Wise Counsel from a GA Oracle may help Define a Path to Consensus

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ARTICLE: Five Things Aviation Needs Right Now

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AirFacts is an interesting website; as its masthead says, it’s “by pilots for pilots.” John Zimmerman is the site’s editor-in-chief, publisher of iPad Pilot News and in his spare time is the Vice President – Catalogue of Sporty’ s Pilot Shop. The man obviously is in a position to make cogent observations about General Aviation. The above link will take you to content of that right stuff—good thoughts and comments about the GA sector.

Mr. Zimmerman’s first, but unnumbered, comment bears repeating—“general aviation isn’t dying, it’s just changing.” That is an incredibly insightful point; people and institutions are uncomfortable with a dynamic status. Something new can cause fear or it can inspire. Alarm induced by new conditions is neither a good basis for managing a cockpit nor dealing with economic, industrial, regulatory and political conditions of a business. Trying to understand where GA is going, attempting to deal with those forces and looking for an inspired strategy is what Mr. Zimmerman suggests.

His blog then lists 5 factors which must be addressed; below are comments on or further enhancements of his themes:

  1. Inspiring industry leadership—several of the key GA organizations are experiencing changes in their CEOs. New skill sets are needed to make AOPA, EAA, Cessna and Cirrus relevant to these tumultuous times. Fortuitously, other aviation associations have – or are going through – searches for their top management. All of aviation is subject to many of the same forces as GA and it will be critical to the broader industry’s success that these “generals” get along and that their collective assets cover all of the tools needed to deal with the Administration, evolving technologies, global competition, public perception and the like.
  2. A new approach to certification—this one appears to be in the positive development column—read this—although the regulation may/should beat the legislation to final status.
  3. Straight talk on avgas—the Zimmerman points are well taken.
  4. Clarity about NextGen—leadership is an important element to solving this issue. GA and the rest of the aviation industry may have differing technical needs and capacity; there may be some tension as to a universal ATC regime. The heavy hitting airlines are not 100% convinced that they need all of the bells and whistles which the FAA’s vision of NextGen includes. They have also made it clear that they are uncomfortable paying for all of the agency’s wish list. Consequently, both major user groups have concerns (similar?) about NextGen. The debate is on-going and the new leaders will have to exhibit the Wisdom of Solomon in slicing the NextGen offering/costs.
  5. Less complaining, more encouraging—Amen! Mr. Zimmerman’s point stimulates broader thoughts: The FAA, the Administration and the Congress have neither the capacity nor the interest to parse through the disparate views to find the commonalities (if any) of our business. When the policy makers read the position papers of the major airlines, the low cost carriers, regional operator, business aircraft, the single pilot GA flyers, manufacturers of big and small airframes and powerplants, airports (hub, medium and rural), the unions (pilots, flight attendants and mechanics) and all of the associated members of this industry, all find discord. Without some agreed on basics, the government can easily ignore all of disagreement as noise to be ignored. Thus, it is time to have the leaders and their members reject the myopic perspective and to find principles that matter most to all stakeholders. Once defined, that point or points of consensus must serve as the foundation of an aviation policy. At the margin, individual segments may have to sacrifice things to which they have clung in the past in an effort to create a united front. The Washington policy makers will only pay attention to a single statement of industry support.

Without such unanimity, aviation’s future will continue on its recent rudderless path.

Well said, Mr. Zimmerman; hopefully your wise pentagonal gospel will help guide GA and other forms of aviation through the ominous clouds onto a new direction.

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