May 23, 2016

With proposals for privatization of air traffic control (ATC) still being pushed as part of the FAA reauthorization debate in Washington, DC, it is imperative that regional business aviation groups continue reaching out to their congressional representatives, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said at the fourth annual NBAA Local and Regional Group Leadership Roundtable, held May 18 in Boston, MA.

“We need you to keep on doing what you’ve been doing: tell your elected officials why communities, companies and citizens across the country would be adversely impacted by ATC privatization, which would hand control of the system over to an airline-centric board of directors,” Bolen told attendees. “This would put general aviation at risk and would threaten the economies of rural communities, which rely on general aviation.”

The importance of regional business aviation groups was front and center at the roundtable, which was attended by more than 50 aviation advocates, representing 32 business aviation groups from across the country.

Bolen acknowledged the dozens of local groups that have answered NBAA’s Call to Action regarding H.R.4441, the bill which would privatize the nation’s ATC system, create a board of directors dominated by airline interests to oversee it, and implement new user fees to help pay for it. Bolen thanked the leaders with these groups, who also answered NBAA’s call to let Congress know they supported the Senate version of the bill, which reauthorizations the FAA without privatization measures.

The roundtable was yet another affirmation of how valuable and successful regional business aviation groups are in mobilizing on behalf of the industry’s priorities at the local and regional levels.

“In less than four years, the number of active regional aviation groups, as well as attendance at the roundtable, has nearly doubled,” said Steve Hadley, NBAA regional program director and Southwestern regional representative. “The roundtable is structured so that attendees from new groups can network with veteran business group leaders, attend workshops, and in one day learn pretty much everything about the best practices involved in getting their own group started.”

According to Hadley, about 30 percent of this year’s attendees were there for the first time, many of them from the New England area.

In addition to Bolen, key speakers at the roundtable this year included Amy Lind Corbett, FAA Northeast regional administrator; Jeffrey DeCarlo, Massachusetts state DOT aeronautics director and Massachusetts state legislators Sen. Donald Humason and Rep. Danielle Gregoire.