ALEXANDRIA, VA — The National Air Transportation Association's (NATA) 2009 Air Charter Summit and FBO Leadership Conference delivered hard-hitting information, expert guidance, and insightful answers focused exclusively for on-demand charter and FBO audiences this week. Positive attitude, up-ticks in business, and a sense of aviation community were underlying themes of both events.
Participants heard directly from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration leadership about current initiatives such as the large aircraft security program, badging, safety management system implementation, Part 135/125 Aviation Rulemaking Committee, employee screening, and noise restrictions.
The increasing frequency of criminalization of aircraft accidents, who can be held responsible in the event of litigation and how to respond were fodder for one of the sessions. This was followed by a lively discussion led by FAA representatives and aviation attorneys on the different views of enforcement actions and how consistently the policies are followed. Tuesday evening ended with a toe-tapping and table-slapping performance by the Capitol Steps.
Attendees received inspiration and encouraging insight during Wednesday's program. George Mason University's Head Basketball Coach Jim Larranaga delivered a riveting breakfast presentation about his winning formula of attitude, commitment and class that resonated throughout the rest of the sessions.
John Rosanvallon, president and CEO of Dassault Falcon Jet, Peter Bunce, president and CEO of General Aviation Manufacturers Association and Joe Lombardo, president of Gulfstream Aerospace, later provided some promising insight on the current state and future prospects of general aviation manufacturing. Lombardo reported that Gulfstream Aerospace is experiencing initial signs of stabilization, they continue to be committed to new technology and product development, and they are encouraged by the extraordinary collaboration within the industry. Rosanvallon mentioned Dassault Falcon Jet's recent improvement in business, current focus on new aircraft models and efficiency, and a modest loss of employees with no current forecast for further layoffs for the rest of 2009.
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association President Craig Fuller briefed the participants on the "General Aviation Serves America" campaign. Fuller also participated on a panel about working with the mainstream media to rebut public outrage over the perceived misuse of business aircraft.
One suggestion from this session is to pitch positive economic recovery and job creation stories to the local press as a method to counter these negative public perceptions. Fuller explained that the General Aviation Serves America campaign was designed to be a vehicle for these messages to reach the public and political audiences at-large.
Brian Grubb from the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center captivated and engaged an audience of FBO leaders and challenged them to do the same to their customers by anticipating their unexpressed wishes and going beyond the expected. The Ritz-Carlton training model of always reaching for the gold, striving for more than just satisfying a customer's needs and fostering team spirit in an effort to improve constantly is key to what can only be described as "legendary service."
"NATA's Air Charter Summit and FBO Leadership Conference provided unparalleled venues for Part 135 and FBO members to learn about current legislative and regulatory issues directly from government leaders, generate new ideas to reinvent and recharge their businesses, and discover methods to reinvigorate positive public perception of our noble industry," said NATA President James K. Coyne. "We were especially pleased and encouraged by the attendees' enthusiasm in this challenging year.
"We were also thrilled to have the opportunity to bestow NATA Industry Excellence Awards on several of business aviation's finest visionaries, including Dick Van Gemert and Jim Ballough."