It has been a while since aviation has had a President who knew aviation. The outcome 2016 Presidential election could impact many major issues of great importance to aviation (NextGen, aviation taxes, User Fees, Privatization, Reauthorization II [it’s looking like Congress will be hard-pressed to give a thorough review], Airport Noise, Global Aviation Green standards). The below article reveals Mr. Trump’s aircraft inventory; it provides a useful catalyst to examine the Candidate’s AviWorthiness (a new aero political term).
CNN found that Donald Trump owns the following impressive airplane and aircraft inventory:
- a B-757 (pictured above, including a photograph of him at ease in that plane),
- two helicopters and
- a Citation XLS with the N number N725DT; the address of his NYC building and his initials.
This suggests that at least at a superficial level, Trump knows aviation. That is an important consideration when you are evaluating a candidate.
It is important for our business to encourage the men and women, seeking our votes, to put on the record what their position is on important aviation matters. For example, whatever your politics, it has been disappointing that the #1 issue for American aviation either received short shrift or no mention in the President’s last two State of the Union speeches. At the last Presidential cycle, A4A and others tried to include aviation issues in the Party Platforms. One Secretary has forecast that UASs and security will be part of the 2016 debate.
The trade associations and all aviation professionals who are active in politics need to research the candidates’ records. For example:
- Among the 16 Republicans, who have declared for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., six of them have voted in the House and Senate on major aviation bills; how did they vote?
- A former Secretary of State is running from the Democratic side. The obvious question is what did she do to negotiate treaties favorable to US airline routes and American aerospace; the more revealing question might be whom did she nominate to be the US Representative at ICAO and what qualifications did that person have?
- Several of the aspirants are/were state governors; what did they do to promote/support aviation; were airplanes easy targets for taxes; did they take an active or negative posture as to airport expansion?
Armed with this public record information, it is entirely appropriate to try to ask appropriate questions of the candidates at some local event. If your assessment of their political actions matches your political views, NOW is the time to get involved. Connect with the campaign staff and volunteer to do grass root work or ideally to participate in the definition of the planks on aviation policy.
There is another level of inquiry which you should pursue before you submit questions for a debate or a meeting and/or you totally commit to a candidate. Research, for example, of Donald Trump would reveal that while he is a major aircraft owner, he is also a NIMBY. His Florida mansion, Mar-a-Lago, is aligned with one of FLL’s runways. Though the runway predated his acquisition of the property, he aggressively pursued limiting flights over his property.
Other candidates may have aspects of their private lives which are important to know in evaluating your personal decision. Is the individual a pilot? Does she or he own or use personal aircraft? Has anyone taken a personal position against an airport in the neighborhood? Etc.?
Clearly the most important question to elicit in the campaign process is “what will you, as President, do on the major issues facing aviation during your first term?” Like:
- What will you do at ICAO on carbon emissions?
- Will you allow, or continue to allow, the imposition of user fees?
- What do you think of ATO Privatization [if either not yet enacted or based on __ months of experience?]
- How and what will you move on NextGen?
- What would be your criteria for selecting the DoT Secretary? Same question as to a replacement to the FAA Administrator at the end of his term?
- How will you use Air Force One?
- Or whatever is your aviation policy priority?
The answers to these questions will be revealing. The strong thrust of aviation tends to be revealing to the contenders for the Presidency.
It is time NOW to begin trying to have the 2016 Presidential Candidates hear about aviation issues. This is an important message; unfortunately, only one candidate’s record provided a useful example, by using Mr. Trump. If/when other candidates provide more of their aviation information, their positions will be reviewed.