing an air show at an Air Force base harder or more complicated than necessary. Though not directly involved in the writing of AFI 10-1004, ICAS has commented on various drafts of the document and used its influence to encourage additional latitude and flexibility for the project officers charged with organizing and conducting air shows and open houses on Air Force bases.

When I began working in the association business in 1983, my boss told me that there were two schools of thinking in the association business. We could spend 36 hours of every week working on behalf of the members and four hours telling them about the work we’d done for them. Or we could spend four hours working for the members and 36 hours telling them about that work. For me, the implication was clear.

But there is an important balance to maintain, a balance that we have not maintained well during the last couple of years. You can’t know how hard your organization is working for you if we don’t tell you. And we can’t expect you to learn about these things through osmosis, ESP or the air show rumor mill.

So, expect to see periodic updates on recent ICAS programs, activities and initiatives in this space from time to time. And thanks for all that you do to make ICAS a vibrant, effective, responsive organization.

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John Cudahy
John Cudahy, ICAS President. | John Cudahy first joined ICAS as the organization's president in June of 1997. He has worked his entire 36-year professional career in association management, including more than two decades as the chief executive officer of ICAS. A graduate of the University of Virginia, Cudahy holds a private pilot certificate and is married with two adult children.