NBAA President & CEO Ed Bolen on the Social & Economic Impacts of Business Aviation

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NBAA President & CEO Ed Bolen on how lawmakers and government support provide for business aviation, the social & economic impacts of business aviation and the business jet as a business tool.

Jeffrey C. Lowe  (00:11)

So I think it’s fair to say, when there have been issues that – if you – will need to be taken up to ‘the hill’, the lawmakers and so on have been receptive to the industry and making sure that what we [business aviation] need is certainly something that gets addressed and solutions, I guess, working together with solutions have been found.

Ed Bolen  (00:34)

We’re very fortunate that a lot of lawmakers in the United States – and this has been built up over decades – have seen how important business aviation is: both to our national transportation system and to our economy. And so, there is a broad widespread recognition that business aviation means jobs and economic opportunity. We have a very sensitive government. And you know, one of the things candidly, we’ve been so encouraged about in China, for example, is how the government in the 12th five year plan, the 13th five year plan has been very forward looking in talking about the value of general aviation and the good jobs, the pilot jobs, the technician jobs, and the value of airports going forward. And I think that’s one of the things that through the course of ABACE, we’ve been able to see dramatic growth in the number of airports in China. We don’t have what we need, but we’ve certainly come a long way from when we started,

Jeffrey C. Lowe  (02:01)

I mean, as you said, the awareness that you have in the US is something that has been built up over extended period of time. I don’t think there are shortcuts, but I think probably you know better than any, if you’re going to try to get government support, what are the basic necessities that you need to have? What do you want to have in that briefcase when you head into the offices to make sure that you get the opportunity to come back again, and you start explaining to them what our industry is all about? What do you need that?

Ed Bolen  (02:45)

Well, I think we talk about a couple of different things. We certainly talk about jobs, that kind of really good jobs that are available in business aviation, a lot of people recognize that there are good pilot jobs, even good technician jobs. But what you and I know, and a lot of other professionals know is that that’s just the beginning. There are jobs in finance. There are jobs in journalism. There are all kinds of ways for people to take their core passions, that may be in sales or technology or management and apply that in a field that really does so much good because it creates jobs. But also, because it brings economic development everywhere.

There’s a saying throughout the world that’s well known: A kilometer or two of roadway gets you a kilometer or two, whereas a kilometer or two of runway can open up the entire world. And so when you look at it in that way, and recognize, the reach and the power of business aviation for all kinds of purposes. I think we’ve seen in the United States that if there is a natural disaster, an earthquake or hurricane, something like that, business aviation can respond quickly to a national emergency. It also can respond quickly in a medical emergency, whether it’s a car crash or a cancer treatment, whatever it is, business aviation can reach places. It can move quickly. It can move people. It can move organs for transplant. It is just a remarkable industry and if people who love – I don’t know graphic design. There’s a way to use your graphic design skills in an industry like aviation, which can do so much good for the world. So, I think that’s the important thing is this is a great industry. And once policymakers and opinion leaders understand that we can create jobs, economic development respond to humanitarian needs, then what we often find is the policymakers, the opinion leaders want to know how they can encourage and promote the rapid development of our industry because we all want those benefits.

Jeffrey C. Lowe  (05:46)

So, you need the economic impact study. And as you say, then there’s the humanitarian side as well.

Ed Bolen  05:53

Yeah, and I think that those are just the realities of our industry that sometimes get overlooked. We’ve all seen the mischaracterizations of our industry. But I think what is missed sometimes is the utility of our industry, and the importance of the industry and the good of our industry. And so, we make sure that people don’t define us by one or 2%. But look at the industry as a whole and see the tremendous job creation and economic development, humanitarian services and so forth. And that’s really fundamental to our overall ability to grow and continue to bring those inherent benefits forward.

We recognize that the business airplane is a business tool. It’s a tool that can allow you to turn travel time into productive work time. It can reduce the time out of office. It can move people who can discuss private matters in private and it allows you to move products as well. Maybe you’ve got equipment that is too big to go in a cargo hold or too sensitive to go in a cargo hold – all of that helps to find business aviation, which we have found is sometimes the best way to accomplish a mission. It’s really the only way to accomplish the mission. So, there’s clearly a need for business aviation. It serves a very important niche. And we want to make sure everybody understands the inherent value in this tool, and when used appropriately, it can just do great thing.

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