Washington, DC, Feb. 5, 2014 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today lauded entrepreneur Jamail Larkins, CEO of NBAA Member Company Ascension Aircraft, for highlighting to Congress the importance of business aviation to his small business, and outlining ways the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can better work with companies like his.
In testimony today before the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee, Larkins explained to lawmakers the essential role a business airplane has played in the growth and success of his Georgia-based firm, which specializes in the sale of fractional-ownership shares of piston aircraft.
“Over the years, I have found that one of the most effective ways to sell business aircraft is to use business aircraft,” Larkins said. “With a business airplane, I can seize opportunities as they arise. The airplane enables me to meet face-to-face with potential clients. That level of service and accountability helps me get a leg up on my competition, and build my company. Simply put, business aviation is a big asset for small businesses – it’s the tool that makes a business model work.”
Larkins went on to note: “The United States not only has the world's largest, safest, most diverse and most efficient aviation system - it is also the best system in the world for allowing small companies like mine to succeed.” At the same time, Larkins observed: “There are a number of ways the FAA could strengthen its relationship with the small business community, so that the agency’s policies are more workable and effective for the FAA, and for businesses.”
As an example, Larkins pointed to the substantial backlog of nearly 1,000 job-creating training centers, flight schools, Part 135 charter operators and other aviation businesses awaiting certification before they can officially conduct business. “We need for the FAA to find ways to streamline its approval processes for these companies,” Larkins said. “We want to work with the FAA to find ways to do that.”
Larkins also pointed out the beneficial aspects of agency collaboration with the industry, citing work by a joint FAA-industry task force that recently led to revised authorization criteria for Reduced Vertical Separation Minima (RVSM) operations. “We would like to work with the FAA find similar areas where authorization procedures can safely be made more workable for operators today,” Larkins said.
The need for government officials to understand industry’s priorities and for effective collaboration between the two parties will also be vital, Larkins emphasized, as the FAA looks toward the next agency reauthorization by Congress.
As an example, Larkins highlighted the general aviation community’s long-standing support for fuel taxes as the best mechanism for operators to pay for their use of the aviation system.
“As a small business owner, I know that we don't need other funding mechanisms, like user fees – we also don't need the giant federal bureaucracy required to collect them,” Larkins pointedly noted.
“I know that there will be a robust debate in the coming months on this issue,” Larkins said following the hearing. “I very much appreciated the opportunity I had today to share with the committee my views as an entrepreneur and small business owner who relies on an airplane to succeed.”