Sept. 16 2020

During the Minnesota Business Aviation Association’s (MBAA) September Town Hall Meeting, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen highlighted the critical role local and regional groups play in the industry’s advocacy and workforce development efforts.
“The hard work you do in areas like legislation and scholarships speaks to what’s best about the business aviation community,” Bolen told more than 70 MBAA members who attended the digital event.

During his presentation, Bolen outlined the current state of business aviation – including an overview of ongoing efforts to recover from the effects of COVID-19 – and offered a roadmap of the industry’s upcoming priorities.

A key priority in the advocacy arena will be replenishing the ranks of Congress’ General Aviation Caucus, which currently includes more than 200 House members and 30 senators, after this November’s election.

“All elections bring change, so the challenge for all of us is to make that change our friend,” he said. “We’ll look to our state and local groups to help build the GA Caucus up so that we have voices in Congress who understand our industry’s issues and how important we are to the economy.”

Another priority will be continuing to actively share the industry’s progress on sustainability, as well as working to increase the adoption of green products like sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) – a drop-in replacement for Jet A that Bolen highlighted earlier in the day at the first-ever Business Aviation Sustainability Summit.

“The challenge is that we have a great fuel that can offer 50% reduction in emissions on a gallon-by-gallon basis, but it’s not widely available and there’s a cost differential,” said Bolen. “How do we make sure we’re taking actions that will drive up production, lower costs and build up demand?”

With production centered largely on the West Coast, one potential solution he identified is a ‘book-and-claim’ system that will allow operators across the country to receive emissions credit for purchasing SAF that an operator in the west coast region will then use.

Pointing to MBAA’s substantial work on the scholarship front, Bolen identified workforce development as a third priority. There are no easy answers to getting young people in aviation, he said, but it’s critical that industry groups continue their efforts to expand talent pipelines and “put them in new places to build a stronger, deeper bench that we can pull from.

“Business aviation has new technology that kids get excited about, and it offers a sense of community that kids get excited about,” he said. “If we have the courage to open up and expose ourselves, they’re going to find something special here just like we did.”