General aviation contributes $521 million to the Maine economy each year and supports more than 2,400 jobs. Yet the role of the advisory group overseeing GA has so far been limited: The Maine aeronautical advisory board has typically met once a year. A state senator is working to fix that, expanding the board’s involvement in aviation planning and advocacy.
Maine Sen. Lisa Marraché has worked out an agreement with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to promote GA in the state by increasing the advisory board’s involvement in advocacy and local issues; she is now working to enact some of the changes into law. AOPA has been working with Marraché to support her initiative.
Marraché first proposed a bill in the Senate that would establish an advisory committee to promote GA, but the DOT said the committee would be redundant because the state already has a board serving a similar function. Marraché was concerned that the group did not do enough to support GA, so she met with DOT officials to find ways for the commission to be more active.
Under the resulting agreement with the DOT, the board would include more representatives of pilots and aircraft owners; the current seat reserved for a member of the public with no interest or experience in aviation would be eliminated. The DOT told Marraché the board would meet three times a year and be more involved in advocacy and local issues.
AOPA wrote to the chairman of the transportation committee in support of Marraché’s efforts when she first proposed the bill. She amended the bill to reflect her conversations with the DOT, and AOPA continues to support the goal of greater promotion of and advocacy for GA in Maine.
“With only six commercial airports in the state, Maine’s 62 public-use general aviation airports are vital in connecting small communities throughout the state with vital services--including law enforcement, emergency medical flights, cargo delivery, and small business transportation,” wrote AOPA Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy Greg Pecoraro. “In addition, more than 130,000 visitors arrive in Maine every year on general aviation aircraft.” The continued growth and sustainability of Maine’s GA system will require dedicated management and planning, he added.