June 6, 2019

In comments delivered at the annual JetNet iQ Global Business Aviation Summit, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen pointed to a tradition – perhaps unique to the business aviation community – of meeting past and present challenges through collective unity, innovation and dedication.

Bolen explained, for example, how 25 years ago “our industry came together and passed the General Aviation Revitalization Act,” which mitigated the deleterious consequences of product liability lawsuits on aviation production and growth. The challenge “galvanized our community by showing the importance of manufacturing jobs,” Bolen said.

Turning to another illustration of his point, Bolen noted, “Ten years ago, the big three automakers flew to Washington, D.C., to ask for a federal bailout,” recalling that the optics of their arrival – having traveled in business aircraft, while claiming financial insolvency – was a public relations nightmare for general aviation. Uniting under the banner of No Plane, No Gain, the industry told the story of business aviation’s essential role in creating jobs, spurring economic development, connecting communities and supporting humanitarian efforts.

Bolen said that most recently, focused, industry-wide efforts have produced equally important outcomes, including the creation of the congressional General Aviation Caucuses – among the largest such coalitions in the House and Senate – as well as the industry’s united front in the battle to defeat so-called air traffic control “privatization” last year.

Bolen concluded by pointing to another challenge, confronting general aviation today, with significant implications for the future: a shortage of qualified professionals across the workforce.

In the continuing effort to attract and retain leaders and visionaries, “We have a good story to tell,” Bolen said. “Business aviation has what this generation seeks: technology, community, growth and opportunities for professional development, and pioneering efforts in sustainable flight. It is an exciting time filled with opportunity, and when we recognize the challenge, come together and work in a coordinated and communicative manner, we get a lot accomplished because we’re always marching forward.”