Economy and politics dominate NBAA show

 - October 27, 2008, 9:05 AM

At the NBAA media breakfast, held last month at the NBAA Convention, Alan Klapmeier, GAMA chairman (and president and CEO of Cirrus), noted that the credit crunch is a problem for the general economy and for some aircraft sales, but said that productivity is the key to turning the economy around. Adding productivity is what business aviation does best, he said. “Education is needed in the general media to dispel the myth that general aviation is a perk. And personally, I think we should stop using the term ‘private jets.’ That sounds exclusive. We should be using ‘personal jets’ or ‘business jets.’”

Politics took center stage at the Opening General Session of the convention, when association president and CEO Ed Bolen introduced the nation’s most well known political odd couple, Mary Matalin, Republican advisor, and her outspoken husband, Democrat James Carville.

Continue Lobbying
“You’d better just take care of your industry yourself,” advised Matalin when the two were asked which presidential candidate would be most beneficial for business aviation. “Whoever gets elected is going to spend the first six months trying to figure out what they’re going to do about the last six,” she said. “The notion that all of a sudden all the lobbyists are going to be gone and it’s all going to be reformed is wrong. It shouldn’t be like that anyway, because people want to be represented. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing. You’re going to have a presence on the Hill and that’s where you need to make your pitch. Maintain your studied neutrality.”

Carville added, “Not knowing the interests of your industry, [I think] the candidate who would be most likely to get the fuel prices down would probably be the most beneficial. And until and unless people start paying cash, as opposed to buying everything on credit, the candidate who can unfreeze these credit lines will allow people to start buying more airplanes. Off the top of my head, these are the two things that would help you most: cheap fuel and easy credit.”

Before Matalin and Carville spoke, ICAO president Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez acknowledged business aviation’s important place in the aviation industry, noting that more than 25,000 turbine-powered aircraft are operated by more than 17,000 companies worldwide and praising the International Business Aviation Council’s work with ICAO. He outlined several “challenges” that ICAO and IBAC are confronting. All are well known–safety, security, airspace and access to airports and the environment.

The last topic elicited a few grumbles from the audience when Gonzales stated emphatically, “The impact of aviation on the environment is of vital concern to all of us. The fourth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms that the change is real and that most of the observed global rise in temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to an increase in greenhouse-gas concentration from human activity.” He said that while aircraft today are about 70 percent more fuel efficient than they were 30 years ago and that new models are even more efficient, the problem is growth. “Mid- to long-term projections are for an increase in traffic that would outpace our capacity for bringing down emissions,” he said.

He said ICAO formed a group in 2007 to make recommendations on an aggressive program of action regarding aviation and climate change. These recommendations will be reviewed at a high-level ICAO meeting early next year
in time to be considered by the United Nations’ Framework on Climate Change meeting in December that same year.