October 3, 2013
Govs. Deval L. Patrick of Massachusetts and Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia both issued proclamations this month reaffirming their appreciation of general aviation (GA) and naming October as the month to celebrate the industry in their respective states.
“Massachusetts’ public-use airports support over 124,000 direct/indirect jobs with an economic output of nearly $12 billion annually, and the Commonwealth’s general aviation airports account for over 4,300 direct/indirect jobs with nearly $444 million in economic activity annually,” Patrick said in proclaiming October General Aviation Month.
The proclamation was the second time the governor has officially recognized general aviation. The first time was in 2011.
Massachusetts has long supported GA and business aviation as a means to boost its economy. In 2012, the commonwealth unveiled a 10-year, $125 million plan for maintenance and safety improvements at community airports and produced a video specifically to help Massachusetts legislators, business leaders and citizens understand the benefit of GA, particularly business aviation, to the state’s economy and its overall quality of life. NBAA helped produce that video.
Also last year, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation broke ground for a $23 million expansion at its facility on the Westfield-Barnes Airport in Western Massachusetts.
“Gov. Patrick has seen first-hand the job growth and increased economic benefit attributable to aviation in the commonwealth,” said Dean Saucier, NBAA Northeast regional representative. “This proclamation recognizes the Massachusetts aviation community and shows what aviation means to the state.”
Tomblin’s proclamation of GA Appreciation Month was the state’s fourth overall, and he took special note of the benefit of GA where mountains deny direct roadways. “Given our state’s geography, a great many businesses and communities depend on general aviation aircraft and small aircraft of all types for access to medical treatment, mobility, economic opportunity, disaster relief and a wide range of critical resources,” he said.
NBAA Southeast Regional Representative Harry Houckes offered an example of business aviation’s advantage in West Virginia. “It takes about five hours to drive from the eastern panhandle to the capitol city of Charleston, but less than an hour to get there by business aircraft,” he said. “Many states have more airports, but few depend on business air transportation more than West Virginia.”
Houckes noted that of West Virginia’s 32 public airports, only Huntington and the state capital of Charleston have any unsubsidized airline service. There are 2,200 pilots who live in the state and 1,370 registered aircraft there.
GA in West Virginia contributes $616 million, or $333 per capita, to the state’s economy, and the state’s total aerospace industry has a direct wage and benefits impact of about $46 million and supports about 3,200 jobs.
Nearly all U.S. states have officially recognized the value of GA, including business aviation, with all proclamations including at least some of the basic tenets of the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign, which was launched in 2009 and is sponsored by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.