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


Not The Answer for Air Traffic Control

March 21, 2016

The following is the full-length response opinion piece by Tom Hendricks’ excerpted by the Denver Post.

The Denver Post’s March 12th editorial, “The remedy for aviation delays,” endorsing a congressional proposal to create a federally chartered air traffic control corporation, is rooted in a number of factual errors that call into question the basis for the Post’s support. In fact, the creation of a federally chartered, not-for-profit air traffic control corporation will erode aviation system safety, stifle the deployment of new technologies and saddle the traveling public with ever increasing travel costs.

The Post’s first factual misstatement centers on the corporation’s governance. Federally chartering an air traffic control corporation, the Post implies, means the U.S. government somehow supervises it. While such corporations are required to provide annual independent audits and reports to Congress, controversies surrounding such corporations often come down to issues of managerial accountability and fiduciary responsibility. The Post itself noted the record of another such corporation, the Post Office. But other examples include Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Red Cross and the Smithsonian. It is notable that each of these federally chartered institutions have required in their history some form of government intervention.

Next, the Post implies the corporation would be overseen by the government. Wrong. The corporation would be controlled by a 13-member board of aviation insiders. In fact, one indisputable fact at the legislative hearing on the proposal – the nation’s airlines would have effective control of the board.

The Post also buys into an argument put forward by many of the principal supporters of this proposal, largely academics and economists, about the level of modernization of the air traffic control system. These experts sorely lack the necessary operational experience and expertise required to develop a fully integrated perspective of the “puts and takes” critical to ensuring a balanced approach to safeguarding the unprecedented level of safety performance that is the hallmark of the U.S. air traffic control system.

Among other things, this lack of real world depth of experience blithely leads to simplistic pronouncements such as “a blip is just a blip” when referring to aircraft displayed on air traffic control systems and similarly, that the U.S. is “using World War II technology” as the foundation for our air traffic control system. These views are simplistic, uninformed and clearly point to an academic, not operational view of reality.

The incredibly robust U.S. air traffic control system is modern, highly-integrated and provides for an extremely high level of continuity in the face of disruptive meteorological and technological challenges. This system was designed with the predominant users of the system in mind – major airlines. One must only visit state-of-the-art FAA facilities like the Atlanta Terminal Radar Approach Control Facility, the FAA Command Center in Warrenton, Virginia, the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center in New Jersey and others to realize that these extremely robust and modern facilities leave “World War II” technology in the dust. These facilities, along with the Enroute Automation Modernization-equipped high altitude enroute air traffic control centers, are already fusing multiple sensor sources, including radar, Global Positioning System inputs and other sources into these highly-integrated systems.

We understand the idea of creating an air traffic control corporation is appealing to many, including the Post, as a way to address budgetary stability at the FAA. But doesn’t the Department of Defense deserve a little budgetary stability? What about federal law enforcement or programs to assist the poor with their heating bills, could they use a little budget stability? The FAA isn’t the only part of the federal budget that needs relief from political in-fighting over the budget.

Air traffic control is a monopoly and the governance of this proposed corporation is already precooked in the proposal endorsed by the Post to pick its winners and losers, leaving the consumer and general aviation largely on the outside looking in.


NATA’s New Aviation Business Conference – An Event For All Members

March 11, 2015

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NATA’s New Aviation Business Conference – An Event For All Members
LOCK IN YOUR EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION SAVINGS TODAY!

In June, NATA will host the inaugural Aviation Business Conference in Washington, D.C. This new conference combines the best of our previous Aviation Business & Legislative Conference and Air Charter Summit into one industry-wide event. The Aviation Business Conference provides important perspective, advice, access and information that directly benefit your businesses, including insights from key industry and government policymakers. A key feature of this event enables NATA members from each industry segment an opportunity to connect with one another and with their elected representatives on Capitol Hill.

The action-packed agenda includes sessions on the aviation business outlook, emergency response, social media and NextGen as well as sessions delivering information on the latest regulatory issues before the TSA and FAA. The conference also includes the popular Industry Excellence Awards Presentation Luncheon – an event to celebrate the best and brightest in the general aviation industry.

The conference kicks off with a panel of CEOs from general aviation’s leading associations, immediately followed by a Congressional Fly-In session at the U.S. Capitol. The aviation industry CEOs will share their insights on the current legislative and regulatory environment in Washington and set the stage for a successful Fly-In session with leading lawmakers. We are very excited to offer this rare look into NATA’s and Congress’ efforts on behalf of our industry.

In addition, the NATA Aviation Business Conference provides another unique opportunity to connect directly in a less formal atmosphere with your Members of Congress at the Congressional Reception on Tuesday evening at the U.S. Capitol. NATA represents the interests of our members on Capitol Hill every day but, in order to heighten our impact, we need your help to put a face to our industry. Visiting with your representatives helps demonstrate the vital importance of your business to your community as well as to the nation’s economy.

Finally, please take a few minutes to take advantage of our very attractive early bird registration rate. This will only be available for a short time; so please register to attend before this offer expires. We greatly value your support in helping make your voices heard in Washington.

Please Click to add the NATA Aviation Business Conference to your calendar.

Best Regards,

Tom


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.


