Aviation Advocacy, or in simple terms:
“I’m Mad As Hell, and I’m Not Going To Take This Anymore!”
Globalair.com article written by Jeremy R.C. Cox on January 31st, 2011
Many readers of this column might remember the 1976 film: “Network” from which I quoted the famous line above. Whether you do, or you don’t remember, the sentiment carried by this quote is totally appropriate to the aviation industry as it stands today: mired between the love that all of we insiders lavish upon it - the near total diffidence and almost total loathing that the eyes of the general public uses to view our industry – the secretive treatment of our industry by most leading company executives that the use of business aircraft is akin to maintain a mistress on the side –the empty words and visible stands made by self-serving politicians who are all heavy users of our products and services, and yet they rarely publically advocate the competitive advantages that business aviation use opens up for them – and lastly the media; a nasty mob of ill-informed, self opinionated asses who have truly lost the thread when it comes to ‘truth’ and ‘substantiated fact.’
All of the alphabet groups have spent millions of dollars of their member’s money on advertising campaigns that rarely deliver the carefully designed message to the right people. As accurate, as inspiring, and all out ‘feel-good’ as most of these print, internet and the odd but-rare television advertisement might make all of we ‘industry insiders’ believe that the right message is being delivered by our paid advocate organizations; unfortunately a lot of this advertising is aimed at us...We the believers, while there is no coordinated message being communicated to the business executives, the general public and so-called public servants, our politicians. My apologies to our alphabet leaders and communication directors, but like I said at the beginning of this piece: “I’m Mad As Hell, and I’m Not Going To Take This Anymore!”
As an industry, we have all been getting squeezed for some time now. Unfortunately most of us were either too focused or horse-blinkered into not seeing the outside forces gathering against us much sooner than we have today. The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) is the not the root cause of our identity problems, instead it has merely accentuated our public perception issues. No, a large chunk of the pie-chart that depicts our industry problems is due thanks to the secretive way in which we conduct our day-to-day operations. We cater to an elite group of people who choose private aviation, because it is just that: “private.”
Unfortunately public opinion has been stolen and quickly enslaved by the airlines and the military. In any conversation that pops up off-airport while we all go about our daily lives, usually involves a neighbour, fellow school-parent or acquaintance at a sporting event, whom which immediately upon learning that you are a pilot/mechanic/flight attendant/dispatcher/refueller/etc. the first question is “...what airline do you fly for?” If your facial expression alerts them to the fact that they may have misjudged you, then usually the next question is: “...are you in the military?”
Now please don’t misconstrue what I am saying here about the airlines; I am an aviation historian and I am both proud and fascinated by what the airlines have done to shrink this planet. Unfortunately though, the airlines are flat-out the number-one enemy of business aviation. We know this from the User-Fee campaign that they launched against us all back in 2006/2007.
So what does all of this mean? What is the point of this article?
I believe that it is long overdue for all of us to become either first-time, or better and more effective aviation advocates. SO what is an advocate you may ask?
According to the Compact Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, an ‘Advocate’ is: 1 a person who publically supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. 2 a person who pleads a case on someone else’s behalf.
Business and General Aviation is definitely a cause. I personally derive 100% of my income from this particular cause, and I am pretty certain that most of the readers of this column are working under the same situation as me. Who could we possibly have to plead for, other than on our own behalf, you may ask? Well think about it, there are more than 1,200,000 of us out there, all putting food on our families’ tables’ thanks exclusively to the Business and General Aviation Industry. It is easy for anyone outside of our industry to think that pilots are the only people that work in our industry. Sadly it is not just outsiders that believe this, so maybe it is about time we all showed each other the respect that we all deserve, and remember that there is a whole coach-load of people that support a pilot in the performance of his job. I can think of 32 aviation career positions, but I am probably could come up with more if I really stretched my mind. Here are my 32, in no particular order:
· Line Service Personnel
· Bird Scarers’
· Airport Manager
· Aviation Accountant
· Aircraft Dispatcher
· Maintenance and Airworthiness Inspector
· Aviation Insurance Agent
· Aviation Meteorologist
· Aviation Medical Examiner
· Aircraft Parts Manager
· Aviation Financier
· Director of Aircraft Maintenance
· Aircraft Engineer
· Computer Analyst
· Airport Fire/Rescue
· Certified Flight and Ground Instructors
· Flight Attendant
· Avionics Technician
· Aviation Maintenance Technician
· Technical Service Representative
· FAA Inspector
· Air Traffic Controller
· Safety Officer/Auditor
· Aviation Department Manager
· Aircraft Owner
The U.S. House of Representatives Aviation Committee Chairman, Mr. John Mica, R-Fla., said: “The aviation industry accounts for 11 percent of the country's gross domestic product.” Furthermore, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Member Companies earn annual revenues of nearly $5 trillion – a number that is about half the gross national product – and employ more than 19 million people worldwide.
