Oct. 18, 2022

The upcoming debate over FAA reauthorization was at the forefront of a discussion with three prominent members and aviation supporters in Congress at the No Plane No Gain Leadership Breakfast, held on opening day of the 2022 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE).

The event – jointly hosted by the NBAA and General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), co-sponsors of the No Plane No Gain industry advocacy initiative – featured a town hall session with Reps. Sam Graves (R-6-MO), Rick Larsen (D-2-WA) and Scott Franklin (R-15-FL).

Larsen, who chairs the House Aviation Subcommittee, noted the many bipartisan priorities on the table as Congress considers the next round of FAA funding in 2023.

“We have opportunities to make sure we take care of the ‘classic hits’ – safety, certification, air service and other issues – as well as the next ‘Top 40,'” he said. “Those are the things on the horizon, including new entrants to the airspace, commercial space and looking at the aviation workforce.”

That includes not only fostering a new and diverse field of aircraft pilots, maintainers and others, but also ensuring the FAA’s own workforce is up to the task of fulfilling its mandates to ensure aviation safety and certify new aircraft.

Graves, ranking member of the House T&I Committee and co-chair of the House General Aviation (GA) Caucus, noted he will also seek creation creation of a GA title on FAA reauthorization. While GA has always been on the bill, it would now be under its own title as opposed to incorporated into other portions of the bill.

“We also must do a better job of getting young folks involved in aviation,” he added. “Whether it’s to be a pilot, mechanic or technician, [training] takes commitment and it takes money. I know the industry is looking at some very innovative ways of bringing workforce in and helping to foster that [but] we really do need to be thinking outside the box.”

At the same time, business aviation stakeholders should also consider how the industry might support the FAA’s tasks and assist the agency in its mission, particularly as development of innovative technologies outpaces regulatory action.

Franklin, a former military pilot who flew in Operation Desert Storm, recalled his own experience “going to Bass Pro Shop” to buy a handheld GPS for use in the cockpit of his F-14 Tomcat.

“The traditional model has been that a lot of [aviation] technology originated within the military and then ultimately was pushed out to the civilian sector,” he said. “The pace of change we’re seeing now has been reversed [and] it’s going to require greater collaboration than we’ve seen before.”

The panel discussion, co-moderated by NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen and GAMA’s Pete Bunce, also highlighted the emerging advanced air mobility (AAM) industry and considerable progress toward achieving zero-net carbon emissions by 2050 through use of such measures as sustainable aviation fuel.

“From the excitement about what’s happening in commercial space, AAM and drones and everything in between, this is a really exciting time for our industry,” Bolen said. “We’ve got a good story to tell, but we must constantly be out there recruiting and making sure people are aware of it.”

The Leadership Breakfast also hosted David Boulter, vice-president of flight program operations at the FAA, who bestowed the agency’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award to Intrust Bank President and CEO Charlie Chandler, recognizing his more than 50 years of safe flying.

Learn more about the No Plane No Gain initiative.

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