While our industry has unquestionably faced difficult times before, I want to reaffirm to all of you reading this issue of Professional Pilot that everyone at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) continues to work at all levels to support and represent the broader business aviation community, as our entire world confronts a truly unprecedented situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Just as with past challenges, our response to the coronavirus relies on our coming together to face this common threat with a united purpose.
We must rededicate ourselves to operating safely, taking all necessary precautions to minimize the risk of infection and transmission of the virus, while ensuring that business aviation continues flying to support a variety of important missions and humanitarian trips.
In these turbulent times, NBAA’s work at the federal level, before local authorities, with media sources, and elsewhere, emphasizes the importance of business aviation to the nation’s economy and transportation system, so as to achieve the right outcomes for the industry.
As one example, NBAA welcomed the recent passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which contains NBAA-initiated provisions that will assist the business aviation community.
In addition to creating loan and grant programs that can apply to general aviation (GA) commercial operators, FAR Part 145 repair stations, and other small- to mid-size aviation businesses, the bill adds $100 million in Airport Improvement Program funding dedicated to GA airports in recognition of their importance to thousands of underserved communities – especially in times of crisis.
The bill also temporarily suspends air transportation excise taxes for commercial operations. NBAA’s advocacy efforts also led FAA to issue a series of extensions allowing Part 135 operators to temporarily forgo certain training requirements relating to crew safety concerns with Covid-19 and allowing certain personnel up to 3 additional months to complete recurrent and upgrade training and qualification activities.
These steps by FAA allow many charter operators to continue flying and provide much-needed assistance to communities and medical facilities during the crisis. FAA also responded to NBAA requests for relief by allowing pilots to continue to fly if their airmen medical certificates expire between Mar 31 and Jun 30, in order to reduce the burden on the country’s healthcare system during the Covid-19 pandemic, and to limit the potential spread of the virus across the pilot community.
At the local level, in collaboration with FAA, NBAA halted a Covid-19-driven attempt to close GA airports in Puerto Rico. As a result, all the island’s airports remain open – with 3 designated as ports of entry – and authorities continue to recognize the single, federal construct governing our nation’s aviation system.
We will remain vigilant to protect against similar attempts to limit airport access elsewhere. As always, NBAA has also corrected misleading news accounts about the business aviation community and the effect of the Covid-19 crisis on the industry.
This includes messages published by The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, CNBC, and others following recent stories based on false narratives and missing key facts. These efforts, across many fronts, are in addition to an extensive variety of Covid-19-focused resources and other support for members-specific day-to-day priorities.
Our dedicated Covid-19 operational considerations resource (see nbaa.org/coronavirus) has a variety of tools to help those in the business aviation community think through the legal, medical, operational, technical, and other aspects of flight department operations.
During this crisis, NBAA has also introduced 2 new offerings to its members – the NBAA News Hour interactive webinar series, and the NBAA Insider Daily news service – to help business aviation stakeholders navigate our toughest challenges.
I hope you’ll participate in an upcoming webinar and subscribe to the daily news service. As NBAA works to support business aviation users and operators around the world, I am encouraged to know the people and companies in business aviation are also working to support each other and their communities.
Countless stories tell of companies lending a hand, like the aviation businesses repurposing their equipment and workers to produce protective masks, the regional groups’ coordinated effort to fly medical supplies to rural areas, and the charter companies’ work to deliver hundreds of meals to Covid-19-stricken families.
Their service underscores our industry’s humanitarian spirit, especially at a time such as this. As we all work to support one another, I offer my thanks to everyone in our community for your continued support for NBAA and our industry. As we have many times before, we will meet this latest challenge and emerge triumphantly from it.