While proposed legislation calling for 75-year minimum leases did not make it through the U.S. House, Coyne says there is continued hope that Congress, as it moves forward in the reauthorization process for FAA, will include language which emphasizes the importance of long-term leases for airport tenants.
“We don’t want 75-year leases just because we like the number 75,” says Coyne. “We essentially want to ensure that the investors and owners of aviation businesses can go out and arrange for long-term mortgages and raise the capital that’s needed for improving their facilities.”
The National Air Transpor-tation Association continues its work to improve access to Reagan National Airport (DCA). “The DCA proposal they came up with was, as we suspected, totally unrealistic long term,” says Coyne. He expects that near the end of March, NATA will submit to the Transportation Security Adminstration a report on the first six months of the new procedures for access to DCA and how it’s not working, as well as suggestions for reform.
Coyne says the current TSA leadership “understands that in terms of fighting terrorism, general aviation is not the greatest risk, by far. And so they’ve pretty much agreed to put their resources to more productive uses, rather than try to propose draconian rules around the airports.” Coyne adds that commercial aviation continues to suffer from the confusion of airport security, which has been a benefit to general aviation. “But we still have a lot of battles to fight, it’s not over. I think we have a good working relationship with the head of TSA and we hope that we can build on that.”
Charter Safety Management
NATA will introduce its Safety 1st Management System for Air Charter to the industry at the annual convention, according to Coyne. Modeled after the safety management system the airlines adopted some 20 years previous in response to safety concerns, the program is expected to reduce accidents in the charter business by some 50 percent in the next five years.
“I think it’s going to lead to a degree of safety in charter that is two or three times better than what we’ve grown accustomed to in the last ten years,” says Coyne.
Improving the safety record of charter is the “fundamental” way to grow the charter industry in the U.S., Coyne says. “The way to increase the amount of charter activity by several hundred percent is by reducing any public anxiety about charter, and so that’s why we’re so excited about this program because it’s going to really raise the bar on safety and charter across the country.” Management is the key word in the program because safety should be a function of management, says Coyne.
NATA will be hosting a session on user fees, featuring the president of the Air Transport Association, James May.
“We’re very fortunate to have the number one advocate of user fees come before our committee and submit himself to our interrogation and challenge him with the arguments our side has on this debate,” explains Coyne He says NATA is “very interested” in ensuring that funding for modernization of the air traffic control system moves forward, but does not think user fees are the way to go about it. “Maybe we can persuade [May] that for the general aviation community that we represent, fuel taxes are the right way to go.”
Another notable person on the agenda is former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich. Coyne says Gingrich will present his argument that government as a whole needs dramatic reform from top to bottom. “And, obviously for an industry that is as familiar with the inefficiencies of government as ours is — especially federal government,” says Coyne, “we’re really looking forward to his talk.”
The aviation services sector will meet in Orlando in March at the annual NATA convention and Aviation Industry Expo. Here's a look at the key issues on the docket via an interview with NATA...
ORLANDO – The odds that a new FAA reauthorization measure will be signed into law by Sept. 30 are slim.