Washington, DC, March 17, 2010 – National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen appeared today before a congressional committee to demonstrate the industry’s ongoing work to enhance aviation safety, including for on-demand operations.
Bolen testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation, where he was joined by other industry leaders. Today’s hearing was prompted by a report from the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General regarding the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) oversight of on-demand charter operators.
“NBAA commends Congress for taking a hard look at aviation safety and continuing to work with us to build on our long-standing safety emphasis,” Bolen said.
Bolen highlighted how NBAA Members’ ongoing commitment to safe operating practices has helped the general aviation community achieve a level of safety comparable to that for the nation’s commercial airlines. This safety emphasis, Bolen noted, has been the driving force behind continual improvements in technology and training, and steady declines in accident rates.
Because the hearing was focused on on-demand charter safety, Bolen also pointed to his co-chairmanship of an industry-government Part 125/135 Aviation Rulemaking Committee, formed in 2003, and charged with updating safety regulations for on-demand operators, while allowing flexibility to accomplish a wide variety of missions. In 2005, the ARC submitted more than 140 recommendations to the FAA addressing a myriad of issues affecting operations including pilot training, flight duty and rest limits, FAA oversight, and other matters.
Bolen reiterated that the ARC collaboration between government and industry was designed to enhance charters safety, but that most of the ARC’s recommendations had yet to be implemented.
“We hope that the ARC’s recommendations will be adopted as soon as possible,” Bolen continued. “At the same time, we didn’t look to the conclusion of the ARC’s work as reason to rest on our laurels when it comes to general aviation safety, including charter safety.”
Bolen outlined several steps government could take beyond those recommended by the ARC to further advance general aviation safety, including the enactment of specific new and recurrent training for the FAA’s Part 125/135 inspectors, and an increased emphasis on balancing Part 125/125 inspectors’ workload with available resources.
Looking to beyond the specific recommendations Bolen provided for on-demand operations, he pointed to another long-standing priority for enhancing aviation safety: continued transformation to a Next Generation (“NextGen”) air traffic control system.
“We know that the upgraded, satellite-based NextGen system will produce gains for safety, and also for efficiency, carbon-emission reduction and other priorities,” Bolen said. “Although our industry has been confronted with one of the worst economic storms anyone has seen, we remain committed to Congressional proposals to increase the industry’s fuel tax to help support investment in aviation system modernization because of the important safety and other benefits it will produce.
“As we know,” Bolen continued, “business aviation plays a vital role in the nation’s economy and transportation system. The industry helps generate over one million jobs, serves towns with little or no airline service, helps companies be more efficient and competitive and supports people and communities in crisis. But in order for all of those essential functions to continue, safety must continue to be a central part of the industry’s focus and planning.
“That’s why there is no greater priority to NBAA and its Members than aviation safety,” concluded Bolen. “We will continue to work with all government leaders in support of the shared goal of keeping the U.S. aviation system the safest in the world.”
Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 8,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.
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