Mr. President, I Respectfully Disagree

Having made my living in the corporate and general aviation workplace most of my life, I believe I have a right to the following opinion. Mr. President, I humbly, but emphatically, disagree with your characterizing the use of business aircraft as “fat cats flying around on their corporate jets.”

Borrowing from NBAA, business aviation employs 1.2 million workers, and contributes more than $150 billion to our GDB each year. Kansas, alone, employs more than 30,000 aerospace workers, generating more than $7 billion to its economy each year.

While many of the country’s industries have been sending jobs overseas, business aviation has been keeping jobs here. And, aren’t jobs the crucial issue of this economy? With an effective unemployment rate of approximately 15 percent, shouldn’t our legislators be providing incentives for employers to grow jobs here? Why remonstrate an industry that has proven to be a job keeper and producer, requiring both skilled and unskilled workers.

As many of you have read, we are currently experiencing unfavorable numbers with our balance of trade, buying more products made cheaply overseas, than those made here. Speculating for a moment, if the political climate for our corporate and general aviation manufacturers continues to be hostile, I, for one, would not be surprised to see these companies begin to ship work overseas.

It is difficult as it is, in the economy, for businesses to succeed, especially small subsidiary manufacturers and service organizations, of which there are hundreds, that are subject to the vagaries of supply and demand and an unfavorable regulatory environment. Think of all the suppliers that support our OEMs. Does this railing against the industry give them cause to stay, much less invest? Instead of pillorying the industry, I suggest the industry’s activities and accomplishments be encouraged and praised as truly American.

Don’t we lead the world in the manufacture of corporate jets? Mr. President, I recommend you support it and find ways to help it grow!

Perhaps the advisors in the administration do not know, understand, or much less, appreciate the economic advantages business jets provide. Not only for the big hitters, but, just as importantly, for the midsized and small industries that dominate our economic landscape.

For instance, take our geography. There are more than 5,000 airports in the U.S., but airlines service only 500. The midsize and small companies that use the other 4,500 rely on business jets and other general aviation aircraft to reach their customers and facilities.

Business and political tool

Mr. President, did you not criss-cross this country nine times during your run for office? I fail to see how you can forsake the benefits of your experience. And, do not many of your fellow politicians use business and general aviation aircraft to regularly travel from their districts and states to D.C.? For instance, I would consider a 757, configured especially to the past speaker’s needs, that went coast to coast on a weekly basis, a business jet. Forgive me, but I did not hear the White House disparage this activity.

Look, I just want to be fair. I’ve been in this business since Convairs, Fairchilds, and DC3s served as corporate aircraft. And, yes, some of these were “golden chariots.” But those days are gone.

Business aircraft are essential tools permitting our industries to compete on a global basis. The continued rise in the importance of this tool has enabled the U.S. to maintain and grow its leadership in the manufacture and support of these weapons of commerce.

A final word, just because the business aircraft industry may appear to cater to the rich and offer itself as low-lying fruit to politicians hungry for a patsy, is no reason to mischaracterize its importance to our economy. Nuff said.

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