Dec. 2, 2020
The economic impact of COVID-19, workforce development efforts and the proposed pilot records database (PRD) were highlights of the Dec. 2 NBAA GO Virtual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (VBACE) Legislative and Regulatory Hot Topics session, as presenters described the “hand-in-glove” work of the NBAA government affairs and operations teams in 2020.
The session was conducted by NBAA’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Christa Lucas and Vice President of Regulatory and International Affairs Doug Carr, and moderated by Alex Gertsen, NBAA’s director of airports and ground infrastructure.
The legislative and regulatory agenda for 2020 has largely been dictated by the pandemic, presenters noted. From a legislative perspective, the goal has been to keep businesses open, while the regulatory priority has been keeping operations going.
Legislative responses included economic relief and recovery efforts, such as the Payroll Protection Program and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which have assisted businesses in maintaining staffing levels, while the FAA has helped companies continue operations by allowing extensions to certain medical, testing and checking activities.
Carr advised attendees to “stay tuned,” particularly for potential international travel restrictions.
“Don’t be surprised if last-minute restrictions interrupt your travel,” Carr said. “Be prepared with not only Plan B, but additional [plans] as well.”
Lucas updated attendees on workforce issues, saying, “Workforce [development] dominated conversations internally at NBAA and on Capitol Hill prior to the pandemic.”
The pandemic is actually an opportunity for the industry to catch up on workforce shortages, Lucas explained, as NBAA led efforts to pass the Promoting Service in Transportation Act, which focuses on public service announcements encouraging young people to pursue careers in transportation segments.
Meeting workforce demand is only one goal of these efforts. Diversifying the workforce is another important mission, as the industry strives to reflect the population as a whole.
Carr also provided an update on the FAA’s recent PRD proposal, saying the association’s previous work with the FAA, including participation on an Aviation Rulemaking Committee, wasn’t reflected in the agency’s proposed rulemaking. Lucas added that the PRD, as proposed, is “onerous with no direct correlation to increased safety.”
Looking ahead to 2021, Lucas said she anticipates a new focus on infrastructure spending and sustainability after the White House transitions to the new administration under President Joe Biden. Carr said he expects the FAA to continue its efforts in advanced air mobility and unmanned aircraft systems.