The head of a trade group representing Textron Aviation, Bombardier Learjet and other business aircraft companies said legislative obstacles remain for the industry that is seeing stable but not robust business.
Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association, was in Wichita on Tuesday for the opening day of Bombardier Business Aircraft’s annual Safety Standdown at the Wichita Hyatt Regency.
In an interview with The Eagle, Bolen said a legislative victory was achieved this year with the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, and specifically a measure to reform third-class medical certificates for general aviation pilots.
The reform would allow most pilots who have had a regular or special issuance third-class medical certificate within 10 years of enactment to not have to see an aviation medical examiner again.
But another measure, aimed at streamlining the certification process for new aircraft and other products, did not make the final version of the FAA reauthorization passed by Congress. Bolen said reforming certification remains a legislative priority.
“There is a belief it would lead to newer, better and safer technologies reaching the market sooner,” he said of certification reform. And “it could take the cost of certifying products (and) reduce that.”
Preventing privatization of the air traffic control system is also a priority. He said privatization is being pushed largely by the airline industry, which could compromise general aviation’s access to the nation’s airspace and airports. It could also hurt general and business aviation through the imposition of user fees to pay for a privatized system.
“We’re concerned that the overall system would effectively serve the interest of the airlines as opposed to the public,” Bolen said.
As for the business aviation industry, Bolen thinks it’s stable.
Flight hours are up, which means business people are using their airplanes. But the used business aircraft market is “a little softer than maybe historical norms,” he said.
“The delivery of new airplanes are stable but not as robust as certainly the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) would hope,” Bolen added.
The introduction of new airplanes, products and services at the NBAA Convention in Orlando, Fla. in November, would help the industry, he said.
“There’s no question new products stimulate demand and our industry grows when new products, new technologies, new services come to market,” Bolen said. “And in a lot of ways the NBAA Convention is a celebration of those products. And we expect this year to be no exception.”
Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark