Naples Airport Authority (NAA) Executive director Chris Rozansky appeared before the US House Subcommittee on Aviation on Wednesday July 13, 2022, to discuss the state of the general aviation industry from the perspective of a general aviation (GA) airport operator.
Representing the more than 4,400 general aviation facilities in the US on behalf of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), Mr. Rozansky highlighted the tremendous benefits that GA airports provide to the communities they serve, and explained the policy and infrastructure needs of the industry, including the need to update federal aircraft noise policy. Some of the key points put forward by Mr. Rozansky included:
The Role of General Aviation Airports
GA Airports play a key role in the aviation system and in our local economies. In Florida alone, more than 100 GA airports support more than 108,000 jobs and generate more than $18 billion in economic activity. According to the Florida Department of Transportation the Naples Airport’s annual economic impact to the community is more than $440 million. GA airports also deliver an array of vital services including flight training, law enforcement, mosquito control, firefighting, business aviation, disaster relief, hurricane recovery and medical transportation.
Noise and the Environment
Mr. Rozansky explained that Naples is an extremely noise sensitive community with residential development surrounding the airport. He emphasized that while Federal noise policy established decades ago has helped, we need a more collaborative approach between FAA, airports, and communities to address local concerns, which extend far beyond traditional noise contours.
To reduce pollution and to promote sustainability, GA airports are committed to the EAGLE initiative to transition to lead-free avgas for piston-engine aircraft by the end of 2030. Mr. Rozansky noted to the committee that this transition must be thoughtfully executed without putting the many critical services GA airports support, like training future airline pilots, at risk; and called for the need to better understand what types of infrastructure improvements are needed to support widespread use of the new unleaded fuels.
Mr. Rozansky discussed the funding gap that exists for infrastructure needs and urged Congress, as they prepare for the next FAA reauthorization bill, to make a greater investment in order to help airports meet their infrastructure needs.
Mr. Rozansky thanked the subcommittee for supporting of the successful FAA Contract Tower Program that enhances aviation safety at airports around the country, including the Naples Airport. He urged the committee to help address the air traffic controller shortage and highlighted Federal contract towers’ need for greater access to technology.
Advanced Air Mobility
Mr. Rozansky explained that electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft may revolutionize air travel while also offering immense environmental advantages. In the coming years, developers of eVTOLs are preparing to launch in major metropolitan areas throughout Florida, providing increased connectivity for smaller markets like Naples. He also urged Congress to provide additional funding for AAM vertiport planning at GA airports without jeopardizing funding for traditional airport infrastructure projects. Proper planning and close collaboration between airports, manufacturers and the FAA will be critical so successfully integrate this new sector.
Mr. Rozansky currently serves as the Vice-Chair of AAAE’s General Aviation Committee and was joined by other aviation industry leaders from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Helicopter Association International (HAI), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).