Washington DC – Today, the Alliance for Aviation Across America held a panel discussion with state and local leaders to highlight commitments and investments made by the general aviation industry in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and the importance of emerging technologies such as advanced air mobility (AAM).
Key points raised by panelists included that SAF is safe and ready for use, the current and future benefits of sustainable and other technologies for communities around the country, and the need for federal and local support to achieve these goals.
Mayor Steve Williams of Huntington, WV, National League of Cities (NLC) Board of Directors, U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) Advisory Board, and Member of the Alliance for Aviation Across America Board of Directors, said in a statement in conjunction with the event, “General aviation and our network of airports are a huge economic driver and lifeline for communities around our nation, supporting over a million jobs, $247 billion in economic impact, including $1.3 billion in economic impact in West Virginia alone.
“These investments and the support of leaders at the state and federal level will drive economic growth at a critical time. For example, at our local undergraduate program at Marshall University, educators are training the next generation of aviation professionals and pilots, which will reduce the shortage of aviation professionals and help to grow our future workforce.”
Participants also highlighted the exciting potential and progress of these technologies, as well as the benefits of general aviation in supporting critical services for local communities, which are often left behind by other modes of transportation.
For example, Kansas Secretary of Transportation Julie Lorenz, Chair of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Council on Aviation, said, “With a $20.6 billion-per-year aerospace industry in Kansas, aviation and general aviation companies in Kansas have been at the forefront of fielding sustainable fuel and emerging aerospace technologies such as unmanned systems and AAM. Aviation supports more than 47,000 well-paying jobs in the state, as well as critical services for local communities and a workforce training pipeline for the largest aircraft manufacturing complex in the world. As we continue to partner with major aerospace manufacturers, AAM represents exciting opportunities for more connected communities while reducing congestion and environmental impact.”
The Alliance, along with other organizations, launched a webpage to highlight research programs and contributions of businesses in sustainable aviation, snapshots of jobs and local economic opportunity, and examples of industry commitments to these goals. These organizations include the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AATSHTO), National Association of Counties (NACo), National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Oregon Chamber of Commerce, National Grange, Maryland Farm Bureau, Arizona Farm Bureau, and the Main Street Project.
Commissioner Bill Holen of Arapahoe County, CO, and National Association of Counties (NACO) Transportation Steering Committee Vice Chair, said, “In my county alone, Gevo, Bye Aerospace and other companies are developing sustainable fuel and technologies. Federal support such as fuel tax credits and incentives will support the commitments of these companies, growth of the general aviation sector and our network of airports, which are critical to supporting jobs and the delivery of medical care and supplies, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Colorado, groups like the Colorado Hospital Association, Angel Flight West and many local operators have all been part of an effort to deliver PPE and medical care to patients and communities throughout the state.”
Participants stated the importance of policy and support to create a diverse workforce, increase the production and availability of SAF and advance the development of AAM infrastructure. For example, legislation has been introduced last Congress, H.R 5118, to create a workforce public service campaign to strengthen the aviation workforce. In addition, H.R. 8532; introduced last year, would create a National Center for the Advancement of Aviation to address aviation workforce challenges at a critical time. Industry is also advocating for a performance based SAF blender’s tax credit which was recently included as part of the President’s infrastructure proposal. Finally, discussion of a grant program to plan for and build the future infrastructure required for AAM has been a priority.
Michael Alaimo, Director of Environmental and Energy Affairs at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said “On the heels of this unprecedented global pandemic and with thousands of businesses and virtually every industry and supply chain in our country reliant on aviation and general aviation, now is the time to invest in this critical part of our infrastructure. This will not only help businesses to maintain and increase their efficiency and productivity, but ensure access to over 5,000 airports, including 211 general aviation airports in Michigan that support more than 33,000 jobs.
“Here in Michigan, companies like AvFuel and Williams International are expanding the use of SAF, while major employers, such as the automotive industry, are making investments in AAM. We should support these investments at both the state and national level.”
“Now is the time for each of us to embrace a culture of innovation as we work together to validate technologies that are worthy of significant investment. By collaborating on efforts like SAF and AAM, we are working to build a world-class transportation system for our nation and everything that depends on it,” concluded Secretary Lorenz.
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Formed in 2007, the Alliance for Aviation Across America is a non-profit coalition of over 7,000 individuals, businesses, agricultural groups, FBO’s, airports, elected officials, charitable organizations, and leading business and aviation groups that support the interests of the general aviation community across various public policy issues.