There are many exciting things happening at NATA so let’s jump right in.
NATA Purchases the Independent FBO Association (IFBOA)
As we prepare to celebrate NATA’s 75th birthday in December of this year, our future is bright and getting brighter every day. We all look forward to our next 75 years and the key to our enduring success will always be our membership staying informed, engaged and focused on the future. A key component of that continued success is our recent announcement that NATA purchased the Independent Fixed Base Operators Association (IFBOA). On January 16th, we announced a “strategic relationship” with the IFBOA. This gave both teams the time to work through the details of how the merged organizations would more closely coordinate and in some cases, integrate activities.
It is certainly a reasonable question to ask why NATA and IFBOA made this move. Fundamentally, IFBOA was very successful at building a growing organization that featured some highly attractive products and services for its membership—particularly its Workers’ Compensation Insurance product. Additionally, in conversations with many current and former NATA members, a consistent theme emerged of the perception that independent FBOs, not affiliated with a larger chain, did not feel their voices were being heard by NATA.
Over the last three years, NATA worked deliberately to address these concerns. Specifically, NATA recently teamed with AirSure Limited, whose proven track record at bringing highly desirable insurance products to our industry is unmatched. Next, your NATA board of directors actively recruited independent FBO operators to serve on the board to ensure NATA’s policy decisions strike the right balance across the wide range of our regular members. The purchase of IFBOA culminates a huge effort that is already bringing great benefits to all members. Read more about this move in the article on page 27 in this edition of the Aviation Business Journal. In short:
- Together we are much stronger. Speaking with one unified voice in Washington and elsewhere makes NATA’s advocacy much more effective
- We will retain the IFBOA brand and continue to bring tailored products, services and advocacy to these non-affiliated FBOs
- For 2016, the membership dues structure will be completely aligned with most small businesses (under 11 employees) seeing a dues reduction
- NATA’s board of directors remains committed to a highly diverse representation structure on the NATA board with small, independent FBOs continuing to provide a strong voice on independent business issues
Personally, I feel many in the aviation community are suffering from a bad case of “group think” that pillories both the institution of the FAA and its thousands of highly skilled and dedicated employees. Others continue to draw false comparisons with countries that have modernized from, in some cases, systems with no or very rudimentary forms of aircraft surveillance (i.e. – no radars – and the attendant poor safety records).
All Hands on Deck
It’s an incredibly busy time in Washington and our lobbying staff is fully engaged in ensuring the process of Congress reauthorizing the FAA keeps aviation business interests on their radar screen. Bill Deere, our Senior Vice President for Government and External Affairs, is leading the effort to ensure the House and the Senate fully understand the vital role that general aviation businesses play in their states, districts and local communities. Please be prepared to provide your personal support in reaching out to the key decision-makers as this process unfolds. These opportunities (and risks) come around about every 3-5 years and delivering a focused message to your elected representatives is key to ensuring we achieve the best possible outcomes.
The Value of NATA Membership
Aviation businesses join and retain their memberships in NATA for a host of reasons. Many of our members possess an understanding that no other organization in Washington is solely dedicated to “protecting and championing” the interests of aviation businesses in Washington. Others rely on our “gold standard” Safety 1st training products to ensure their businesses are achieving the highest levels of aviation safety available anywhere. And still others join or retain their membership for one of our other products and services like the NATA Workers’ Compensation Insurance Program or IFBOA’s much-heralded Workers’ Compensation Insurance Program. New programs like NATA Aviation Solutions, our new deeply discounted NATA membership shipping program with PartnerShip® and the Safety 1st Digital Emergency Response System continue to deliver value across a wide spectrum of member needs. Whatever the reasons are for choosing to join NATA, we will continue to adapt to our membership’s desires as our industry and members’ needs evolve. If you’ve got some new ideas, please call or email us with ways we can better serve you.
Our two most recent conferences are great examples of this needed adaptability. In June, we conducted a highly successful Aviation Business Conference in Washington. According to the feedback from those that attended, this was one of the most highly successful and relevant NATA conferences ever conducted. And the just completed Aviation Business Roundtable, with it’s strategic, policy-level focus for senior executives delivered great insights into key political, economic and strategic topics that will uniquely guide key decisions for senior business leaders in the coming months.
In closing, the entire NATA staff is committed to the belief that as your operating environments and businesses change in the coming years, your trade association must remain agile and adaptable to meet those needs into the future. As always, the key to our success is remaining focused on our members; thus, being engaged, communicating with our staff and letting us know when you see turbulence ahead is something that I ask all of our members to continue to be resolute about. This is your trade association and we continue to be on course and climbing!