The Bizav Perspective

One on one with NBAA president Ed Bolen

Bolen: We’re all disappointed. It was last fall that the President called on the DOT to assemble an ad hoc team to get ideas on what could be done. We participated in that. That group came up with something like 77 ideas that could quickly be implemented and could yield some capacity gains. It’s disappointing to see a lot of those things have not been done. Instead they’ve kind of fallen into this situation which, as you point out, nobody is very happy about.

AB: NBAA’s website makes a strong case that business aviation isn’t part of the problem.

Bolen: It’s not just our finding; that’s what the DOT has found; the [working committee] looked at it. When you look at general aviation being 1.5 to 2 percent of the operations, clearly we’re not the cause of delays. And when you look at operations in the New York area and you see that commercial flights are going up by 14 percent and GA operations are going down by 9 percent, any effort to try to link general aviation to congestion or delays at those three major airports doesn’t hold water.

AB: What’s your take on the issue of FAA and inspections, be they maintenance or with Part 135s?

Bolen: The Secretary of Transportation appointed a working group [to review] that issue and they hopefully will release their report soon. Clearly, everybody in industry expects the FAA to set standards; operators to follow standards; and enforcement to be fair and even. It’s troubling when you hear reports that it may not be as even as we would all hope it would be.

To what extent that is going on out there, I think there’s a general feeling in the community that things feel different.

AB: Talk out of Washington lately has general aviation security resurfacing as an issue. Any red flags?

Bolen: It is clear that over the last year to year and a half, the Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security has been voicing concerns about general aviation. We’ve been trying to understand all of those concerns and trying to make sure that we as a community are very proactive in identifying and implementing security ideas. At same time, trying to do those that are sophisticated enough that they improve security but don’t hurt mobility.

AB: On the airport side, Santa Monica continues to be a long-time issue airport for NBAA.

Bolen: A long-time issue airport, yes. The record at Santa Monica shows that they have voiced a number of concerns and tried a number of attempts to try to limit operations there. I don’t think any of them hold a lot of water. If you look at the current injunction, we support what FAA is doing and we strongly agree that Santa Monica doesn’t have the authority or the jurisdiction to adopt these bans. In a lot of ways it’s the same story; they’re trying to put a fresh coat of paint on it. At the end of the day, it’s an airport that has always tried to limit, restrict, or ban jet operations.

AB: The Static Display is a popular component of the annual NBAA Convention. Logistically, it presents more challenges as the show grows. Do you see a time when you’ll have fixed assets at airports to continue to host the Static?

Bolen: We’ll keep trying to find ways to both provide a strong static display that exhibits the airplanes and the technologies, but does not become limiting in terms of where we go and how we operate.

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