December 13, 2011
Recognizing that communities in the state depend on general aviation (GA) and GA airports for both commerce and tourism, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on December 1 declared December General Aviation Appreciation Month in the state.
“Governor Jindal’s announcement is especially appropriate in light of Louisiana’s leading role in the evolution of business aircraft,” said Ed Bolen, President and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). “Jimmy Wedell and Harry Williams of Patterson, Louisiana played a key role in the Golden Age of Aviation in making airplanes the reliable, high-speed business machines we have today. We thank the governor for recognizing the importance of all general aviation, including business aviation, in Louisiana.”
Today, Louisiana is home to 74 airports, seven of which have commercial service. In recognition of GA’s importance, the state has undertaken 59 separate improvement projects at small community airports during the 2010-2011 planning year. And just two months ago, Governor Jindal announced an investment of $6.2 million in part for better access to one four community airports in the northern part of the state.
GA airports in the Bayou State are also being used as testing grounds for advanced technology. A test of a 165-point taxiway lighting system with LEDs instead of conventional bulbs is now underway at False River Regional Airport, a business-use airport northwest of Baton Rouge. A solar panel serves as a power backup for the lights.
In his proclamation, Governor Jindal notes that GA in the Bayou State contributes over $2 billion, or $454 per capita annually to the state’s Gross Domestic Product, which ranks Louisiana seventh in the nation in the importance of aviation to its economy. He also noted that GA employs nearly 8,000 Louisianans, who earn over $240.5 million annually. Other aviation and aerospace jobs in the state up the total employment to 11,000 jobs, with $416 million in payroll.
“GA plays a vital role in the State’s response to emergencies and natural disasters,” the Governor says, “and has a significant interest in the continued vitality of GA, aerospace, aircraft manufacturing, educational institutions and aviation organizations and community airports and airport operators.”
The Governor’s proclamation touched on the themes of the “No Plane No Gain” advocacy campaign jointly sponsored by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Louisiana becomes the 35th state to officially recognize the importance of business aviation.