With the United States facing unprecedented challenges from the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has joined forces with four other aviation groups to inform lawmakers the nation's general aviation industry, including business aviation, is prepared to assist as needed to respond to the crisis.
“As our nation works to respond to the threat of the coronavirus, we wanted to make ourselves available to assist in any way possible,” reads the associations' letter to Elaine Chao, secretary of the US Department of Transportation. “We stand ready to work with the administration so that the important role our industry can play in responding and mitigating the many challenges of this health issue is fully realised.”
The groups further note the diversity of the nation's GA and business aircraft fleet, the industry's ability to operate from more than 5,000 GA airports across the country and its extensive experience with responding to humanitarian crises, from transporting time-sensitive supplies, medical specimens and equipment to flying critical care patients and medical personnel.
“Business aviation has always been at the forefront of relief efforts in times of need and to assist citizens and communities in their most challenging times,” adds NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “Just as we've joined together as a nation to face this challenging and evolving situation, I know that our industry is prepared and eager to provide whatever assistance we can to fight the spread of COVID-19.”
In addition to NBAA, the letter was signed by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; the General Aviation Manufacturers Association; Helicopter Association International, and; the National Air Transportation Association.
The signatory groups have also adopted “proactive measures to inform operators, manufacturers and maintenance providers about appropriate coronavirus response actions,” and committed to sharing the latest information and best practices with their respective members in responding to COVID-19, including regular consultations with subject matter experts on the situation.
NBAA and several industry groups are also urging Congress to preserve general aviation's vital contribution to the US economy as it considers a relief package to support the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
General aviation is crucial to the country's transportation network, serving as a lifeline for many communities, and Part 135 operators conducting almost all air ambulance flights in the US The general aviation community supports 1.2 million jobs and $247 billion in economic impact, but under the economic pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many operators may not survive without financial assistance, according to a letter the groups sent to congressional leaders this week.
“As you consider a potential relief package for FAR Part 121 air carriers, we request that those same programmes be made available for companies conducting operations under FAR Parts 135 and 91 subpart K. Programmes that would provide the most support to our industry include medium to long-term liquidity assistance and relief from air transportation excise taxes,” the letter states. “With the majority of business aviation air carriers being private companies, their access to capital is more constrained. In the current environment, private equity markets are not able to provide financing, eliminating an important source of liquidity for the industry.
“The business aviation industry is resilient and has a proven track record of providing humanitarian assistance during times of need,” according to the letter. “However, the air carriers within our industry are facing unprecedented challenges, and we appreciate your consideration of our requests. We look forward to being engaged in discussions on a potential relief package for all air carriers and thank you for your leadership.”
In addition to NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen, the letter was signed by Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) president Mark Baker, Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) CEO and chairman of the board Jack Pelton, General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) president and CEO Pete Bunce, Helicopter Association International (HAI) president and CEO James Viola and National Air Transportation Association (NATA) president and CEO Tim Obitts.