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President’s Perspective

Remaining Focused on Access for Business Aviation

By Ed Bolen

NBAA President and CEO Ed BolenEveryone knows that access to airports and airspace is vital to ensuring the flexibility, mobility and efficiency of business aviation. That’s why this edition of Business Aviation Insider focuses on issues related to access for NBAA Members.

Preserving access has always been a top priority for NBAA, and it has been a particular concern for the Association and industry in the years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Even though the industry voluntarily instituted a host of new security procedures to harden business aviation against terrorist threats, government officials have often implemented rigid protocols that have made it difficult – or sometimes impossible – for business aviation to utilize selected airports and traverse key airspace.

Perhaps the best example is Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). After 9/11, general aviation (GA) was prohibited from using DCA. Believing that effective security policies could be developed that strike a balance between economic realities and individual freedoms, NBAA led the fight to allow business aviation to return to that important airport. Finally, in October 2005, limited G A access to DCA was restored. Nevertheless, NBAA continues to work with government officials to remove the remaining barriers and allow greater access to DCA (see Access Gets Easier to the Nation’s Capital).

Some questioned why the Association devoted substantial resources and effort to regaining use of DCA, but NBAA views restrictions on access to any airport – especially one so critical to U.S. businesses – as a potential precedent-setting threat to access to all airports.

During this presidential election year, access challenges will increase, as a rising number of temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) will be set up to protect candidates for federal office while on campaign travel (see TFRs to Surge as Election Nears; Career Pipelines Deliver the Next Generation of Business Aviation Professionals). NBAA understands how unpredictable and onerous these TFRs can be for business aviation, and we continue working to mitigate their impact while ensuring that an adequate level of security is maintained.

Of course, access is not only a domestic challenge. There are many locations worldwide where NBAA Members are restricted from using airports and airspace. But progress is being made on many fronts. For example, thanks in part to the efforts of NBAA and other business aviation advocates, companies flying to Japan’s Narita Airport, once an arduous process, now can use the new business aviation terminal there, the first such facility at the airport (see Operators Must Be Mindful of Curfews, Landing Permits When Flying to Japan).

NBAA also has seized opportunities during its recent international events – the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition and the Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition – to discuss with regulators and other government officials the importance of business aviation and ways to expedite access to airports in Europe and Asia.

To be sure, there will be more access challenges to come, both in the United States and abroad. NBAA is dedicated to helping Member Companies that encounter access restrictions, and rest assured that the Association will continue to insist upon fair and equitable treatment for our Members when it comes to being able to use all airports and airspace.

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