Alphabets Sound Alarm at Town Hall
March 6, 2013
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    “An organized attack by the administration on business aviation,” was among the topics under discussion at the General Aviation Association CEO Town Hall moderated by HAI president Matt Zuccaro yesterday. Panelists–the leaders of AOPA, GAMA, NBAA, NASAO and NATA–also discussed topics ranging from the effects of sequestration to efforts to revisit aircraft certification standards.

    Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association president and CEO Craig Fuller spoke of the “growing outrage within the general aviation community” he has seen at meetings around the country and said that when Americans went to the polls last November “growing the economy was the most important thing to voters.” The administration’s efforts run counter to those concerns, he said.

    National Business Aviation Association president and CEO Ed Bolen pointed out that President Obama should be among the first to recognize the value of business aviation. “Air Force One is America’s corporate jet,” said Bolen. “He uses it for the same reason companies rely on general aviation aircraft,” noting the flexibility, security, ability to maximize efficiency and other benefits of traveling by general aviation aircraft.”

    Regulatory Changes

    Among the subjects General Aviation Manufacturers Association president and CEO Pete Bunce addressed was the current effort to modernize aircraft certification standards. “We need regulations that are adaptable,” Bunce said. “Regulations made 20, 30 years ago are not applicable today without different interpretations and judgments,” and said the FAA “is excited” about the current revisiting of Part 27 and Part 29 certification.

    Addressing the subject of what he called “the meat axe of sequestration,” Henry Ogrodzinski, president and CEO of the National Association of State Aviation Officials, noted, “There was a teleconference yesterday where the FAA talked about shutting down all the contract control towers,” Ogrodzinski said. “But those are primarily general aviation airports.”

    National Air Transportation Association CEO Tom Hendricks noted the importance of educating legislators through lobbying efforts, as his association does. “There will come an inflection point in the legislative process in the middle of the night when young staffers are told they have to get a deal done,” said Hendricks. “If you haven’t spent time educating people who are going to do that deal, you are going to lose in the legislative game in Washington.”

    Zuccaro highlighted another critical issue, legislative efforts to force the FAA to consider noise complaints in regulating air traffic–even though there are no studies regarding the issue–as the most pressing problem facing the rotor industry, along with the dearth of pilots and maintenance technicians coming into the industry.

    Despite the gloomy talk of assaults on business aviation, panelists said they remain optimistic the community can prevail by working together and expressed their determination to carry on the fight.