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NBAA Chairman Says Mood of NBAA2010 'Upbeat'
Atlanta, GA, October 19, 2010
Pat Cunningham, chairman of the NBAA Board of Directors, says the mood of those convening in Atlanta for the Association's 63rd Annual Meeting & Convention (NBAA2010) this week is "upbeat." Acknowledging that no one is expecting a rapid recovery from current economic conditions, he said the recent passage of bonus depreciation is just one of several positive signs for an industry that has faced numerous serious challenges over the past two years.
"At the end of 2008, after the 'Big Three' automakers had flown to Washington, DC, nobody wanted to be identified with business aviation," explained Cunningham. "We were really persona non grata in Washington. The popular perception of business aviation was that it was a 'fat cat' tool. We have worked really hard to reverse that misperception."
Thanks to NBAA and the No Plane No Gain advocacy program conducted in collaboration with the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, not only has the general public's perception of business aviation improved, said Cunningham, but more than 30 U.S. senators and 120 congressmen have joined the General Aviation Caucus, something that "would not have been imaginable" two years ago.
During recent turbulent times, Cunningham said the NBAA Board has worked hard to ensure that the Association's five-year strategic action plan drafted in 2006 stays on track. And he credits NBAA's President and CEO Ed Bolen and his staff for executing that plan, which has resulted in some important regulatory victories.
For example, NBAA led the charge against the Transportation Security Administration's original Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP), which sought to apply new requirements to aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds. Because of NBAA's leadership and the willingness of Members to speak up, the revised LASP proposal "will probably be something that's a lot more workable," said Cunningham.
In addition, the pending FAA reauthorization bill does not include user fees. "That was not an easy thing to achieve. Ed Bolen and his staff deserve a lot of credit for that," declared Cunningham.
Cunningham expects business aviation's optimism about a brighter future to be reflected in a good turnout for NBAA2010. "Last year's Convention was much better attended than we thought it would be, based on the state of the economy. This year I think we will see something similar – strong attendance, even though the economy is not strong."
Besides the business opportunities, there are numerous educational offerings at NBAA2010, including pre- and post-Convention seminars like Professional Development Program (PDP) courses. Attendees gain knowledge from these sessions and "are able to bring value back to their flight operation," concluded Cunningham.