Pilots in Washington State have another voice advocating for them on airport, economic, legislative, and public perception issues. The Washington State Aviation Alliance brings together powerful groups in general aviation from the state and national level to serve as a collective voice for the industry.
The alliance’s first initiative is getting all of the state’s aircraft excise taxes paid by aircraft owners allocated to the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division. Currently, only 10 percent of the funds go toward aviation uses, while 90 percent go into the state’s general fund. Two bills, state Senate Bill 5324 and House Bill 1526, propose to do just that. State groups have tried to get this measure passed during the past two legislative sessions, and the new alliance could prove powerful in pushing these bills through, said AOPA Northwest Mountain Regional Manager Dave Ulane, who worked with the various aviation groups to help form the alliance.
In addition to proposing and supporting pro-GA legislation, the alliance also will promote airports; encourage aviation education, training, and new skilled workers; bolster the state’s economy and transportation system; communicate with the state’s decision makers as well as the state and national advocacy groups; and serve as a resource for airport planning initiatives and any aviation-related issues in the state.
“When aviation associations collaborate and collectively tackle GA issues with the same message, legislators and policymakers pay even greater attention,” Ulane said. “Through these alliances and advocacy efforts, AOPA is fostering better relationships between airports, users, elected officials, and regulators, which help protect and grow general aviation and community airports.”
Ulane, who helped to create the Colorado General Aviation Alliance, provided valuable input during focus meetings to help create the alliance in Washington State. North Dakota has a similar alliance as well.
The Washington Pilots Association, Washington Airport Management Association, Washington State Community Airports Association, and the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division will provide critical state and local input on decisions, while leading advocates at the national level, including AOPA, the National Business Aviation Association, and the Recreational Aviation Foundation, will participate as non-voting members of the alliance to provide a national perspective on the issues.
Kandace Harvey, of the Washington Airport Management Association, will serve as the alliance’s first president; Les Smith, of the Washington Pilots Association, as the vice president; David Ketchum, of the Washington State Community Airports Association as the treasurer; and Tristan Atkins, of the Washington State Department of Transportation, as the secretary. In addition to these leaders, Warren Hendrickson, the executive director of the Washington Airport Management Association, also played an instrumental role in founding the alliance.
“Pilots can support the alliance by maintaining their current memberships in the state and national advocacy groups,” Ulane said. “Working together, we can influence positive changes in Washington State.”