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At NBAA Regional Forum, Bolen Urges Industry Vigilance and Advocacy

March 24, 2017

As the business aviation community increasingly finds itself once again confronted with a looming battle over proposals for privatizing ATC and funding the system with new user fees, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen told attendees at the association’s March 23 Regional Forum at Texas’ Meacham Airport (FTW), to be vigilant, and ready to mobilize on this priority issue for the industry.

At NBAA Regional Forum, Bolen Urges Industry Vigilance and Advocacy

“We are once again fighting a battle that we’ve been fighting on and off for 20 years, and that is an effort that has been pushed by some big airlines to seize control of our air traffic system,” Bolen said. “The airlines want to run the system for their exclusive benefit, and everybody else can just figure it out.”

But, he said, the industry needs to let their representatives in Washington, DC know such a scenario would be unacceptable.

“We’ve won this at a grassroots level before, because people in our industry have made their voices heard, and that’s what we’re asking everybody to do again,” he said, noting that an annual budget proposal recently released by the White House calls for ATC privatization, and that the White House plan will likely be followed soon by congressional legislation supporting the same concept.

“The public airspace belongs to the public,” Bolen continued. “We need access to airports, and we need access to airspace. That’s why ATC privatization represents a significant threat to our industry. We’re going to have to find a way to respond, and it begins with everyone getting engaged.”

He urged attendees to use the hashtag #BizAvWorks to tell their stories on social media about what the industry means to the nation’s economy and transportation system. “Tweet about how great it is to be a part of business aviation, how this industry is doing good things for companies and communities in our country,” Bolen said.

Fort Worth City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Dennis Shingleton, who was on hand for the forum’s opening session, agreed that business aviation is an economic driver across the country, and specifically in his area.

“We have a long history of aviation heritage here in Fort Worth, and we are delighted to continue that, both on the economic side of that history, and certainly on the operational side of that history,” he said.

Regional Forum

The Fort Worth Regional Forum, NBAA’s second this year, was held for the first time at American Aero FTW. In addition to more than 1,700 attendees, the event drew 148 exhibitors and featured 27 aircraft on static display.

Attendees and exhibitors agreed the forum was productive.

“I’m impressed – it was much larger than I expected,” said first-time attendee John Foster, chief pilot for Home State Insurance Group in Waco, TX. “I can talk directly to the vendors that I work with and get my questions answered. The value is great.”

First-time exhibitor Shelby Brown, sales and marketing director with Aerosmith Aviation in Longview, TX, agreed on the value of the regional forum.

“It was really busy, we had a lot of traffic here,” she said. “We’ve made a lot of great contacts. We’ve gotten to speak with a lot of our vendors.”

Education also is an important part of NBAA Regional Forums, and on the agenda for the March 23 event were the following sessions:

  • Fundamentals of Aircraft Leasing Structures, by Ty Little of Carriere & Little
  • Strategies to Validate Your Safety Products, by Sonnie Bates of Baldwin Safety & Compliance
  • Connect Up With CAMs, by James Buchanan of AT&T
  • Human Resources Best Practices for Business Aviation, by Gregory Ripple of Miller Johnson
  • Student Program on Business Aviation Career Opportunities, by the Love Field Pilots Association and the North Texas Business Aviation Association

NBAA’s final Regional Forum of 2017 takes place Sept. 7 at Morristown Airport (MMU) in Morristown, NJ. Learn more about the Morristown Regional Forum.