Dec. 10, 2014

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen reiterated his call for the aviation community to continue to collaborate on FAA reauthorization issues and NextGen progress, as moderator of a panel of industry leaders at a Dec. 9 Washington, DC event sponsored by the Airline Pilots Association, International (ALPA).

“We have had good industry dialogue with the FAA,” Bolen told the audience during the discussion about FAA reauthorization. “We have had the involvement of Congress, and I think we are beginning to see some progress,” he noted, while acknowledging that this progress has not been as fast as the industry would like to have seen.

“Because of the interactivity between the FAA and industry groups, we are beginning to see the emergence of a clear path forward,” Bolen added.

Bolen reminded the audience that modernization at the FAA and across the air transportation system needs to be carefully planned and implemented. “You start with what is today the largest, safest, most efficient, most complex, most diverse air transportation system in the world, and what we want to do is make sure we evolve this system effectively,” he said.

“We need to transform it from ground-based to satellite-based, from analog to digital, while making sure what we are doing helps us improve safety by improving our situational awareness, reduce aviation’s environmental footprint, increase the throughput of the system, and effectively keep the United States the world leader in all aspects of aviation.

“From a business aviation standpoint, we want and need a system that is robust; we believe that fundamental to the future of business aviation in the United States is our ability to access airports and airspace, and to do it in a timely, predictable and affordable way,” Bolen said.

“As we look to FAA reauthorization, we will be carefully evaluating access, predictability and affordability issues; we want to ensure we remain the best in the world,” said Bolen.

Bolen noted that NBAA and the general aviation industry have been active in advocating for FAA support in Congress, and that aviation system funding has been stable over the last 15 years. He stated that the challenge remains to ensure that funding for the agency and NextGen is sufficient, and reiterated that NBAA strongly believes that the fuel tax has been an effective and efficient way for general aviation to continue contributing to the modernization of the system.

“One thing all of our Members tell us is that from the point their wheels leave the pavement to the point their wheels come down, that operation is better in the United States than anywhere else in the world,” said Bolen, who added, however, that there are “still a number of issues we must work to resolve.”

Joining Bolen on the panel were Michael Robbins, ALPA managing director for government and public affairs, as moderator; Rich Swayze, FAA assistant administrator for policy, international affairs and environment; David Grizzle, CEO of Dazzle Partners, LLC; Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association; Todd Hauptli, president and CEO of the American Association of Airport Executives and Sean Kennedy, senior vice president for global public affairs at Airlines for America.