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ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: [Acro] Re: ICAS & Aerobatic Cometency Cards

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ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: [Acro] Re: ICAS & Aerobatic Cometency Cards


Thread: [Acro] Re: ICAS & Aerobatic Cometency Cards

Message: [Acro] Re: ICAS & Aerobatic Cometency Cards

Follow-Up To: ACRO Email list (for List Members only)

From: Cudahy at

Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 15:58:23 UTC


  I talked with Dave Leedom this morning and he suggested that I post some of 
my comments to him here so that others can understand the ACE program a bit 
better. Though I'm hesitant to extend this conversation any longer, there are 
some important comments to pass along.

The Statement of Aerobatic Competency card processing fee that all air show 
pilots pay to ICAS to have us process their cards pays for much more than 
just the processing of that card. It helps us pay the $16,000 premium that we 
pay to carry $5 million in liability insurance. It pays for those cards that 
end up taking many hours to process as well as those cards that are issued 
quickly. It pays for conference calls when the ICAS ACE Committee meets to 
conduct its business every four to six weeks. It pays for printing and 
distribution of the ICAS ACE Manual.  It pays for my time when I spend the 
better part of one full day answering angry e-mails from IAC members about 
how the ICAS ACE program is administered. It pays for my time and the time of 
other ICAS staff members when we get into the middle of a dispute between a 
particular FSDO and a particular pilot about what certifications that pilot 
can and cannot have on his card.

We've done time sheet calculations. I spend 20 percent of my time on 
ACE-related issues. Our principal administrator of the program spends a bit 
more than 50 percent of her time on the program. And a third ICAS staff 
member spends approximately 15 percent of her time. That's a deep commitment 
for an organization with only four full-time employees. When ICAS charged $50 
per card, it was losing money on the ACE program. $50 was not nearly enough 
to cover the actual costs of the program. Three-quarters of the expense of 
administering the program was being absorbed by ICAS. Which is to say, ICAS 
members were underwriting the cards of both members and non-members. We had 
to change. The current charge of $200 is an accurate reflection of the true 
costs of administering the program and will not change for at least the next 
two or three years. It's understandable that people don't want to pay us $200 
to get their cards. If I were an air show pilot, I wouldn't want to pay ICAS 
$200 either. But that's how much the program cost to administer. If we 
charged anything less, the program would be losing money.

We operate the ACE program as a net-zero program on our budget. We don't want 
to make money from Statement of Aerobatic Competency application processing 
fees, but we don't want to lose money either. At $200, we've just about 
achieved that balance.

With the exception of applications that are received in November and 
December, the typical application is processed in three to five days. Any 
number of people can accurately point out that their card took more than 
three to five days. Some can even say that it took a lot longer than three to 
five days. But, by and large, applications received here at ICAS are usually 
back out the door to the FSDO within one business week. And, for those 
keeping score, this was also true for Dave Leedom's application. We received 
it on May 13 and we sent it to the FSDO on May 17. His buddy paid us an 
additional $50 and we processed it in less than an hour. Frankly, I'm very 
happy that our system worked well in both cases.

Finally, please call or write if you have questions. I've received 
approximately two dozen e-mail questions as a result of Dave's original post. 
We're more than happy to answer questions, clarify policy or explain a part 
of the program that might be bothersome. And we'd certainly much rather have 
the chance to explain these things to you than leave you assuming that we're 
doing something underhanded or unethical. There's no mystery or conspiracy 
here. We're running a small business and trying to make air shows safer 
without losing money or imposing too much of a burden on the pilots that 
perform at those shows. We don't always hit the bull's eye, but it's not for 
lack of trying.

John Cudahy
International Council of Air Shows


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