Statement of Phil Boyer
Commerce, Science and Transportation
Chairman John McCain
Nomination to FAA Management Advisory Council
May 4, 2000
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee:
I am Phil Boyer and am profoundly honored to appear here today regarding my nomination for the FAA Management Advisory Council.
I do not have a lengthy statement, but in the interest of indicating how much I welcome the opportunity to serve on this council, I do want to highlight a few areas of my background and of course answer your questions.
I am a 6,000-hour pilot and have flown extensively throughout the United States and other parts of the world. What makes my experience somewhat unique is that I am not a paid professional pilot but represent the majority of this nation’s pilots who fly for business and pleasure. More than a third of my hours were gained in flying general aviation aircraft for recreation, and the remainder in executing the duties associated with my decade-long position as president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. With over 360,000 member-pilots, I aggressively travel to communicate and visit as many of our members as possible across the nation, and often internationally, in order to learn and act on their concerns.
I also am president of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation (ASF), serving not just AOPA members, but all pilots. The foundation is an effective partner with the FAA for improved general aviation safety, education, and training. More than 200 free safety seminars are held annually in conjunction with the agency’s Safety Program Office. In addition, I also have the honor of leading the 52 nations comprising the International Council of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations (IAOPA).
There are two important reasons why I wish to serve the American public on this prestigious council:
First, I will represent the views of the general aviation community to an advisory council where airlines, military aviation, airports, manufacturers, unions, and many other stakeholders will express their concerns over FAA performance and productivity. After all, general aviation comprises 75 percent of all U.S. pilots, 59 percent of annual flight hours, and 96 percent of U.S. civilian aircraft.
Secondly, I submit the issues at hand are issues of FAA management, planning, budgeting, cost-effectiveness, and employee productivity. Many who rise to leading positions in Washington, D.C., are from backgrounds in politics or public administration. However, my background is in business, specifically management, planning, budgeting, employee motivation, and the adaptation of new technology solutions.
Let me offer my view on the FAA’s challenges. Many critics today are concerned the FAA may fall from being one of America’s most admired federal agencies. Since its formation in 1958, the aviation world has looked at the FAA for leadership in the field of certification, air traffic efficiency, airports, and safety.
But the root problem today, as for many organizations, is the FAA’s inability to manage change and meet challenge through a confident, organization-wide culture of leadership and control, solid planning, energizing and directing employees, and motivating and managing for results.
Today I come before you as the head of a worldwide group of aviation associations. But what I also offer the MAC is my prior experience. For over 32 years I was in the broadcasting industry, with 27 years of executive management, a majority with the American Broadcasting Company. These included positions as vice president and general manager of ABC’s two largest owned and operated television broadcasting operations (Chicago and New York), plus more recent years as senior vice president for development at the ABC/Capital Cities corporate parent in New York City.
In that latter capacity, I headed ABC’s investigation and application of new, untried, and emerging technologies in electronic communications and information distribution, including international satellite operations. I also handled ABC’s international business opportunities, launching new businesses in Europe and Asia while developing novel new information products for the domestic market.
Looking back over my 10-year tenure with AOPA, I offer documented success in building the organization to becoming ranked among America’s 100 largest membership organizations, in large part due to such technological and management modernization.
One of the FAA’s many challenges is the inability to rapidly adopt and deploy the same such new technology and methods that have faced those of us in business. Now, twenty-first century computerization, space-based navigation flexibility, distributed air traffic control solutions, unique airport design, and other methods are essential for us to be able to face the growing American appetite for transportation by air.
The FAA’s performance in technology solutions since 1980 is not one dotted with huge successes. Clearly, this proud agency can use the advice and counsel of some of us who have succeeded in the technological and managerial revolution.
My philosophy is one of empowerment—strong management and oversight, surely, but the development and directing of people through coaching, monitoring, goal setting, guiding of tactics, and achieving of plans. The FAA workforce is heavily unionized, and now a growing professional corps is unionizing unit by unit. My past experience in the heavily unionized environment of broadcasting, with its technology based work rules, will be extremely helpful.
Congressional action in 1996 gave the FAA the personnel and acquisition reforms to assist in change. We must continue to grasp this opportunity, and the opportunities and resources granted under recent funding legislation. Beyond the FAA’s ample new resources, we must now help it find the tools and methods to convert potential into results—results you and the American people demand.
I am not blind to the massive task at hand. I do not think the Management Advisory Council will solve all FAA problems. I only know this is an unprecedented opportunity: For the first time, methods and strategies successful in service- and technology-oriented enterprises can officially find an ear at this critical federal agency.
These advisors with me here today have valuable insights to help the FAA more confidently adopt new approaches and untried solutions. The council’s potential is great, simply because its mandate is for fresh input to an agency that must now step out aggressively to meet the demands of the future with, at least, the methods of today.
Despite my experience in business and management, I come to you without commercial interest, representing only the valid interests of Americans who are pilots and aircraft owners, a constituency that needs and supports a better functioning FAA. Moreover, my attention to safety issues is paramount, and not only because AOPA is the only membership organization under consideration that has its own separate foundation—the AOPA Air Safety Foundation—devoted solely to improving aviation safety. The foundation has worked in partnership with the FAA for years in this cause and celebrates many successes in supporting FAA programs while knowing the agencies limitations as well.
I personally feel there can be no higher privilege for an individual from the private business and aviation sectors than to assist the Federal Aviation Administration in an advisory capacity. Thank you for the consideration of my nomination, and it would be my pleasure to answer any questions you might have.