April 18, 2011

“In Missouri, we’ve made this a joint effort,” said Jeremy Cox, vice president of JetBrokers and a board member of the Greater St. Louis Business Aviation Association (GSLBAA). “We’re working with our counterparts in the business aviation family to advocate at the state level.”

The power of local general aviation groups working together was evidenced at the fifth annual Missouri Aviation Day in Jefferson City on March 29. First started by the Missouri Pilots Association (MPA), the advocacy day at the State Capitol has doubled in attendance each year since GSLBAA, the Kansas City Business Aviation Association (KCBAA) and the Missouri Airport Managers Association (MAMA) got involved two years ago. This year, nearly 500 representatives from these groups convened at the State Capitol to advocate for business aviation.

NBAA has been a sponsor of Missouri Aviation Day for the past few years and NBAA’s representative for the central region, Bob Quinn, encouraged GSLBAA and KCBAA members to participate.

“The advocacy work of these groups has really paid off,” said Quinn. “Because the business aviation community has come together around this event, they’ve really influenced the political environment.”

As participation in the annual event has broadened, the Missouri groups have had increasing success in advocating for policies that promote business aviation. Last year’s Missouri Aviation Day focused on defeating Senate Bill 1000, which would have pulled $2.3 million from the state’s Aviation Trust Fund.

This year, leaders from the local groups formed an informal advocacy committee to coordinate grassroots efforts and develop messages. The issues they focused on included a bill increasing the legal rights for maintenance and repair operations and the need for Missouri to adopt a fly-away sales tax exemption for aircraft purchased in the state.

The groups will next hold a follow-up meeting to debrief the Aviation Day and plan how to maintain the grassroots momentum. One initiative is launching an online forum to gather detailed data on how Missouri operators’ use of general aviation benefits their business and local communities. A key message at this year’s event was that general aviation contributes $2.4 billion and 16,000 jobs to the state’s economy.

“We’re trying to strengthen the national advocacy effort by making it specific to our local industry,” said Cox.