NBAA President & CEO Ed Bolen on NBAA, COVID-19 & Support for Members

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NBAA President & CEO Ed Bolen speaks on what the NBAA and AsBAA are doing for the business aviation industry in the age of COVID-19, what’s the challenges are now, and the value of the NBAA and international associations to members in Asia.


Everyone is always interested in hearing what NBAA is doing in the US market during the COVID-19 situation. And how you’re supporting members and trying to assist everyone to get through these challenging times.

Ed Bolen (00:31)

Well, NBAA is working hard to be an authoritative voice on what we know about COVID-19 and what we understand about the best practices related to business aviation in this environment. So, we’ve done a number of things to communicate with our members, including a daily news service. We are doing webinars three times a week where we discuss everything from how to disinfect your airplane to keeping pilots current in this environment.

In addition to that, we’ve been working hard with the government to make sure that the laws and regulations related to business aviation are appropriate. For example, we were able to work with the government to make sure that when someone’s medical license or their training license expired during COVID-19 crisis the government is able to extend it for a period of 90 days. The exploration recognizing that it was just impossible to get to a doctor for a physical or even have some of the currency training that we would have in normal time. So basically, we’ve been trying to help shape the environment itself through laws and regulations.

And we’ve been trying to make sure the best practices, whether they’re operating practices or health and safety practices are understood by everyone in the environment. And so in that respect, where we’re similar to our sister associations, including AsBAA just working to make sure that we are getting the best information available, and the necessary information available to all of the business aviation operators throughout the world so that our industry can be as safe and healthy and secure as long as possible.

Jeffrey C. Lowe (03:03)

And you mentioned that you’re disseminating a lot of this information to the members and so on. Since we have the opportunity, where can we find that? Is it on the website?

Ed Bolen (03:18)

It is on the website. All the information we have can be found by going to NBAA Coronavirus Webpage . And just by going to that web page, you will be able to get a full catalogue of the things that we have written about, articles we’ve covered, webinars we’ve hosted. And there’s really a wealth of information, most of it generated by the community itself and people within the community that are finding this is what works for them. We’re trying to make that widely available.

As I said, we’re sending out news on a daily basis and we’re doing at least three webinars per week. So, we’re working very hard to be very proactive, and understanding what the operating environment is, what the challenges are, and then the best ways to meet those challenges and conduct safe and secure operations.

Jeffrey C. Lowe (04:31)

Great resources for everyone. And I gather it’s the website and logging on there and getting to that, in that particular COVID-19 section, you don’t need to log on as a member?

Ed Bolen (04:44)

No, NBAA is a website available to everybody.

Jeffrey C. Lowe (04:51)

Any issues that you see still out there and that you’re focusing on and trying to find solutions for? Any red herrings out there? Because it seems like you guys have a good handle on it and like I said, are responding to the industry great, with three webinars every week and so on and so forth. Anything you see out there that’s still coming down the coming down the rails that you’re still trying to wrestle to the ground.

Ed Bolen (05:19)

Well, the challenges that we face are related to any unknowns related to COVID. So for example, if this goes on for a prolonged basis, then the challenges that come from either kind of not flying an airplane routinely, or some of the things I talked about extending medical license, or training, currency proficiency testing, those become harder as it goes on longer. And of course, it can also create a bottleneck when we get to the other side and the extensions have run out.

You have a kind of pent up demand that we’re hoping the flight training organizations, the medical organizations can all kind of anticipate and prepare for, but, you know, I think we’re just looking to really get to the other side and see the openness that we’ve enjoyed. But it is interesting to see how nimble, flexible, and professional this particular industry is in meeting this challenge. And it’s not surprising because we’re an industry that plots and plans methodically to make sure our trips are safe. And we always have alternatives and we have redundancies built-in, but it really does show how the DNA of this industry helps us prepare for surprises on any journey. COVID-19 has certainly been a surprise and it certainly caused us to alter our flight plan.

Jeffrey C. Lowe (07:10)

Yeah, I agree as you say it’s kind of in our DNA, but well said NBAA membership. We’re obviously members for many years. I don’t know if you feel you get fair representation from here in the Asia region, maybe a shameless opportunity for you to plug the organization and try to get more people to join the organization. Again, what benefits do you think that the NBAA holds being a member for someone out here in Asia in particular?

Ed Bolen (07:48)

Well, I think the value of organizations like NBAA and AsBAA is that it can bring together an entire industry and make it a community and allow people to share each other’s experiences. So, you know, it helps if you are a traveler to know what other travelers have experienced what they’ve learned and been able to take advantage of that.

And so being part of the NBAA and AsBAA and other organizations allows people to tap into a wealth of experience. It doesn’t mean that it is the only way to do something. But it is helpful to know the lessons. Pilots, when they fly, do pilot report where they talk about: ‘this is where I’m flying and this is what I’m experiencing right here right now’. And others can listen to that and use that to their benefit.

So I think that’s really what NBAA does, it makes available to all what the best practices are, what the best of the best are doing that nothing is you must do it this way, but it is all experience that gets passed on. We’ve always expected that international operators, wherever they are, will take the best practices and make them their own. So, we would expect business aviation in Asia to reflect some of the international practices but also have Asian characteristics. So, we would encourage people to be part of the international business aviation community by belonging to multiple associations, including AsBAA, NBAA, and to share the best of the whole world in business aviation.

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