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NATA’s Coyne reflects on challenging year

In wrapping up the seventieth anniversary year of the National Air Transportation Association, President Jim Coyne on Nov. 30 looked back at some of the highlights of 2010 and at some challenges of the year to come.

At a meeting with Washington, D.C., area news media, Coyne described the weeks after the Big Three automakers separately flew business jets to Washington, D.C., to plead for funding in late 2008 as the darkest days in his more than 30 years in aviation. The resulting flak from the media and Congress led to the dissolution of numerous flight departments, and for his member charter companies and fractional ownership companies, the parking of many business airplanes as companies and even individuals shied away from general aviation. FBOs, also members of NATA, suffered as a result, with declining fuel sales. Earlier this year in a Capitol Hill video, Coyne took President Barack Obama to task for denigrating business aviation in his State of the Union address while at the same time using Air Force One for more travel than any other president in history.

Coyne, a former member of Congress, hopes that the new Congress will “get back to the fundamental job in regard to aviation—to promote aviation and safety.” The mandate to promote aviation was removed from the FAA charter in the mid-1990s when it was deemed a conflict with the need to regulate safety. Coyne is among those rallying to reverse that decision. “There is nothing more important for general aviation than to increase flight activity,” he said. FAA promotion of aviation would help achieve that.

Besides advocating for charter operators, FBOs, fractional companies, and flight schools, NATA offers training courses for its members. Coyne says he believes the association’s training programs for line personnel have over the years saved lives and saved insurance companies millions of dollars in claims from aircraft not damaged on ramps and in hangars.

Looking forward, Coyne sees achieving FAA reauthorization as a primary goal for 2011. He expects the seventeenth continuing resolution to be passed soon that will extend FAA funding into the spring when the new Congress will hopefully pass a permanent funding bill. Another 2011 challenge will be in tackling the long-standing problem of lack of certification standards among various FAA regional offices.

Thomas B. Haines

Thomas B Haines

Contributor (former Editor in Chief)
Contributor and former AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines joined AOPA in 1988. He owns and flies a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza. Since soloing at 16 and earning a private pilot certificate at 17, he has flown more than 100 models of general aviation airplanes.

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