April 6, 2021

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen emphasized how the COVID-19 era has made clear the importance of effective communication between government and industry, in remarks he provided during an April 5 General Aviation (GA) Safety Town Hall presentation hosted by the FAA.

Participating in a discussion with FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and five other association leaders, Bolen noted that, while the pandemic has introduced unparalleled challenges, it has also prompted innovative thinking between regulators and industry stakeholders, including the formation of ways to operate in ATC Zero environments, protect unfettered access to airports, keep pilots flying and support other industry priorities.

Such opportunities for collaboration are “really what this year has all been about,” Bolen continued, adding the pandemic has presented “a tremendous time of cooperation, as we’ve tried to figure out how we move forward.” He also noted the importance of leveraging technologies used during the pandemic to promote enduring aviation priorities, “to get the word out about what we’re doing together to promote safety, advance aviation sustainability, and bring in a new generation of leaders from diverse backgrounds.

The industry didn’t “just stop and hunker down” over the past 12 months, he said, “but rather utilized the decrease in business travel to invest in readiness for duty, today and tomorrow.”

A second panel discussion addressed COVID-specific changes to general aviation safety, and the industry’s post-COVID outlook. Jamal Wilson, FAA Alaska ADS-B expansion lead and host of the town hall, also encouraged GA operators and trip organizers to continue following procedures outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when flying in the current environment.

The town hall closed with a Q&A featuring FAA subject matter experts, who addressed audience questions on topics including the agency’s recently issued COVID-19 guidance for aviation medical examiners in issuing pilot certificates; the FAA’s role in approving new technologies for training and on the flight deck; and concerns over efforts in some communities to close their local GA airports.