Only the economy marred the kickoff
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, TSA Administrator John Pistole, Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue joined NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen for the official welcoming ceremonies of the 2010 NBAA Convention Tuesday morning.
Bolen noted the primary issue facing business aviation is "the economy," segueing into his introduction of Donohue, who delivered a rousing pro-business call to arms.
"I have two simple messages," Donohue said, "Business aviation is critical to the [economic] recovery and long-term growth, and your industry has a true friend at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce."
Donohue said he has been a frequent and constant user of business aviation for 30 years. "Every day I see first hand the excellence of your industry and every day I enjoy the benefits of business aviation." He noted the 1.2 million jobs and $150 billion business and general aviation adds to the nation's economy.
Introducing TSA Administrator Pistole, Bolen stated, "Make no mistake, security is a core principal of our community. None are more focused on hardening security than the business aviation community."
Pistole said that in his previous job with the FBI, he often flew on the agency's GV, which provided the "opportunity to be at the gate moments before taxiing, and visiting three or four countries" in a time period that wouldn't be possible by commercial aviation. "But I really did not focus on security."
That, of course, changed radically after he took his position at TSA on July 1.
Pistole said he had been working with business aviation representatives to address concerns about the Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP), whose proposed rules were deemed onerous by many in the community. "I was hoping to be able to announce that we have an agreement, but the stark reality is, we're not quite done yet," Pistole said. He indicated that an agreement was close and was more a matter of internal protocol than ongoing disagreement.
Bolen noted that FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, with a lifetime in aviation, needed no education in business aviation in his introduction of the Administrator.
Babbitt, in invoking the history of the NBAA and its birth in 1947, talked about "the next revolution that is going to change the way we fly in the next generation." He told attendees, "You have been pioneers in so many ways of using technology."
Babbitt acknowledged the role both the FAA and the business aviation community must play in adoption of NextGen technologies. Said Babbitt, "We want to hear from you. We have to have a partnership as we move forward on modernization."
Babbitt also noted that Waas-LPV has created more than 2,000 precision approaches to 800 airports, many of which had no instrument approach procedures before.
Babbitt also discussed the NPRM on crew fatigue for Part 121 operations, and urged business aviation users to address fatigue issues in their own operations.
Bolen presented NBAA's American Spirit Award to Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue, who was the first of 17 governors to sign a proclamation in support of business aviation, and who delivered the keynote address at the 2007 NBAA Convention.
"I love things that are fun and functional," the governor said in accepting the award. "And I can't think of anything more fun and functional than aviation." Governor Purdue also noted that on Labor Day, he had earned his rotorcraft and rotorcraft instructor ratings, "part of that lifelong learning and challenge of flying."
Governor Purdue made considerable use of his Bellanca when campaigning for his position, and noted that with just another month in office, "I'm looking forward to getting back in that Bellanca."
Capping the welcoming ceremonies, Bolen introduced Jimmy Hayes, president and CEO of Cox Enterprises, who lives in the Atlanta area. He talked about the roles his Pilatus PC-12 and business aviation have played in his personal and business lives.