July 12, 2014

Tarkio, MO was the venue for an aviation town hall meeting and an airshow on July 12, courtesy of Rep. Sam Graves (R-6-MO). NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, as in years past, participated in the town hall meeting at the annual event, along with other aviation advocates and members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Our thanks to Rep. Graves for this annual event, which provides an opportunity to hear from aviation supporters from across the Midwest and beyond and to share our views with congressional lawmakers,” said Bolen. “As co-chair of the House General Aviation Caucus and a member of the House Transportation Committee and its aviation subcommittee, Rep. Graves has a long record of championing legislation that fosters general aviation growth and opposing proposals that would harm the industry. We commend him for all his hard work on behalf of the general aviation community.”

The Tarkio aviation town hall meeting was another in a series of discussions led by Graves – a longtime pilot himself – to gauge feedback from across the broad spectrum of aviation stakeholders about issues affecting general aviation (GA). In addition to his efforts to hear from industry stakeholders in his congressional district, Graves has focused on general aviation priorities in Washington.

For example, earlier this year, Graves – chairman of the House Small Business Committee – held a hearing focusing on ways the FAA can better work with small companies. NBAA Member and entrepreneur Jamail Larkins testified, pointing out that some FAA policies could be made more workable and flexible for the agency and for industry alike. Read more about Larkins’s testimony before Graves’s House Small Business Committee hearing, held on Feb. 5, 2014.

At Graves’s July 12 Tarkio event, Bolen discussed the potential challenges for small businesses in the general aviation community in complying with an FAA mandate that all aircraft be equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipment and technologies by Jan. 1, 2020. The ADS-B equipment is key to the deployment of NextGen modernization of the nation’s aviation system.

Bolen also addressed the issue in written testimony he provided for a June 11 Small Business Committee hearing Graves held on the potential challenges small businesses might face as the FAA moves forward with NextGen.

“The industry needs further clarity on the FAA’s implementation timeline and what is required of operators to meet that timeline,” said Bolen. “We need a better understanding of what type of commitment operators must make for technology upgrades and new investments.” Read Bolen’s written testimony for the June 11 Small Business Committee hearing in its entirety.

The significance of the Tarkio aviation town hall was not lost on attendees or speakers. “Rep. Graves represents a rural district that relies heavily on GA for economic development and the delivery of vital services,” said Bolen. “He understands the importance of general aviation and has long been an opponent of per-flight user fees for general aviation.”

“We have doctors who come into the local hospital and use the airport because it’s much easier for them to get in, do their rounds, get back out and go to the next community,” Graves told NBAA in a 2011 video interview.

Other congressmen present at the July 12 meeting in Missouri included Rep. Bill Shuster (R-9-PA), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; Rep. Todd Rokita (R-4-IN); and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-16-IL).

“All these representatives are to be commended for their support of the U.S. general aviation community,” said Bolen.