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At Major Policy Forum, Bolen Highlights Industry’s Global Economic Importance

March 9, 2012

Volatile aviation fuel prices, the slow pace of economic recovery in the U.S. and elsewhere, and the need to raise awareness about the importance of the aviation industry were among the challenges discussed by a panel of aviation leaders, including NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, at the 37th annual Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Forecast Conference.

“Business aviation has been both a leading indicator and a reflection of the global economy and how it has changed in recent years,” Bolen said in opening remarks during a discussion about “Operating in the Global Economy” on the first day of the event in Washington, DC.

“We are living and participating in a global marketplace,” Bolen said. “As businesses have clearly moved to more international locations, we have seen changes in the types of aircraft, going to the large-cabin, ultra-long-range aircraft needed to reach important emerging markets in places like São Paulo, Beijing and Moscow.”

Bolen explained that access to emerging markets in countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China is increasingly important to business, and, as a result, is also a major focus of NBAA as it looks to share business aviation’s operations and safety know-how internationally, as NBAA will do later this month at the Asia Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE2012).

Co-sponsored by NBAA, the Shanghai Aviation Authority and the Asian Business Aviation Association, ABACE2012 will be held March 27-29, 2012, at the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport at the new Shanghai Hawker Pacific Business Aviation Service Centre.

“Certainly, the government of China recognizes the importance of aviation to the country’s economic growth,” Bolen said. “The Chinese have now put general aviation in their five-year plan. China’s leaders, like those in other governments around the world, recognize that general aviation helps businesses to grow, provides a lifeline to communities and helps people in need.”

Bolen explained that the challenge for China is developing a civil aviation system from the ground up. “There are fewer than 200 business airplanes in China today. But the country is building 12 to 15 airports per year, and working to open up its airspace,” he said.

ABACE2012 will provide opportunities for information exchanges between U.S. aviation officials and their counterparts from China’s Civil Aviation Authority as they develop complementary structures for general and commercial aviation. Bolen noted that the creation of this forum “is an important opportunity for business aviation throughout the region and in China.”

Bolen went on to echo a sentiment expressed by his fellow panelists: the aviation community must continue industry-wide efforts to help public and policymakers understand the value of aviation to their communities.

“I think collectively the story of the importance of general aviation is being told, through efforts like the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign and the Alliance for Aviation Across America,” Bolen said. The No Plane No Gain program, which educates policymakers and opinion leaders about the value of business aviation, is jointly sponsored by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. NBAA is a member of the Alliance for Aviation Across America, a non-partisan coalition that highlights the value of general aviation to communities across the U.S.

Joining Bolen in discussing global issues and opportunities for aviation at the FAA Forecast Conference were: David Bronzeck, president and CEO, Federal Express; Thierry Tosi, vice president and managing director Americas, Rockwell Collins, Inc.; Billy Glover, vice president, environment and aviation policy, Boeing Commercial Airplanes; and Kevin Healy, senior vice president, Campbell-Hill Aviation Group, LLC.