PRESIDENT'S PERSPECTIVE

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President's Perspective – Much to Discuss at This Year’s NBAA Convention

By Ed Bolen

NBAA’s 61st Annual Meeting & Convention (NBAA2008) promises to be another exciting gathering for the industry.

Exhibit space at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center sold out in July, with a total of 5,302 exhibit booths expected. That’s above last year’s record 5,257 booths. Nearly 100 Information Sessions are planned, and over 120 aircraft will be on static display at Orlando Executive Airport (ORL).

As the industry convenes at NBAA2008, it seems a good time to touch upon some of the many challenges we face, and the work NBAA is doing to address them. In Washington, the airlines continue working to impose user fees through a campaign to vilify general aviation, and policymakers are increasingly focused on aircraft emissions. Beyond the Washington Beltway, NBAA Members are confronted with high aviation fuel costs.

The airlines have been campaigning for more than two years to distort perceptions about general aviation in hopes of winning legislation that includes user fees to fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Congress has yet to complete its work on the issue, so at the time of this writing, a legislative extension is funding the FAA. NBAA will continue urging Congress to pass legislation that builds on the proven, efficient fuel tax, so that we can continue the work of transforming the nation’s aviation system. Members will remain critical to making sure that the industry’s voice is heard on the issue.

Aircraft emissions have been on the agenda in Washington this year, and NBAA has promoted policies that support business aviation interests while minimizing its emissions. NBAA believes one effective way to lower emissions is to continue work already underway to move to a more efficient satellite-based air traffic control system. With aircraft fuel prices above $8 a gallon at some U.S. airports this summer, your Association has been active in looking for ways to assist Members and look for solutions.

In addition to providing Members with ideas for saving fuel, NBAA has taken action to advocate for longer-term solutions. For example, I represented business aviation at a Washington energy summit to explore approaches to cope with the crisis.

NBAA also joined a diverse coalition, Stop Oil Speculation Now, which brings together aviation, highway, agricultural and other interests to support policy proposals for containing fuel costs. As part of that effort, NBAA signed a letter to members of Congress urging action to call a halt to disruptive oil speculation. (More on NBAA’s work in this area is detailed in an article on the following page of Business Aviation Insider).

Clearly, there are many issues confronting the industry, and NBAA will continue to advocate for the business aviation community. I look forward to hearing your comments on these and other matters at the Convention. But I also know that many people in our industry are often unable to make the annual show. If you’re one of them, you can always share your thoughts with us at [email protected].