March 20, 2013
The House General Aviation Caucus held a discussion on Capitol Hill this week with actor and pilot Harrison Ford to highlight the value of general aviation to the nation, and the event served as an effective opportunity to showcase the many reasons business aviation is essential in America today.
Ford joined GA Caucus Co Chairs Reps. Sam Graves (R-6-MO) and John Barrow (D-12-GA) at the March 19 event to talk about the many contributions of general aviation to a policy audience that included other congressional lawmakers, Capitol Hill staff, reporters with several national news organizations and representatives from NBAA and other GA groups.
The event featured a large banner (shown at left), displayed beside Ford and Graves, which showcased individuals from across the business aviation community who have been featured in the most recent ad campaign produced for the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign.
The campaign is jointly sponsored by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), and the latest ad campaign is called ”Faces of Business Aviation,” because it puts forward real people in the industry to underscore for policymakers and opinion leaders the size, diversity and importance of business aviation in America today.
The banner at the March 19 GA Caucus event featured a dispatcher, two individuals who are small business owners and pilots, a business aircraft cabin filled with traveling salespeople and a small child on a humanitarian flight conducted by a business airplane to deliver the message: ”Business Aviation Works for Us…All of Us.”
In his remarks, Ford similarly noted the industry‘s humanitarian value, and the other important services provided by GA, even noting his personal involvement in humanitarian flights. He also pointed to other valued services provided by general aviation, including medical evacuations, emergency air support services, and search and rescue operations.
NBAA President and CEO welcomed Ford‘s participation in the House GA Caucus event, and the opportunity it provided to highlight the industry‘s importance. ”When NBAA and GAMA launched the No Plane No Gain campaign, we noted that we want to ensure that Washington decision-makers understand the many reasons why business aviation is essential to citizens, companies and communities,” Bolen said. ”We are delighted that Harrison Ford spoke to the industry‘s many benefits, and we thank Congressmen Graves and Barrow for organizing this important event.”
Because the GA community has been focused in recent weeks on the potential impact of the ”sequester” – or mandatory budget cuts to federal agencies, including the FAA – much of the GA Caucus forum focused on that topic.
Ford spoke forcefully about the importance of control towers as ”critical to flying”, calling the threats to about 200 contract control towers a serious issue that ”needs to be addressed immediately.”
He went on to warn that with the tower closures anticipated in the FAA‘s sequester-response plan, jobs will be lost and local economies around the country will be impacted. ”When you close a tower, you’re eliminating the operations that can happen there,” he said, noting that the industry provides over 1.2 million stable, high-wage jobs and generates $150 billion in annual economic activity.
The actor-pilot noted it will have ”a huge impact on small businesses,” as the closures cause businesses using aircraft to seek alternate airports for conducting their missions, further limiting access for small towns and rural areas.
The FAA plans to announce a final decision on its tower-closure plan on March 22.