Armed with talking points ranging from FAA reauthorization to long-term leases at airports, members of the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) launched an assault on Capitol Hill last month seeking assistance and empathy from their elected members of Congress.
After a previous day of committee meetings and a May 5 breakfast featuring Senate General Aviation Caucus co-chair Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), NATA fanned out to visit offices of their representatives and senators to press for support for changes on various issues.
“You and your industry make sure that our aircraft are fit to fly and we count on you for job creation and economic development,” Johanns said. “It is no wonder that we had such a remarkable response to our request to other members to join us in the General Aviation Caucus.”
In addition to explaining NATA’s and the industry’s positions on issues deemed important to aviation businesses, the Day on the Hill puts a face on general aviation businesses.
“Participation in the Day on the Hill has been rewarding personally and professionally, and is an easy way to get in front of your congressional representatives and senators,” said NATA member Ted Hamilton of Landmark Aviation. “The NATA staff gives you the tools and sets up the appointments; you just need to deliver the message and let your representative put a face on general aviation.”
Chief among the critical issues that NATA members put before the lawmakers were the need to get FAA reauthorization legislation passed expeditiously; support for the Freedom from Government Competition Act; and Part 135 flight, duty and rest regulations. For representatives and senators who are not members of the House and Senate general aviation caucuses, NATA members urged them to join.
“These meetings are simply invaluable when it comes to the message our members can make with their congressional representatives on important issues facing our industry,” said NATA president James Coyne. “As I do every year, I challenge our members to continue communications throughout the year to develop a firm relationship with their representatives and thus a solid foundation for our industry.”
NATA reminded members that visiting the members of Congress and their staff provides an excellent opportunity to invite lawmakers to tour the NATA member’s facility in the legislator’s state or district.
Accompanying a Cessna Aircraft representative to a visit to the office of Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Coyne revealed that NATA is mulling an event at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to familiarize Capitol Hill staffers with the many facets of general aviation and aviation businesses.
Earlier, Johanns told the group that last year the Senate passed an FAA reauthorization bill with overwhelming bipartisan support, “but as you know, we’re not at the finish line yet. We in the Senate are ready and anxious to get that done, and my hope is that we will and we’ll see the end to that debate.” –P.L.