Nov. 15, 2013

At the 2013 National Air Transportation Association (NATA) Aviation Business Roundtable, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen stressed the need for more federal support of general aviation, citing the recent government shutdown’s “unprecedented impact” on the industry.

“We are trying to make sense of a fiscal situation where the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] is looking at flat to declining budgets,” Bolen said in calling on policymakers to collaborate with industry on solutions that will enable the U.S. aviation system to continue to modernize and contribute to U.S. economic growth.

Bolen was part of the Nov. 13 roundtable discussion with five other industry leaders hosted in Washington, DC by NATA President and CEO Tom Hendricks.

In the current environment of government sequestration, or mandatory budget cutbacks at federal agencies including the FAA, “there are a lot of ideas floating around that would be counterproductive for general aviation,” Bolen said. One of these so-called solutions, privatization, could actually wind up costing the industry billions in public investment, he noted.

Bolen urged industry leaders to work together “to avoid any solutions that would be perceived as tax increases,” including continuing efforts to impose user fees on general aviation or eliminate accelerated depreciation for businesses purchasing general aviation aircraft.

Instead, he recommended that the industry work with the FAA to streamline core activities like certification of new aircraft and accelerating implementation of the NextGen air traffic control plan to create a more efficient air transportation system.

Hendricks said he was encouraged by increased willingness among industry sectors “to invest in each other’s interests.”

Bolen agreed, saying, “This new investment in relationship building creates the kind of trust necessary to gain consensus and start tackling the difficult questions that lie ahead.”

Contributing to the increased awareness of the industry’s importance among policymakers who attended the NATA event is the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign, which is cosponsored by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

The campaign promotes “the real image of general aviation as a job creator and an overall economic benefit to the U.S. economy and communities nationwide,” Bolen noted.

“There are a few principles we can all agree on: the need to grow our industry, modernize the air traffic control system and remain world leaders in aviation,” he concluded.

The panel itself was symbolic of the growing collaboration across the aviation industry, as it comprised experts representing airports, air traffic controllers, pilots, airplane owners and manufacturers.

Other organization leaders who participated in the roundtable included American Association of Airport Executives President Todd Hauptli; National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi; Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association President and CEO Mark Baker; and GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce.