By Curt Epstein
This morning at the opening session of NBAA’s 24th annual Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference, NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen looked to the start of the new session of Congress and used his podium to issue an impassioned plea for show attendees to contact their representatives, requesting they join the general aviation caucus.
“One thing I have learned after nine years of coming to Schedulers and Dispatchers is that the people that come to this conference are doers–you guys make things happen, so I am coming to you today to ask you to get it done,” he told the audience gathered in the ballroom of the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center. Despite the last session being generally regarded as a do-nothing Congress due to partisan arguing, Bolen recounted the aviation-friendly legislation it was able to pass, including the reinstatement of the BARR program, the oft-delayed FAA reauthorization, the pilot’s bill of rights, legislation against the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme and the extension of bonus depreciation.
He credited those successes to the industry’s engagement with the legislators on both sides of the aisle over the last four years. During the session of Congress that just ended, those efforts resulted in nearly 40 percent of lawmakers in both houses joining their GA caucuses, a level that Bolen said must be achieved again in the new session to provide protection for the industry against threats such as user fees. With the battles over the national debt and sequestration still facing debate, some legislators continue to view additional fees on general aviation as a source of revenue without raising taxes, he noted.