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National Flight Training Association launches in Washington, DC
The new aviation trade group represents flight training academies seeking a unified voice on national aviation issues impacting flight training.
NFTA CEO Lee Collins.

Washington, DC-based aviation trade association the National Flight Training Association (NFTA) has been set up to actively represent a network of US-based professional flight training providers seeking a unified voice on aviation industry matters that impact flight academies.

The NFTA is led by CEO Lee Collins, a former career commercial airline pilot and flight training professional. He is an accomplished industry leader whose resume includes a number of leadership and visionary roles, including serving as president of an airline industry trade association. His track record of success in airline safety and aviation legislative and government affairs spans more than 20 years.

“There are more than 600 FAA-termed 'pilot schools' in the US, yet there is a void in the conversation when it comes to actively including these flight training academies in national discussions on crucial issues impacting aviation in the United States,” says Collins. “With the National Flight Training Association, organisations that help train the next generation of pilots will have a seat at the table and a voice in Washington. The ongoing pilot shortage has made it clear that the aviation industry, which is critical to the US economy, is in a fragile state and needs direction from a variety of stakeholders, including flight training organisations of all sizes. Legislation that impacts the flight training industry must be informed, in part, by that industry to fully understand its ramifications.”

NFTA has five founding board members, elected to serve a three year term:

- Sarasota, Florida-based Cirrus Aviation vice president Nayda Cattin is NFTA vice president, government affairs;

- Lincoln, Nebraska-based Ignite Flight Academy president and founder Bill Heckathorn is NFTA vice president, membership;

- Orlando, Florida-based Echo Charlie Aviation designated pilot examiner and president Ed Comisky is NFTA secretary and treasurer;

- Fort Myers, Florida-based Paragon Flight Training president and owner Christopher Schoensee is NFTA vice president, marketing; and

- Georgia-based Lanier Flight Center president captain Troy E Wheeler, Jr is NFTA board president.

“The time has come for the flight training industry to assume its necessary place as a leading stakeholder in the aviation world,” says Wheeler. “Our leadership team is without rival, and we intend to have an immediate impact on issues involving our nation's critical aviation infrastructure.”

The agenda for NFTA's first year will focus on an array of critical issues intended to produce the safest, most efficient and most cost-effective training for future pilots in the US. Collins says the issue-driven agenda is strong, and NFTA is perfectly positioned to act immediately in pursuit of its goals.

“NFTA will represent our members' best interests with a strong and united voice in the national dialogue. We will be aggressive in our timelines and a trusted partner with other organisations, regulators and our legislative bodies to effect real change now,” he continues. “For more than 10 years, Congress has called for the industry, along with the FAA, to produce the world's finest aviators and do so quickly to meet demand, while simultaneously using technology to maximise efficiency and reduce costs. Our member organisations are uniquely positioned to do just that.”

NFTA has already attracted more than two dozen members, and dynamic flight training academies are encouraged to join the organisation to have a vote and voice in national aviation conversations.

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