Vermont’s aviation community has gained a new resource for state-level advocacy with the launch of an association designed to help the state’s diverse aviation interests speak with one voice to promote the sector.
Bringing all facets of aviation together to work for the future growth of aviation in Vermont and increase public awareness of its contributions will be the focus of the Vermont Aviation Management Association, said Guy Rouelle, the group’s leader and recently retired state aeronautics administrator, who is a pilot, planner, and aviation engineer.
With its new advocacy arm, Vermont’s aviation sector joins New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, and other states in the region in strengthening the industry’s voice in policy discussions and public education.
Elizabeth Deringer, a long-time colleague of Rouelle’s with a “strong business management background,” will be VAMA’s executive director, he said. A website for the organization was expected to debut around Aug. 11, according to a new Facebook page for the group.
Long-term policy priorities, such as protecting a permanently extended sales and use tax exemption for aircraft sold to businesses engaged in air commerce and parts and equipment installed on all aircraft, are planned.
Nearer term, Rouelle expressed concern that the state government position in which he served starting in 2011 has gone unfilled since he vacated the post in early June. That leaves the leadership of a 22-employee governmental unit, and the management of aviation infrastructure in the 16-airport system, which has seen $70 million in improvements in the last four years, in limbo, he said, adding that when he was named to fill the classified state job in 2011, it had been vacant for only three weeks.
Ten of the state’s public-use airports have been state-owned since 1978; the others are privately owned, he said.
AOPA “actively engages with and supports aviation advocacy associations all across the country, particularly across the Northeast where competition at airports for increased aviation business is fierce due to the relatively small states, differing levels of taxation, and proximity of airports in neighboring states,” said Sean Collins, AOPA’s Eastern Region manager.
“AOPA members in Vermont should support this new local organization. It will serve to benefit them as pilots,” he said.