Washington, DC—General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) President and CEO Pete Bunce and Joe Brown, President of Hartzell Propeller, Inc., and Vice Chairman of GAMA, testified today before the U.S. House Aviation Subcommittee on the challenges and opportunities for U.S. aviation manufacturing. In their testimony, both Bunce and Brown emphasized the importance of implementing changes to the FAA’s certification process, reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and maintaining and strengthening the United States’ role as an active, engaged international leader in aviation.
While the FAA has developed plans to improve its process for certificating new aircraft products and technologies, too often implementation of needed changes has not resulted in the intended improvements, Bunce told the Subcommittee, which is chaired by U.S. Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.). Bunce cited as one example the FAA’s inability to change its policy of sequencing, which delays certification programs. After repeated public comments and proposals to replace sequencing, manufacturers remain frustrated that the current policy remains in place, making the FAA certification process unpredictable and uncompetitive for many companies.
Bunce and Brown also cited implementation problems with the FAA’s use of the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program. Manufacturers and the FAA have invested significant resources in establishing and qualifying ODA organizations. However, the practical implementation and use of the ODA program has been inconsistent from one region to another and even from project to project for the same manufacturer. This inefficiency adds significant delay and cost to certification programs—not only for those manufacturers that have an ODA, but also for other standard certification projects that are waiting on these FAA resources.
Brown highlighted the importance of exports to Hartzell, a 300-person company based in Piqua, Ohio, and founded in 1917. A decade ago, total export sales represented about 30 percent of the company’s revenue; today, exports represent 50 percent of revenue. In growing these exports, both Bunce and Brown noted the importance of the Export-Import Bank to general aviation manufacturers. In fact, because of the uncertainty surrounding the Bank’s reauthorization on his customers, Brown announced that his company’s capital investment project list had been cut by 50 percent for 2015. The Bank’s current authorization expires on September 30, 2014, and GAMA and Hartzell both support its reauthorization.
By adopting policies that promote growth, policy makers can ensure that the United States continues its position as a global leader in aviation, both Bunce and Brown said. “Anything we do in policy making that hurts our industry’s time to market or entry into new markets will have an exponential impact on the incredibly diverse employers making up the U.S. aviation supply chain,” Brown said. Bunce called on the FAA and Departments of Transportation, State, and Commerce to demonstrate international leadership because, “while the potential to grow general and business aviation globally is tremendous, industry expansion will only happen through concerted policy and technical level engagement on a region-by-region basis.”
GAMA is an international trade association representing over 80 of the world's leading manufacturers of general aviation airplanes and rotorcraft, engines, avionics, components and related services. GAMA's members also operate repair stations, fixed based operations, pilot and maintenance training facilities and manage fleets of aircraft. For more information, visit GAMA's website at www.GAMA.aero.