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GA Leaders Unified on Facing Industry Challenges

NBAA GA Panel
GA association leaders at NBAA Tuesday included (L to R) Jim Coyne, NATA; Craig Fuller, AOPA; Pete Bunce, GAMA; Ed Bolen, NBAA; Rod Hightower, EAA; Matt Zuccaro, HAI; and Selena Shilad, AAAA. Larger view

October 12, 2011 – EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower joined six other GA association leaders Tuesday during the NBAA2011 convention in Las Vegas for a panel discussion about several challenges facing the industry. Among them include the recurring user fees threat, potential harm to the GPS system by LightSquared’s proposed broadband communications network, and the search for a safe and viable unleaded aviation fuel for the future.

“When you’re under enormous pressure, you find out pretty quickly what’s at your core,” said NBAA President/CEO Ed Bolen, who moderated the event. “We’ve found that at the core of general aviation, there are a lot of deeply passionate people willing to come together in a unified way.”

Also appearing on the panel were AOPA President/CEO Craig Fuller; Selena Shilad, executive director of the Alliance for Aviation Across America; GAMA President/CEO Pete Bunce; Matt Zuccaro, president of the Helicopter Association International; and Jim Coyne, president/CEO of the National Air Transportation Association.

In addressing the aviation fuel challenge, Coyne thanked the other associations for supporting avgas suppliers in the California legal challenge. To be successful on all these issues “from the many in aviation, we have to create one voice,” he said.

Hightower stressed the importance of working with the FAA to develop an unleaded solution that’s both “safe and economically viable for our communities to continue to rely on.” Zuccaro addressed the legal threat to avgas suppliers in California as well as proposed federal legislation that could shut down urban airspace to helicopters based on unverified noise complaints. “Be careful of this going over into the fixed wing community,” he warned.

Fuller described the frustration pilots are experiencing having to fight another user fees proposal when it’s been fought back successfully several times already. Shilad said that the AAAA provides a platform for those outside regular aviation channels to become advocates, noting that when the latest $100 user fee was proposed, mayors from 44 different states wrote to the White House to oppose it.

Bunce talked about the LightSquared situation as well as the Obama administration’s reversal on bonus depreciation for GA aircraft. “Why single out our industry? It just doesn’t make sense, especially if you want to create jobs and double exports,” he said.

Jim Coyne, president and CEO of the National Air Transportation Association, thanked the other associations for supporting avgas suppliers in the legal challenge, saying that to be successful on all these issues, “from the many in aviation, we have to create one voice.”

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