Strong stakeholder relationships were crucial to blocking the so-called “Stop the Chop” legislation in New York state, which would have banned all nonessential helicopter flights in the New York City metro area. The bill also would have allowed any individual to sue a pilot, line service professional, flight department or company employee for contributing to rotorcraft noise pollution.
NBAA, other allied national associations and regional organizations worked together to present New York legislators and the governor with accurate data regarding the benefits of aviation and explain the unintended consequences of the bill. Blocking access to heliports would have violated the funding obligations of the heliports. The bill also would have circumvented federal preemption, as the FAA, not an individual state or municipality, holds jurisdiction over U.S. airspace.
The bill also had potential implications statewide as general obligations of the bill didn’t seem to limit jurisdiction, explained Bruce Geiger of the New York Aviation Management Association (NYAMA).
“NYAMA, NBAA, the Helicopter Association International (HAI), AOPA and others worked together as a team to block this legislation,” Geiger said. “Once it started, it moved very quickly and required fast mobilization.”
“HAI is fortunate to have a vast network of regional and local partners that are organized, highly engaged and always ready to mobilize,” said John Shea, HAI’s director of government affairs. “Their relationships and insights are some of the first assets we utilize when developing advocacy strategies and engaging legislators. These relationships are especially vital when problematic bills like Stop the Chop get traction, and we need to launch a grassroots advocacy campaign.”
“Having relationships with regional groups and other national aviation groups is crucial. It allows one organization to take leadership and the rest to work together to support the initiative.”
Brittany Davies NBAA Northeast Regional Director
NBAA, HAI, the Eastern Region Helicopter Council (ERHC) and others worked in lockstep with the regional and local organizations to activate call-to-action campaigns at a critical phase in the process.
“ERHC, along with other highly engaged regional and local groups, played a pivotal role in activating thousands of the governor’s constituents, which undoubtedly led to the outcome that we all wanted,” said Brittany Davies, NBAA’s Northeast regional director.
“Having relationships with regional groups and other national aviation groups is crucial. It allows one organization to take leadership and the rest to work together to support the initiative,” Davies said.
In this case, NYAMA was able to help coordinate meetings with the appropriate representatives in the governor’s office as other local groups worked additional angles.
“Regional representatives act as a conduit with all parties involved,” Davies said.
In December 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul vetoed the Stop the Chop bill. Nonetheless, proponents of limiting access to airspace and heliports in the New York metro area are still working to promote that agenda. NBAA and its national and local partners will continue to leverage their relationships to ensure continued access and preserve federal preemption.
Savannah Area Aviation Association
In 2022, land-use changes were required to accommodate a redevelopment project at Georgia’s Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV), prompting some general aviation aircraft owners to seek new hangars and storage facilities. SAV is the only public-use airport within 20 miles of the majority of the population of Savannah and Chatham County, so relocation is impractical for most users.
After identifying communication gaps, the Savannah Area Aviation Association (SAAA) was launched to serve as a liaison with a general aviation focus between SAV users and the facility’s sponsor, the Savannah Airport Commission.
Ultimately, SAAA hopes to assist the commission in accommodating a range of storage and service options to enable all SAV general aviation operations to grow with the surrounding area.
“NBAA’s regional directors foster these relationships to help local organizations promote their initiatives. So when NBAA is in need of a strong, connected regional group to work local issues, they’re there,” said NBAA Southeast Regional Director Greg Voos. “We encourage our members to engage with local and regional groups. Working together, we can help solve common challenges and meet common goals.”