NATA — Growing and Evolving To Meet Our Members’ Needs

October 3, 2017

As I reach the end of my first year at the helm of NATA, I want to report to you on how I see the state of the association, particularly in the context of my inaugural remarks to you.

Our first and highest responsibility to you is fiduciary. While NATA is a trade association, it is also a business, and for this enterprise to be successful we must operate in a responsible manner. On that front, I am very pleased. As we enter the final quarter of 2017, NATA is in excellent financial shape, a combination of conservative budgeting and the augmentation of member dues with products and services that help you compete in the marketplace.

While our Safety 1st program continues to provide industry-leading ground handling training, we are not resting on our laurels. The NATA Safety Committee and association staff are hard at work on the refresh of Safety 1st, ensuring its enviable status as the gold standard in ground handling training will continue for the foreseeable future. I am proud of our recently concluded, first-ever, Ground Handling Safety Symposium, because it represents what I think is the best of NATA—an association growing and evolving to meet our members’ needs.

The Symposium was developed by our Safety Committee to explore the challenges of ground handling in a collaborative environment, allowing participants to interact with experts and industry colleagues. It wasn’t just about spending a day and a half listening to speakers, the Symposium included open forum discussions led by members of the Committee.

Other members take advantage of our Workers Compensation Insurance Programs, underwritten by industry leaders Allianz and QBE, both featuring a good experience return. In other words, a safe year for plan participants means a rebate, which has been averaging more than 20 percent for our over 800 company participants.

On the Part 135 side, we offer the industry products, including loss of license insurance and access to Known Crewmember® through NATA Compliance Services. Programs like these help our charter operators compete in a very demanding market to attract and retain pilots.

These products are developed in consultation with our members and that requires us to hit the road, making sure our contact with the membership goes beyond the association’s policy committees to include input from members in every region of the country. I made that a priority for 2017, asking my two Executive Vice Presidents, Bill Deere and Tim Obitts to join me on the road. Tim and Bill pursued that with enthusiasm, among other things working with the Air Charter Committee to launch a series of well-received NATA Air Charter and Industry Town Halls. From Portland, OR to Greenville, SC to Chicago, IL to Dallas, TX, we have listened to your concerns and taken the opportunity to share the value proposition of NATA membership. I am particularly proud that our recent success resolving a compliance issue stopping air charter operators from adding Pilatus PC-12 aircraft to their certificates was a direct result of member interaction at an NATA Town Hall.

Our products and services are the “currency” through which we provide advocacy and, believe me, aviation businesses are in the midst of a very challenging year on the advocacy front. NATA, along with other leading general aviation associations, are in a battle with the airlines over the future management of the air traffic control system. To lose this fight—for the airlines to, in essence, take over management of the air traffic control system—I believe would forever change general aviation as we know it in this country. Let me acknowledge the attendees at NATA’s Aviation Business Conference in June, who took time out of their schedules to travel to Capitol Hill and visit with lawmakers, sharing the concerns of the entire aeronautical service provider community.

That is not our only advocacy challenge. We have been confronting an attack on aviation businesses from within the general aviation community itself, an initiative by a national pilot organization to impose economic regulation on FBO pricing. While we will continue to meet rhetoric with fact-based response, I believe this diverts precious time and resources away from the issue on which we should be united—the threat to general aviation posed by the airlines.

If we do not prevail in this struggle, it will likely render moot any further discussions about the pricing of general aviation services.

I don’t want to leave you with the impression that NATA’s advocacy is purely defensive. In fact, I am pleased to report that our member-driven advocacy is also showing positive results, at both the FAA and on Capitol Hill.

All in all, it has been quite a first year for me as your president. I want to thank you for your ongoing support of me and the association. As we move forward together, please know that hearing from you with your concerns and ideas is both important and necessary to the ongoing success of NATA and our industry.

Republished from the 2017 Q3 Aviation Business Journal.


International, Innovation and Investment in NATA

June 20, 2016

Greetings from Washington! With Congress still looking for a path forward on a long-term FAA reauthorization and the ongoing controversy surrounding the House Transportation Committee proposal to split the FAA into public and private organizations, it is as important as ever to remain engaged, informed and active in helping your NATA staff communicate directly and effectively with your nation’s lawmakers. Bill Deere provides the latest information as we go to press in his column. Please help us ensure our voice remains strong and consistent. NATA continues to make progress on several other fronts. Here are a few highlights.

NATA’s international presence continues to grow rapidly and Safety 1st products are leading the way. Tim Obitts, our Senior Vice President of Membership and Business Development and Mike France, NATA’s Managing Director of Safety and Training just recently returned from attending EBACE in Geneva, Switzerland. NATA’s presence and the buzz around our industry-leading Safety 1st training programs are driving greatly increased international interest and adoption. By working with the International Business Aviation Council to roll out the International Standard for Business Aircraft Handling (IS-BAH), NATA’s footprint is now rapidly growing abroad. To help showcase this continued growth, the NATA staff recently created an interactive electronic world map on NATA’s website for members to see where Safety 1st and NATA are expanding (www.fbostatus.com or www.groundhandlerstatus.com). Please take a look and see which of your competitors is taking advantage of this world class training. In addition, we can use member assistance in reaching out to those in the industry that are advertising NATA membership and Safety 1st Training, yet are not currently participating as either NATA members or Safety 1st graduates. This creates a potential competitive disadvantage for those continuing to support the expansion and continued improvement of this clearly top shelf training. Please let us know if you are aware of anyone mistakenly advertising their participation so we can follow up with some outreach to clear up any misunderstandings.

This quarter’s Aviation Business Journal features a very interesting article on JetSuite’s foray into scheduled Part 135 operations in the Western U.S. As the major airlines continue to reduce service to smaller markets and regional airlines struggle to fill cockpit seats, this is creating vacuums and for some, opportunities. NATA members are all very entrepreneurial and agile. This is clearly evident by those that successfully navigated the post financial crisis downturn. Member companies like JetSuite continue to look for opportunities to create their own niche and hopefully, success, in the marketplace. Many industry veterans might view these innovative efforts with some degree of skepticism, but let’s face it, the economy, consumers and the competitive landscape are all evolving and NATA’s members are always looking for new paths to ensure success.

Over these last few years, NATA’s voice in Washington has grown stronger; however, the need to ensure general aviation businesses continue as a stronger voice in Washington is greater than ever. As I often like to say, for some, a strong trade association is like insurance—you only need it when you need it. Fortunately for all of us, leaders from around the world recognize that by unifying business leaders around a common purpose, the industry’s destiny is much more controllable as long as the foundation is built upon an active and engaged membership.

As NATA kicks off the second annual Aviation Business Conference in Washington, please recommit to attending and supporting the unique opportunity this member-driven conference presents. The ability to speak directly with the TSA Administrator or the FAA’s top regulator or key Congressmen and Senators or to network with colleagues to generate new business opportunities are great reasons to attend this event. Take advantage of the convenience meetings such as this provide to foster multiple parts of your businesses’ growth strategy. The Aviation Business Conference is sure to provide many opportunities and attending helps support NATA’s efforts in Washington.

Please lend your support and plan to spend some time with NATA’s staff while attending any of our events. They all do a great job of helping tell the story of aviation businesses growing, innovating and investing in the economy, both here and around the world.

Republished from Q2 2016 Aviation Business Journal