Many of the current threats to general aviation stem from misperceptions of the industry, and AOPA is responding with its educational initiative, GA Serves America, AOPA Executive Vice President of Government Affairs Andy Cebula said April 27.
GA pumps $150 billion into the U.S. economy each year and creates 1.2 million jobs, but it faces serious challenges from legislators and regulators that could cause some, if not all, of that economic activity to grind to a halt. Cebula outlined top concerns for AOPA members in comments during a roundtable on the state of GA at the American Association of Airport Executives General Aviation Issues Conference in Texas on Monday.
At the top of the list of critical issues are the Obama Administration's proposal to impose $7.5 billion in user fees and calls by the airlines for GA to “pay more” to support the FAA.
Potential airport closures and restrictions on flights further threaten GA, Cebula said, and the current economic crisis is adding pressures on communities to raise the cost for using airports. And new security requirements on GA being initiated by the Transportation Security Administration are contributing to anxiety about how far security officials will go to restrict GA operations, he added.
Tracing the threats to GA back to a misunderstanding of the industry by policymakers and opinion leaders, Cebula said AOPA launched the GA Serves America campaign to address misconceptions about GA; the campaign will augment AOPA’s existing advocacy efforts. He showed one of the first advertisements in the GA Serves America campaign, a video featuring actor and avid pilot Harrison Ford. Ford volunteered his time to help AOPA in this effort.
Cebula also explained what the GA community needs to do to share the message of the important role this industry plays in the nation's air transportation system.