December, 8, 2010

In a free webinar this week, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen updated Association Members on the progress made by the far-reaching No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign since its launch in February 2009.

As Bolen noted, the campaign – jointly sponsored by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) – is focused on correcting misperceptions about business aviation by educating policymakers and opinion leaders about its value to citizens, companies and communities across the U.S.

Bolen recalled that even before NBAA launched No Plane No Gain, the industry was engaged in efforts to correct misperceptions about business aviation. As an example, he pointed to the battle the Association had been fighting since 2006 to combat the commercial airlines’ attempt to tarnish the industry and shift the burden for funding the nation’s aviation system onto business aviation, through user fees.

Business Aviation is Essential

“On November 19, 2008, three automobile manufactures flew to Washington, DC, and were able to do in one day what the airlines were unable to accomplish in three years of attacks costing over $20 million,” Bolen said, recalling the disparaging remarks about the industry in response to the “Big Three” executives’ flights to Washington aboard company airplanes.

“We found ourselves under attack and launched the No Plane No Gain campaign with the goal that if people know nothing else about business aviation, they know it’s essential.”

NBAA and GAMA announced the launch of the campaign during GAMA’s Annual Industry Review & Market Outlook Briefing. Shortly thereafter, advertising appeared on cable news networks and in newspapers widely read by Washington decision-makers, with the four key No Plane No Gain messages:

  • Business aviation generates 1.2 million good, high-paying jobs in the United States;
  • Business aviation provides a transportation lifeline for communities with little or no airline service;
  • Business aviation allows companies to be more productive; and
  • Business aviation plays a vital role in humanitarian efforts.

NBAA and GAMA also made the Internet and social media tools a key part of the campaign, and the No Plane No Gain web site quickly became a repository of information for policymakers, media outlets, and industry alike.

“We made sure that this was not just a campaign of sound bytes,” said Bolen. “We wanted to back up everything we said with surveys, studies and data.”

For example, Bolen said, through No Plane No Gain NBAA and GAMA released a survey by Harris Interactive showing that business airplanes are mostly operated by small companies. and sponsored two studies by NEXA Advisors proving that by almost any measure of competitiveness, both small and large companies that use business airplanes outperform their competitors that do not.

To help people and companies in the industry make the No Plane Campaign their own, NBAA also released videos, fact sheets and other online tools, but as Bolen said, “Progress is not measured in what you do but with results.”

Progress Is Measured in Results

The impact of the No Plane No Gain effort has been visible in and outside Washington, Bolen said. In the nearly two years since the campaign’s launch, the House and Senate have each formed general aviation caucuses, including dozens of members from both sides of the political aisle. Additionally, 18 state governors have issued proclamations recognizing the value of business aviation.

“We moved policymakers from being against our industry to not just being neutral but to being publicly supportive,” said Bolen.