Candidates Should Highlight Invaluable Services of GA

October 16, 2012

Greetings from Washington! In advance of tonight’s second presidential debate, the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) is encouraging both President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney to focus on the vital role that aviation plays in the U.S. economy.

The general aviation industry employs 1.3 million people and contributes more than $150 billion to the U.S. economy. It’s important that our leaders recognize the massive job-creating role of general aviation. Aviation is the critical component that connects the U.S. economy, and we simply cannot take it for granted or use it for partisan political purposes.

In the first presidential debate, President Obama erroneously implied that general aviation received unfair tax breaks, but, without question, general aviation pays its fair share of taxes. Clearly, both candidates need to focus on the more important issue: our significant contribution to the U.S. economy. When the U.S. economy comes roaring back, general aviation is going to be playing an important role in the front lines.

I am hopeful that as both candidates participate in tonight’s town hall debate they will take the opportunity to highlight the invaluable services that the general aviation community provides to the U.S. and global economy now and moving forward.

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Highlights and the Road Forward

October 8, 2012

Greetings from Washington! Having completed my first month as president and CEO of NATA, I want to reflect on some of the significant highlights and provide an update on where I can be found in the coming weeks.

I spent the second half of September getting to know our NATA staff individually to find out what they feel works well and to learn more about areas of opportunity for improvement. We also met collectively to discuss our board’s vision for the association in the coming years.  We’ll work hard over the next few months to develop goals and strategies to support that vision. Our main priority, however, is to make sure that this vision is shared and supported by our staff and membership alike.

Early in my tenure, I pledged to continue building on important relationships with industry leaders and government officials to help us fully understand and effectively tackle key issues. In late September, I addressed NATA’s Presidents Council on its monthly conference call to discuss our vision for the association. I was also very pleased to meet with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Deborah Hersman, Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Transportation Security Administration Administrator John Pistole to discuss the importance of general aviation to our economy and pledged to work with all three to craft solutions to industry issues that work for everyone. I am also excited that both Mr. Huerta and Mr. Pistole graciously accepted NATA’s invitation to speak to industry leaders at our upcoming Aviation Business Roundtable on November 13-14 in Arlington, Virginia. And this past week, NTSB Member Robert Sumwalt paid a visit to our offices to meet the staff and discuss opportunities for NATA and NTSB to work together.

Finally, we have been working very closely with Beacon Aviation Insurance Services to ensure that our members are offered the best array of benefits in our new Workers’ Compensation Insurance program set to launch January 1, 2013. To find out more about the benefits of this exciting new program, visit

In October, my schedule includes a visit to the 20 Group in Fargo, the AOPA Summit in Palm Springs, and the NBAA Convention in Orlando, and on November 1 a speaking engagement at Auburn University. I look forward to these upcoming opportunities to meet NATA members, and I am excited to get the chance to speak to the faculty and students of Auburn about the importance of aviation now and in the future. I hope to get a chance to meet or talk to each of you soon!

What the General Aviation Industry Means to the Economy

October 4, 2012

During the first presidential debate, both candidates discussed their solutions for cutting out spending and raising revenue. President Obama expressed his support for tax reforms that would significantly affect the general aviation industry. Before either candidate engages in heated campaign rhetoric, they should carefully look at the importance of general aviation to our economy.

General aviation is an important part of the U.S. and global economy. Nearly 70 percent of all general aviation aircraft worldwide are based in the United States. That’s more than 223,000 airplanes ranging from two-seat training aircraft to intercontinental business jets that put Americans to work. The general aviation industry employs 1.3 million people and contributed more than $150 billion to the U.S. economy last year.

As I continue to meet NATA members, I see the hard work the people in our industry perform every day. Twenty percent of our members have six employees or less and 30 percent have 20 employees or less.  Our members are helping to protect and grow jobs in a tough economic environment. Whether it is helping a business leader travel to meet new clients and grow his or her business, or performing maintenance on an airplane before it rushes donated organs to a hospital, our members provide vital services.

The candidates’ comments remind us that we have an opportunity to provide industry leadership and to ensure that our voices are heard in Washington so that aviation continues to play an important role in the economy now and into the future.  We must be thoughtful when we work with policymakers to help them understand the shared interests of our members, our industry, and our nation. We have an opportunity to work with both parties in Congress and the Obama Administration on issues important to us and to communicate the value of our industry to the economy. We can be the voice of the general aviation community.

There are more debates to come and the candidates will continue to talk about their plans to fix our economy. But when the dust settles after the November elections and the new Congress begins in January 2013, we will be ready to work with whoever is in the Oval Office and Congress to build a stronger economy and strengthen the general aviation industry.

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