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Study: Business Aviation Good For Private-Sector, Government Alike

June 11, 2012

NBAA Flight Plan podcast interview with NEXA's Michael Dyment

Governments using business aviation can derive the same types of benefits and efficiencies as private-sector enterprises do, according to a study just released by NEXA Advisors, LLC.

The study was commissioned as part of the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign, which educates policymakers and opinion leaders about the value of business aviation to citizens, companies and communities across the U.S. Working in conjunction with the National Association of State Aviation Operators (NASAO), NEXA President and Founder Michael Dyment said his study shows the use of general aviation assets by local, state and federal governments provides a wealth of benefits.

“Governmental agencies and departments use consistent methods to determine whether investment in aviation is a good thing. They use a framework to describe taxpayer value. The criteria are different, but they all reflect thoughtful and measured consideration,” Dyment said.

“We found many state agencies and departments, and even some counties with large territories to cover, having the ability to execute public health mandates much more efficiently with aviation. In many cases, there was no other way to accomplish the mission without aircraft,” he added.

The study found a total of 196 agencies nationwide operating a fleet of 2,002 aircraft (including jets, turboprops, helicopters and large piston aircraft). The vast majority of those aircraft – 1,337 – were operated by the federal government. The most common use involved transportation of key government officials, such as the president, members of Congress, governors and state employees, on special missions. On a state and local level, the study found government aircraft were crucial in the timely movement of state officials to areas not served by the airlines.

Other uses include: The transport of foreign dignitaries, third-party emergency responders, medical personnel and patients, economic development teams and scientists. The U.S. Marshals moved 356,603 prisoners in 2010 – 60 percent of them by air. Texas also uses air transportation to facilitate the movement of prison inmates.

“Military and civilian law enforcement agencies use aircraft to shuttle their prisoners between different jurisdictions at a fraction of what commercial sources would charge,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Marshal Service said in the report.

Federal and state governments make extensive use of aircraft in law enforcement and to support emergency preparedness. Aircraft have proven essential in combating forest fires. Planes and helicopters patrol the U.S. border with Mexico; provide surveillance and counterterrorism platforms; and transport cargo, parts and mail, according to the NEXA report.

In fact, the study found the use of aviation actually saves taxpayer dollars.

“The most recurring taxpayer value measure, but far from the largest in aggregate, is the budget savings for travel, given that aircraft use often leads to far fewer hotel stays, lower cost for car rentals, fewer restaurant meals, and reductions in related business travel expenses. Tax dollar efficiency is a measure of how effectively the public budget is managed and the ability to maximize the value of each dollar spent. Government aircraft have been cited as key contributors to economic development, for example, bringing project developers together with key policy makers to locations where the economic development initiative will form,” the study said.

The NEXA report concludes that a majority of governors in the U.S. have officially recognized the value of business aviation with proclamations to that effect.

Government Use of Aircraft: A Taxpayer Value Perspective (2.1 MB, PDF)