Our recent 2017 Aviation Leadership Conference capped off a successful year of NATA training and member events. As we look ahead to 2018, more good things are on the horizon as your association seeks to expand the reach of its training, events and policymaking presence. This year’s Leadership Conference gave us the opportunity to say goodbye to an old friend, FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta, as he enters the last few months of his tenure. We also heard from Representatives Rick Larsen and Steve Russell as they provided us with an update from the front lines of the seemingly endless battle to prevent what I have dubbed “the airlinization” of our nation’s air traffic control system.
As you well know, aviation is a constantly evolving landscape that we must keep on top of if we are to continue to operate safe and successful businesses. To this end, two popular speakers—CNN’s Matt Lewis and the Teal Group’s Richard Aboulafia—returned to update us on political and industry events from the past year and let us know what we can expect moving forward. Other session topics ranged across the aviation business world with discussions on trends in the MRO market, aviation safety, and business aircraft emissions and sustainable alternative jet fuel.
By far, the panel that most captured the attention of our members centered on a discussion of FBO economics that included pilots, FBOs, airports and fuelers. As you know, the FAA’s role in the oversight of airports and regulation of FBOs is one that has generated significant discussion within the general aviation community. We appreciated AOPA providing their perspective as the industry works to a clear resolution on these issues. NATA does not shy away from controversial issues and I made the decision back in July that we would bring together the key players in a format that allowed for open and candid exchange. As you will see in Ellen Miller’s related article (page 51), the format and panel composition worked out well, and I hope those frank discussions lead to greater understanding and collaborative consensus going forward.
Let me also recognize the generous sponsors who helped make the Leadership Conference such a success including: Air BP, Atlantic Aviation, Aviation Management Consulting Group, Capital Bank, Hill Aircraft, Jet Aviation, Lynx FBO Network, Napa Jet Center, Pentastar Aviation, Ross Aviation, Signature Flight Support, TAC Air and World Fuel Services.
I am pleased to report that 2017 was a solid year financially for the association. The success of our programs and events allowed the association to further build on its strategic reserves. Safety 1st had another year of strong member participation and our new subscription-based program is allowing us to expand the availability of this important training to more companies and more employees than ever. Our insurance partners distributed millions of dollars in good experience returns to the hundreds of member companies that participate in our workers compensation insurance programs. NATA Compliance Services also had a successful 2017, finalizing a Memorandum of Agreement with the TSA that will allow it to continue serving the GA community
through 2021. We are also excited about its launch of CrewID.aero, combining the industry’s flight and ground crew credentials in addition to real time verification of qualifications in conjunction with Safety 1st.
Looking ahead to 2018, if there were one word to describe what we have planned I would say—“more.” We are building on our successful inaugural series of NATA Industry Town Hall meetings with eight more planned all over the country. I hope you will come out and join us. These meetings have been invaluable for us to learn the issues uppermost in our members’ minds, in one instance providing us the intelligence we needed to quickly address a certification issue at the FAA.
More exciting new products and services will be coming to you in 2018 and I commend to you Tim Obitts’ related column that discusses how NATA develops its products and services. I also hope you will review Bill Deere’s article on our Washington, DC, activities in 2017 and what you can expect in 2018 as lawmakers must stand before their constituents again in what are already being called pivotal mid-term congressional elections.
Finally, let me thank you again for your support and assistance in 2017. Our members are our strength, and without your support and professional expertise NATA could not be such a success. I hope you and your families all have a happy and safe holiday season.
Republished from the Q4 Aviation Business Journal.