Making The Case For Business Aviation
June 4, 2010
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  • Carl Lavin,

    Business aviation veterans who have handled every type of weather became ill from one scene in Washington in November 2008. Three top auto industry executives flew private jets from Detroit to plead for a federal bailout. Couldn’t you have jet-pooled, one congressman asked?

    For an aviation industry already hit hard by the global recession, the scene cast a harmful stereotype in sharp relief. Here was more evidence that private aviation was expensive, wasteful and elite.

    Within months, pilots, aircraft owners and plane manufacturers were striking back. Newly energized advocates organized around a new leader at a top trade group with an extensive government background and a new congressional caucus. Two other trade groups published a new business aviation survey, showing that most business flights ferried technical, sales or service staff or middle managers.

    “Only 22% of passengers on business aircraft are top management,” according to the October 2009 survey prepared for The National Business Aviation Association and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

    Their survey also found that most companies operating business aircraft are small, with fewer than 500 employees, and that 80% of flights are made to airports with infrequent or no airline service.

    Industry advocates knew they had work to do to make a positive impression on Capitol Hill, but they also knew they had plenty of allies in both parties. Organizing a General Aviation Caucus in both the House and the Senate brought together the strongest elected voices supporting business aviation.

    Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla., helped found the House caucus last year and wants to be sure the government keeps private flying safe and accessible. “As a pilot myself, I know that I appreciate easy access to general aviation airports,” he said.

    Craig Fuller, who became president of the largest aviation group in the world, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, in January 2009, brings decades of public policy experience to the task of advocating for general aviation. Fuller was chief of staff to then Vice President George H.W. Bush and has been flying since he was 16.

    “We want the government to continue to allow us the freedom to fly,” Fuller said in an interview with Forbes, adding that such freedom “is in many ways uniquely enjoyed” in the United States. “That means,” Fuller added, “not over regulating or over taxing to the point when people can’t afford to do it.”

    Source: FORBES
    Date: 2010-06-01