April 29, 2011

The first in a series of economic summits designed by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R-KS) to grow the state’s economy kicked off on Monday, April 25, focusing on general aviation (GA). Later summits will ask other industry leaders for input, with ideas from all summit meetings used to formulate an action plan for creating jobs.

More than 160 leaders from aviation companies, the state’s colleges and universities, unions, and local and state government attended the summit. In the opening session, they heard Gov. Brownback declare that Kansas must get out of its “defensive posture in aviation and get on the offensive position.

“We’ve got all of the assets,” Brownback said. “Kansas is the birthplace of general aviation [GA] and home to many aviation pioneers, including Clyde Cessna, Lloyd Stearman, and Walter and Olive Beech, and continues to be a base for many of the world’s leading business aircraft and aerospace manufacturers including Boeing, Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft, Bombardier Learjet, and Spirit AeroSystems.”

Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. reminded attendees that “aviation is a critical economic engine of the Kansas economy. Governor Brownback and I are committed to fostering a climate of innovation through state policies that allow Kansas aviation companies to succeed.”

In a later roundtable discussion, Cessna Aircraft CEO Jack Pelton suggested a unique tag line to attract businesses to Kansas: “Government getting the heck out of your way.”

Pelton cited redundancies in state and federal regulations that add costs. He also addressed the politically sensitive issue of GA manufacturing in China, saying that by building relationships with China, U.S. industry is helping ensure that the nation of 1.3 billion people will be consumers of GA products.

GA industry and educational institution leaders offered suggestions for encouraging GA enterprises, including:

  • Incentives to companies using Kansas suppliers.
  • Government presence at trade shows.
  • Trade agreements with countries where it is difficult to do business.
  • The marketing of Kansas suppliers to the world.
  • Trade missions to other countries, such as China, to promote the sale of aircraft.

Kansas Aviation Appreciation Month Proclaimed

At the conclusion of his remarks at the summit, Brownback also revealed an official proclamation naming May 2011 as “General Aviation Awareness Month” in the State of Kansas. The proclamation makes Kansas the 23rd state since 2010 to officially recognize the value of aviation, including business aviation.

“[Kansas] plays a pivotal role in aviation’s significant impact on our culture and our history by producing more aircraft than anywhere else, earning the nickname of Air Capitol of the World,” said Governor Brownback, “and the United States leads the world in aviation manufacturing, technology development and utilization.”

“We’re delighted that Governor Brownback placed general aviation at the head of his economic recovery sessions,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “Kansas has a rich and storied history of aviation development and manufacturing, starting with an ambitious farmer from Rago, Kansas named Clyde Cessna who built his first wood and fabric airplane there 100 years ago, in 1911.”

The Kansas Aviation Appreciation Month proclamation included the achievements and goals expressed in the “No Gain No Plane” campaign, jointly sponsored by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

View the proclamation from Governor Brownback highlighting the value of general aviation in Kansas. (223 KB, PDF)