Jan. 21, 2010

The fifth annual Arizona Aviation Day rally at the state capitol in Phoenix on January 20 drew a record number of participants, including state Governor Jan Brewer. The event was hosted by Arizona aviation organizations and companies.

“Aviation in Arizona is a powerful economic engine,” said Joe Husband, city of Phoenix aviation superintendent and a past president of the Arizona Airports Association. “It translates into jobs and tax revenue.” NBAA regional representative Dan Burkhart added that some 470,000 Arizona jobs are directly or indirectly attributable to aviation, with an economic impact of $38.5 billion yearly, or about ten percent of the state’s economy.

The urgency of this year’s message was underscored by the fact that Arizona’s lawmakers have been forced to cut more than $36.4 million from the state aviation fund in the last two years. “This Arizona rally was a chance to ensure our legislators really understand the value of aviation in Arizona,” said Burkhart.

This year’s event also marked the first time the state governor attended Aviation Day. “Governor Brewer is very supportive of what we’re doing,” said Arizona Business Aviation Association co-founder Rich Schuller, who talked with the governor several times during the event.

Participants expressed concerns that this year’s projected cuts in the state aviation fund will affect infrastructure at the state’s 84 airports. “What the highway fund does for roads,” said Jeffrey Tripp, airports project supervisor for Mesa’s Falcon Field, “the aviation fund does for airports.”

Burkhart added that cuts could have a multiplier effect on the state’s economy, but not in a good way, since FAA matching funds for airport projects depend on the state’s contribution. “So not only could the state’s aviation maintenance and improvement projects be delayed, but jobs could be affected, too,” he said.

The annual Arizona Aviation Day at the capitol will continue.