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At NBAA2011, Government, Business Leaders Highlight Business Aviation Value

October 10, 2011

“Every state benefits from general aviation,” Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) told the Attendees gathered for the NBAA2011 Opening General Session this morning. “This industry provides 1.2 million manufacturing and service jobs.”

The senator’s message was delivered by each of the policymakers and businesspeople sharing the stage in Las Vegas this morning with NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen.  Their work – whether it’s creating jobs, considering safety or other policies, growing a multinational company or providing humanitarian relief – would be impossible without business aviation.

Dave Everitt, president of the agricultural and turf division at John Deere & Company, made it clear just how essential business aviation is to his company’s work providing mechanized farm equipment all over the world. Reflecting on his travel schedule last June, Everitt said that he visited India, South Carolina, four cities in China and four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa within one month – and managed to make it home every weekend.

“There’s just no way I could have traveled to that many places in that short of time without the John Deere Aviation Department,” said Everitt. “For me, it’s the closest thing I have to a time machine.”

Critical to Ensuring Safety, Live-Saving Humanitarian Work

One of the most moving testimonials to business aviation came from former Senate Majority Leader, pilot and heart surgeon Dr. Bill Frist, whom Bolen presented with NBAA’s 2011 Al Ueltschi Award for Humanitarian Leadership. “The field of heart transplantation would not have been possible – could not have developed – without the freedom to schedule of business aviation,” said Frist. He further emphasized that none of the humanitarian missions for which he was being honored – to Haiti, Somalia, Bangladesh and many other places – would not have been possible without business aviation.

When Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt took the stage to explain the benefits of a Next Generation (“NextGen”) aviation system, he emphasized that achieving the benefits of the modernization effort depends on operators’ willingness to invest in the necessary equipment and training. “Because the state-of-the-art business aircraft that many of you operate have some of the most sophisticated avionics available, business aviation operators are probably the best equipped to make use of these new procedures,” said Babbitt.

On safety, Babbitt cited the industry’s critical role: “We have the safest aviation system in the world, bar none,” he said. “The business aviation community, and NBAA in particular, plays a very important role in helping us achieve that fantastic safety record and success.”  National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman agreed, citing the number of corporate fatal accidents in the last year: “zero.”

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