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NBAA’s Steve Brown Speaks on Behalf of Business Aviation at RTCA Symposium

June 6, 2014

NBAA Chief Operating Officer Steve Brown participated this week with in a panel of aviation policy leaders at a high-profile industry symposium focused on challenges facing the FAA as the agency seeks to continue modernizing the nation’s air transportation system.

The panel – held on June 5, and titled, “View from Policy Leaders: The biggest challenges facing the FAA” – included representatives from international aviation, air traffic controllers, airlines and pilots in addition to Brown speaking on behalf of business aviation. It was the final panel session of the RTCA 2014 Global Aviation Symposium in Washington, DC.

Brown, who served as a top official with the FAA, including as vice president of operations planning and associate administrator for air traffic services, prior to joining NBAA, brought the perspectives of business aviation to the summary discussion of the two-day gathering.

Asked for an overview having served both with industry and the FAA, Brown said, “From the external as well as internal perspective, I have to say, the FAA generally does a good job of consulting with industry and seeking input, but then it will suddenly get amnesia and forget to consult with us. The two most-recent examples are on the sleep apnea issue and the contract tower closures.”

Brown emphasized that NBAA members fully support the FAA’s priorities for NextGen, and have actively participated in efforts to maintain momentum for this vital issue, especially in times of fiscal constraint, through NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen’s participation in such groups as the board of directors of RTCA, and the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC).

Like others on the panel, Brown agreed that the FAA must have adequate, stable funding for the long term to continue NextGen modernization and tackle the internal issues that the industry views as significant hurdles to the nation’s continued global leadership.

Streamlining and accelerating FAA processes for certification and regulation, and maintaining safety leadership were hands-down industry priorities, members of the panel agreed. Differences appear in discussing how to get the funding need for the FAA, as reauthorization will come up in the next session of Congress in 2015.

“From our perspective, the idea of changing the system to direct user fees simply will not work for general aviation,” Brown said.

The general aviation community is fully supportive of modernization of the air transportation system, Brown added, saying: “We are willing to pay our fair share. But we believe the best way for us to do that is through the fuel tax. A Sky-R-S is not the way to go. We have the best and most diverse aviation system in the world and we want it to stay that way.”

Brown agreed with several other panelists in calling on the entire aviation industry to, as he put it, “band together and compromise to advocate for the things we know need to be done.”

Joining Brown on the panel were: moderator Tom Haines, editor-in chief, associate publisher, SVP media, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Ben Alcott, programme director, Enhancing Safety Performance, UK Civil Aviation Authority; Nick Calio, president and CEO, Airlines for America; Craig Fuller, chairman, the Fuller Company; Capt. Lee Moak, president, Air Line Pilots Association and Paul Rinaldi, president, National Air Traffic Controllers Association.