NATA Shifts Focus to Charter Industry

May 16, 2013

It’s been a busy spring at NATA! We just wrapped up our Aviation Business and Legislative Conference and are working hard to ensure the upcoming Air Charter Summit is an informative and exciting event. This year the Air Charter Summit is June 17-19 at the Marriott Dulles near Dulles International Airport. The on-demand air charter operators are a significant part of the NATA membership; and, due to their status as commercial air carriers, it seems there is always something new affecting them on the regulatory front. The daily impact Washington has on these businesses is precisely why the Air Charter Summit is one of NATA’s most popular annual events. As you read this edition of the Aviation Business Journal, you’ll learn about the issues critical to our air charter members and the initiatives NATA is pursuing to address the needs of this segment of our membership.

Ask most air charter operators about their biggest concerns and the impact of the IRS’ actions to collect commercial transportation excise taxes on amounts paid by aircraft owners for management services is bound to come up. Over the last few months, NATA staff has led a strong effort to help IRS officials better understand the complexities and differences with respect to aircraft management practices and how the term “possession, command and control” actually applies when an aircraft owner uses contract management services. I want to thank and recognize Marian Epps with Epps Aviation and Nel Stubbs with Conklin & deDecker for their invaluable participation in this effort. We’ve made significant progress over the last few weeks and believe IRS officials recognize the need for clear and precise guidance with respect to how commercial taxes apply in this area. We will continue to collaborate with the IRS toward creating new guidance that will address our industry’s concerns. While the publication of new guidance is a critical need, the on-going audit efforts by the IRS to collect these taxes retroactively are also an immediate concern for many operators. Our staff is asking IRS officials not to collect these taxes retroactively because of the need for clarity in the guidelines. We are also requesting the agency stay or delay audits where aircraft management costs are at issue, until such time that new guidance is developed. We will give a comprehensive update on this issue at the Air Charter Summit.

Finally, as we approach Memorial Day our thoughts rightly focus on the sacrifices made by the members our military forces. Given the unique aspects of NATA members’ businesses, they are in a position to offer aid and support to those who have sacrificed so much in support of our freedoms. At the 2013 Air Charter Summit, and throughout the year, NATA is continuing its support of the Veteran’s Airlift Command (VAC). This incredible organization coordinates free travel on private aircraft for our wounded warriors. To make a donation, visit http://www.nata.aero and follow the VAC link on our homepage. Also, as we did last year, NATA is sponsoring a charity raffle at the Air Charter Summit to support the VAC. I hope that all Air Charter Summit attendees will participate to support this very special program. See you there!

Article originally appeared in Aviation Business Journal.


An Event For All Members

April 11, 2013

In less than two weeks, NATA will host its first Aviation Business & Legislative Conference in the Washington, D.C. area. This event is a rebrand and refocus of our FBO Leadership Conference that was held in previous years. The Aviation Business & Legislative Conference provides value and business and industry advice to all of our members. In addition, it affords our members from each constituency an opportunity to connect with one another.

We are looking forward to a full schedule of events that week in addition to the conference programming, including sessions on the business aviation outlook, generational leadership, disaster recovery and assistance and new healthcare laws as well as sessions providing information on the latest regulatory and legislative issues from the TSA, FAA and key senior Capitol Hill staff. Also included with the conference are the Industry Excellence Awards Dinner on Monday night and the Congressional Reception on Tuesday evening.

One of the most important aspects of this event is the unique opportunity to connect directly with your Members of Congress at the Congressional Reception on Tuesday evening at the US Capitol. NATA represents the interests of our members on Capitol Hill every day but, in order to heighten our impact, we need your help to put a face to the industry. Visiting with your representatives helps demonstrate the vital importance of your business to your community as well as to the Nation’s economy.

In addition, NATA will hold its Spring Committee Meetings on Wednesday following the conference. This is another important opportunity for our members to assist NATA in shaping the future of our association and to help bring important issues to the forefront of our agenda. Our committee members have always played a fundamental role in developing and testing products and training programs, setting the legislative and regulatory agenda, and providing benchmarks and support for other members. We look forward to seeing our committee members and, as always, our members are invited to attend the committee meetings as guests.

If you have not already done so, please register to attend. We appreciate your support and help in making your voice heard in Washington.


Aircraft Flight Coordinator Training Off To A Fast Start

March 5, 2013

NATA’s Safety 1st Aircraft Flight Coordinator Training (AFCT) program is receiving praise from the industry and I want to make sure to recognize the hard-working professionals that were instrumental in the development and testing of this cutting-edge online program.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to Suran Wijayawardana of ACP Jets, Damon Danneker of JetFlite International, Terri Farish of Chantilly Air and Eric Lugger of Landmark Aviation, several of whom serve on NATA’s Air Charter Committee. Their dedication and expertise helped ensure the top-rate training being applauded by the industry today. Just this week at the ACSF Symposium, attendees shared with me that the AFCT program is easy to administer, is the most comprehensive tool for flight schedulers and is highly recommended for anyone looking to formalize their flight scheduler training.

NATA is proud of our online programs and we’re pleased with the  many loyal members involved in the development process from start-to-finish as well as those who assist NATA in keeping our training continuously up-to-date.

For those who are not yet familiar with the AFCT program, it is created for all individuals that participate in flight planning and release processes. The goal of the program is to make flight planning professionals well versed in their areas of responsibilities, and an integral part of their flight planning team. We encourage all of our members to learn more about the program through this link.