Washington, DC, August 14, 2013 – As congressional leaders are spending time in their home states during an annual “recess,” their schedules are often filled with sessions for hearing directly from constituents, including those in the aviation community – and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) representatives have made it a point to be a part of those and other grassroots advocacy events.
For example, at an Aug. 13 “roundtable” held in Sioux Falls, SD, Dick Doubrava, NBAA director of legislative affairs, joined Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and other industry stakeholders to discuss the vital economic importance of all general aviation (GA), including business aviation, to the Mount Rushmore State.
“It is always nice to listen to the perspectives of those directly involved in the issues,” Thune said. “Hearing from them further reinforces that general aviation and community airports are a great resource to South Dakota and to the country, providing business opportunities and protecting public safety. With my work on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, I look forward to a continued partnership with aviation stakeholders and local leaders to best support this vital asset.”
“We at NBAA were delighted and honored to participate in this discussion,” said Doubrava. “Sen. Thune, who serves on the Senate GA Caucus, has been a strong supporter of the industry in his position on the Senate Commerce Committee. This meeting provided a welcome opportunity for the people and companies in South Dakota’s GA community to share their perspectives with him, and to highlight the significant presence the industry has in the state.”
The facts support Doubrava's assessment. According to the Alliance for Aviation Across America, South Dakota is home to 72 public-use airports, serving 2,247 pilots and 1,024 general aviation aircraft. According to figures cited by the alliance, the aviation industry as a whole supports more than 7,000 jobs and $250 million in wages throughout the state.
The Aug. 13 meeting came directly on the heels of a June 12 GA “rally,” hosted by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), and held in Albuquerque, N.M., where three NBAA representatives were present: Lisa Piccione, NBAA senior vice president, government affairs; Steve Hadley, NBAA director, regional programs and Stacy Howard, NBAA representative, Western region.
At the New Mexico event, GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce was joined by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Gov. Susana Martinez and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, each of whom provided first-hand testimonials about the value GA provides to the state.
“It’s clear that the New Mexico’s senator and governor, and Albuquerque’s mayor, all understand the importance of business aviation in New Mexico," Piccione said following the event. “With vast distances between communities, general aviation is often the only practical way for businesses to quickly access the destinations they need to reach, in the state and in markets across the U.S. and around the world.”
Piccione’s observations are backed up by available data. The Alliance for Aviation Across America reports that general aviation in New Mexico contributes $761 million to New Mexico’s economy. The state is home to 21 charter flight companies, 21 airport repair stations, and 40 fixed-based operators. San Juan College in Farmington, NM is a member of the University Aviation Association.
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