Hosted by NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen, the Second Day General Session here at NBAA 2013 brought together top executives from business and general aviation’s leading advocacy groups to discuss how to advance the needs of private aviation in a time of political gridlock and fiscal constraints.
“This industry is enormously heavily regulated by the federal government,” Bolen told attendees, “so the shutdown has a disproportionate impact on this industry.”
Panelists included Paula Derks, CEO of the AEA; Mark Baker, new president and CEO of AOPA; Jack Pelton, chairman of the EAA; Pete Bunce, president and CEO of GAMA; Matt Zuccaro, president and CEO of HAI; Henry Ogrodzinski, president and CEO of the National Association of State Aviation Officials (Nasao); Tom Hendricks, president and CEO of NATA; and John McKenna, president and CEO of the Recreational Aviation Foundation.
Bunce noted that despite the political polarization in Congress, aviation advocacy groups won unanimous approval in both houses of Congress for a rewrite of Part 23 regulations, aimed at reducing the cost and time required for aircraft certification. “Right now [Congress] is reconciling the language” of the two versions of the bill, Bunce said. He added that passage of the amendments is expected within the next two weeks.
Derks said the shutdown hamstrung certification of many avionics products. “We keep hearing from members that [FAA] inspectors say it will take up to six months to catch up after a 17-day shutdown.”
Ogrodzinski encouraged attendees to join the Alliance for Aviation Across America, a grassroots organization that has succeeded in drawing in a wide spectrum of groups that lobby for support of business aviation before a variety of federal agencies. “The Treasury Department wanted to know what the Alliance’s interest was in business aviation,” Ogrodzinski said. “We told them it’s in the national interest.”