Industry leaders attending the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) State of the Industry event yesterday agreed that the business aviation market is entering 2019 with a stronger footing, but also conceded that the partial government shutdown that ushered in with the New Year will take months to resolve. “This has been an interesting start of the year,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce.
He has previously pointed to the work slowed during the shutdown, particularly on the certification front, and has detailed that the restart will require manufacturers to readjust schedules to get back into an already full queue for FAA resources. But yesterday he also credited FAA senior leadership for providing as many resources as possible, as the law permitted, during the shutdown to coordinate on workflow.
Bunce further noted that the shutdown underscored the importance of organization delegation authorization (ODA). Over the past decade, GAMA has been pushing for greater use of ODA to make certification processes more efficient. Without it, “We would have been dead in the water” during the shutdown, he said. “That doesn’t mean it wasn’t painful,” but under the partnership with FAA and with programs such as ODA, “we were able to work our way through.”
Gulfstream president and GAMA chairman Mark Burns, who presented the 2018 industry results at yesterday's event, agreed that ODA was “invaluable,” but acknowledged the shutdown did backlog projects. Gulfstream parent General Dynamics had reported last month that the shutdown pushed certification of the company’s ultra-long-range G600 into the second quarter.
Burns noted that there were a number of lessons learned that the industry is working out with the FAA. “We need to capture the lessons learned,” agreed Bunce, pointing out one area that was spotlighted was just how much paperwork the FAA is involved in. This is an area that can be examined to see ways to ease that involvement.
David Paddock, senior v-p for U.S. regional operations for Jet Aviation, also detailed some realignments that were necessary on the training front in his operations. While Jet Aviation also managed through, he said the problems created from the shutdown would have been far more significant if it lasted for even another few weeks.