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Advocacy for Business Aviation Took Center Stage in 2013
Dec. 23, 2013
Business aviation was affected by a number of governmental issues in 2013 – among the most notable was the federal government shutdown in October that led to the closure of the FAA’s Aircraft Registry.
“This is impacting people’s daily lives,” aircraft broker Robin Eissler said during the shutdown. Her company, Jet Quest, is located in Georgetown, TX, where she said more than a dozen brokers were suddenly forced to scramble when the registry shutdown stopped cold the sale of all aircraft. More than 150 airplanes and helicopters were being transacted at the time. Eissler said many smaller operations faced fiscal extinction because of the shutdown.
That spurred NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen to issue a Call to Action, asking NBAA Members to use the Contact Congress tool on the NBAA website to make their feelings about the shutdown known to their lawmakers.
The shutdown ended after 17 days, but not without a cost to business aviation: a report issued in November by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) indicates the delay in delivery of aircraft caused by the shutdown held up $1.9 billion worth of aviation assets.
User Fees Pushed Back
For at least the third consecutive year, aviation advocates within Congress beat back an Obama administration attempt to enact a user-fee system. The proposed $100/flight fee included in the President’s annual fiscal spending proposal was the subject of a bipartisan backlash.
“The chair and ranking Democrat from the Aviation Subcommittee in the House teamed with the Republican and Democratic co-chairs of the General Aviation Caucus to circulate a letter among their colleagues expressing their strong opposition to the $100-per flight user fee,” said NBAA Senior Vice President for Legislative Affairs Lisa Piccione.
Pilot’s Bill of Rights
Advocates of the “Pilot’s Bill of Rights” applauded passage of that measure in late summer, 2013. But almost immediately, they promised to go back to work to expand and improve the measure.
The legislation lays out in federal code the rights of flight crews under investigation by the FAA or NTSB. Those rights include access to all FAA and FAA contractor data used by the agency to build an enforcement case against them, as well as the right of crew members to decline requests for information from FAA inspectors.
“Pilots are now afforded a Miranda-like warning,” said attorney Alan Farkas at Smith Amundsen Aerospace in Chicago. “They’re under no obligation to communicate with FAA during an investigation.”
Farkas said he and members of Congress have already identified areas where the bill can be improved.
“For instance, there are areas that are not being implemented as intended,” he said. They include the language enabling pilots to appeal FAA enforcement decisions in federal court. That language leaves open to interpretation whether the US District Courts hear a full courtroom appeal or simply review the paperwork generated by an FAA enforcement case, he explained.
Also during 2013, the FAA published final notice on the procedures related to limiting aircraft data display by the Aircraft Situation Display to Industry (ASDI) program.
“What’s old is new again,” said NBAA Director of Air Traffic Services and Infrastructure Bob Lamond. “What was the NBAA BARR is pretty much what you’ll see under the new FAA ASDI Block program. The only real difference is the FAA now administers the program, not NBAA.”