PRESIDENT'S PERSPECTIVE

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Looking Ahead

Welcome to a new year – one that, for the general aviation community, brings tremendous challenges and opportunities.

This year, Congress will vote on legislation that outlines funding and operations for the nation's air transportation system for years to come. From this legislative occurrence, a daunting challenge has emerged: the commercial airlines are seeking radical changes that would be ruinous to the GA community, and would put the world's most successful aviation system at great risk.

Simply put, the airlines are proposing to seize control of the aviation system and shift billions of dollars onto companies that use aircraft for business reasons.

Under their scheme, the airlines would replace congressional oversight of aviation system decision making with a privatized "governing" board heavily represented by the carriers. In such a scenario, imagine how the interests of many thousands of business aviation users – from small and mid-sized businesses to educational, religious and non-profit institutions – would fare. Would their needs be taken into account by the airlines? Would attention be given to smaller communities, which often need local and regional airport development to attract and retain businesses and jobs?

It's difficult to believe that the airlines would use their domination of the aviation system to promote the best interests of those who represent the very lifeblood of small businesses and small and rural communities all across America.

As if this weren't enough, the airlines' audacious plan also calls for implementation of user fees for general aviation as a means of shifting $2 billion in airline operating costs onto our community. By some estimates, their proposal would make costs for general aviation skyrocket upwards of 700 percent.

Instead of focusing on winners and losers in the aviation modernization debate, those of us in the business aviation community would like to focus on strengthening the aviation system for all Americans, so that we can truly modernize our air traffic control system, improve safety in the skies and better the efficiency of the industry.

Nevertheless, the airlines remain committed to using all available funding and resources this year to convince members of Congress that the carriers should pay less and control more of the aviation system.

We must rise to this unprecedented challenge by taking unprecedented action, and that's where we have an opportunity. Each of us individually, and collectively as a community, must make certain that our members of Congress know the threat that is facing businesses and local economies, and putting at risk the world's largest, most efficient and safest air transportation system.

NBAA has an online tool to help everyone in business aviation communicate this message with elected officials. This user-friendly resource is called Contact Congress, and the process for using it is quick and easy. I encourage you to make your voice heard on this issue by visiting www.nbaa.org/userfees, or by reading more about Contact Congress in the sidebar below.

CONTACT CONGRESS - CONNECT & BE COUNTED

Help Defeat User Fees for General Aviation: Contact Congress Today

If you use a general aviation aircraft for a business purpose, you are under attack. The commercial airlines are promoting a plan to assume a dominant role in running the air traffic control system and impose $2 billion in new user fees on our industry.

NBAA is fighting the airlines' proposal, but your congressional representatives need to hear directly from you on this matter because they are being flooded with input from the big airlines.

NBAA has developed an online resource for contacting members of Congress, called Contact Congress. NBAA is asking everyone in business aviation to use the resource to voice your opposition to user fees for general aviation with your members of Congress.

How to Fight User Fees

Visit www.nbaa.org/userfees to generate a form that prepares your letter for Congress. After you preview, edit and approve the letter, one click of a button will send it off to Capitol Hill for you.

Connect and be counted by your elected officials in Washington by visiting the Contact Congress web site today. Direct questions to NBAA's Dan Hubbard at (202) 783-9000 or [email protected].