Two Years In – Continuing to Unlock NATA’s Value

September 25, 2014

Greetings from Washington!  NATA continues to make great progress in becoming a widely-admired, world-class trade association.  Advocacy is something hard to explain to “Main Street,” but without an advocate in the Washington policy arena, individual companies and industry segments run the risk of becoming victims of the process.  NATA is here to prevent that from happening and below are great examples of the value created by a strong, bi-partisan and member-driven trade association.

Improving safety performance is NATA’s most important responsibility.  We do this in several ways.  Our much-heralded Safety 1st program is helping lead the way in providing a wide array of tools for businesses to manage risk and prevent daily practices from crossing the line to unsafe conditions.  It’s working fabulously.  Under the leadership of Mike France, this program is widely recognized as the gold standard for properly training line service, supervisory and FBO leadership employees.  NATA worked with the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) to bring the Safety 1st Ground Audit Standard into the international realm by developing the International Business Aircraft Handling (IS-BAH) Standard (see related article).  The international demand is building rapidly as businesses recognize the value created by a common set of standards accepted throughout the world.  NATA and IBAC are off to a very quick start in providing this groundbreaking standard for our industry.

In addition to the menu of programs offered through Safety 1st, NATA members are dominating the rankings for FBO excellence through two highly-regarded FBO surveys.  Annually, Aviation International News (AIN) and Professional Pilot (Pro Pilot) recognize the best FBOs in the business.  It is pretty obvious when analyzing the survey results that there are two common themes for success:  Most of the companies recognized are NATA members and the vast majority participate in NATA’s Safety 1st programs.

In the 2013 Pro Pilot Praise Survey, 91% of the Top FBOs were NATA Members and 86% used Safety 1st training.  Further, 85% of Independent FBOs were NATA members and 80% used Safety 1st.  The 2012 survey was a different format. That survey only named the 10 Best FBOs and all of them were NATA members and Safety 1st participants.

Similarly, of the AIN FBO Survey winners in 2014, 91% were NATA Members and 89% participated in Safety 1st.

Founded by NATA, the Air Charter Safety Foundation continues to provide programs that bring outstanding value for charter and corporate operators.  Most charter operators are familiar with the ACSF Industry Audit Standard, which is rapidly becoming a widely-accepted standard.  Additionally, one of the most exciting new programs is the development of Aviation Safety Action Programs for both charter and corporate operators.  Focusing on safety in all realms that our businesses operate, both ground and air, ensures NATA retains the “high ground” when speaking on behalf of our industry.

These results are no coincidence and point squarely to the acceptance of NATA, Safety 1st and the Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) as key value generators that no other trade association can bring to bear.  NATA continues to invest on refreshing our online training offerings to provide the most up-to-date content and relevance and the ACSF is an emerging, industry-leading voice for aviation safety.

There are many other examples of the great strides NATA is making for our industry.

  • NATA and our sister organization, NATA Compliance Services are now providing the Known Crewmember® Program to all U.S. Part 135 and 125 pilots and flight attendants.  This nearly two-year effort will bring tremendous value to over 50,000 U.S. crewmembers.
  • NATA formed and led the California AvGas Coalition that most recently completed a multi-year strategy to successfully settle this very onerous case against California FBOs and fuel suppliers.
  • Along with other General Aviation associations, NATA is helping fund the cost of providing a co-executive director of the Piston Aviation Fuel Initiative.  The FAA recently announced several contenders for the next phase of this critically-important initiative.
  • NATA is a key player in discussions about the future structure of the FAA.  I was interviewed by the FAA Management Advisory Council on this topic and will ensure that General Aviation’s voice remains strong, relevant and opposed to any model that imposes user fees.
  • NATA has established a very robust and constructive dialogue with both the IRS and Treasury Department on the imposition of Federal Excise Taxes on certain aspects of aircraft management agreements.  We were able to coordinate a key meeting between FAA lawyers, IRS and Treasury to enable them to better understand the complex way in which U.S. aviation businesses are regulated.

There is much to be proud of with our accomplishments these last two years.  Not only do NATA’s finances remain strong and sustainable, but we continue to build our reputation as honest brokers in Washington and elsewhere through quiet, solution-driven strategies.  It is paying off very well for you, our members.

At NATA, we’ve created numerous industry-leading policies including ethics, conflict of interest, equal employment, financial stewardship and most importantly, governance.  Your Board of Directors is made up of volunteer, highly-dedicated and very diverse industry interests.  They come from large and small companies, varying business types and geographically diverse areas so no one can say NATA only represents “X.”  The evidence is quite the contrary.  We represent aviation businesses of all types.  Period.  The value creation by NATA for aviation businesses is extraordinary – please help us get the word out about the importance of a strong industry voice in Washington, statehouses and international capitals.  Your continuing support is enabling our success!

In closing, here’s a question to ponder.  Why are some aviation businesses not members of NATA?  I like to say a trade association is somewhat like an insurance policy in that “you only need it when you really need it.”  Well, for those that support our efforts, the value is clear.  Examples of real value creation are above.  But, we need your help in reaching out to colleagues in the industry who aren’t supporting NATA.  These non-members continue to enjoy the benefits of advocacy that NATA brings because our work is industry-focused.  The question really is: “Are they paying their fair share?”  Is advocacy “someone else’s problem?”  The answer to both questions is clearly “no.”  Our industry collectively owns this vitally important role.  Please help us grow our membership by reaching out to your colleagues and telling them about the value NATA continues to deliver every day to our members.