So back to being an Aviation Advocate; what can each and every one of us do to have an effect on public opinion?
You can start by telling everyone that you know, about what you do; why you do it; and the impact that our industry has on the United States of America, and also the rest of the World. The General Public is totally ignorant of Business and General Aviation. Also write, call, email and visit all of your federally and locally elected officials.
So what are the main issues outside of curing public ignorance about Business and General Aviation that must be advocated by all of us?
We Need Real Modernization in our Industry:
Fully Funding the FAA and Preserving Accountability
The air traffic control system needs to be driven by the best interests of American public – not the airlines’ bottom line. Specifically, we need to:
Modernize the Air Traffic Control System with Satellite Technology
Support transitioning to the Next Generation Air Transportation System that is satellite-based rather than today’s ground-based navigation system. The FAA bill, which includes provisions for modernizing the nation's aviation navigation systems, has been extended 17 times since it expired in 2007
Reject “User Fees” in any Form
User fees would impose an unfair regulatory and financial burden on the millions of Americans who depend on business and general aviation for their livelihood, and have the potential to ground small aircraft. Oppose this tax structure and instead be in favour of the current “pay at the pump” fuel tax system, as it the simplest, most efficient way to fund FAA operations. MYTH - User fees are necessary for modernization of our air traffic control system. REALITY - Modernization of the air traffic control system is critical, but an overhaul of a successful funding system is not necessary to accomplish those goals. Budget documents show that the user fee scheme proposed by the commercial airlines would have actually CUT modernization funding by at least $600 million, and user fees would add unnecessary bureaucracy. The Government Accountability Office and the Department of Transportation Inspector General have also testified to Congress that the current aviation tax structure is forecasted to raise enough revenue to cover the FAA’s anticipated modernization cost. MYTH - All aircraft place the same costs on the air traffic control system. REALITY - The big airlines want you to believe that a four passenger turboprop and a 400 passenger 747 impose the same costs on the system and should pay the same amount in taxes. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has twice concluded that the commercial airlines drive the FAA’s costs through their hub operations at congested airports.
Oppose “Large Aircraft Security Program” (LASP)
Unnecessary and inefficient security measures, such the “Large Aircraft Security Program” proposed by the TSA, would have dire consequences on the business and general aviation community. These new and arbitrary rules by TSA would create a huge new bureaucracy that would do little to prevent terrorist activity relating to the use of a small aircraft, and would unfortunately decimate businesses, farmers, and organizations with new administrative burden and bureaucracy.
Support the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and Essential Air Service.
To help you in your quest for enlightened advocacy, please visit all of the following websites often:
I urge you to start writing letters, making telephone calls and to go on elected-representative-office visits. All feedback given to politicians, all education that you can give freely to the general public, will benefit us all. Our families all depend on us becoming aviation advocates and getting a clear and concise message out to both opinion makers and policy makers alike. The sooner that everybody on this planet realizes that a business aircraft is indeed a ‘business tool’ just like a Blackberry or Laptop is a ‘business tool’, and it is understood that a business aircraft means the difference between making 3 meetings in one day, instead of 1 meeting in 3 days, we shall all be better off. If we don’t our industry might die.
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