Oct. 29, 2015

Nine Florida lawmakers recently gathered for the inaugural meeting of the state’s first general aviation (GA) caucus, in recognition of the industry’s significant contributions to the state.

Co-sponsored by state Rep. Charles Van Zant and state Sen. Thad Altman, the caucus held its initial meeting on Oct. 22, with a second gathering tentatively scheduled for January during the regular legislative session. The caucus marked the culmination of efforts by the Florida Aviation Business Association (FABA) to have a group in the state legislature that would recognize the industry’s importance.

NBAA representatives attended the inaugural meeting, along with FABA and representatives of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Florida Airports Council, the South Florida Business Aviation Association, Piper Aircraft and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

“Given the significance of general aviation, including business aviation, to our state, there was an obvious need for such a caucus in the Florida legislature,” said FABA Executive Director Jenny Showalter. “I’m very hopeful that this caucus will help lawmakers gather useful information to help them make their decisions affecting our industry.”

Florida ranks among the top three states in total economic impact from general aviation in terms of gross domestic product and total jobs supported by the industry, according to a 2015 PricewaterhouseCoopers study commissioned by NBAA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and six other aviation groups.

The Florida GA Caucus is expected to play a significant role during the 2016 legislative session as the legislature considers a tax exemption on aircraft sales and related services. Greg Voos, NBAA Southeast regional representative, noted that Florida currently loses aircraft closings revenue to other states, despite being home to one GA aircraft manufacturer and being the site of production facilities for a second.

“Aviation stakeholders within the state are very keen to remain competitive, and we’ve seen how similar tax exemptions have helped other states keep that revenue at home,” said Voos.