As we hang a new calendar on the wall, it occurs to me how much difference just one year can make.
For example, at the start of 2014, we were contending in Washington with a controversial proposal from the FAA – introduced at the close of the previous year – that the agency planned to begin mandating that all pilots with a body mass index of 40 or greater be screened for obstructive sleep apnea before receiving a medical certificate. Outside Washington, it appeared that the economy might be gaining some long-awaited traction, although that outcome wasn’t yet certain.
By the time the business aviation community came together in Orlando last October for NBAA2014, signs of a stepped-up level of optimism were visible everywhere, most notably in the wide array of new products and services on display.
Today, at the beginning of 2015, I believe our industry is stronger now than at any time since 2007. Demand for business aircraft continues to increase across the board. Fuel sales are also on the rise, flight activity is holding steady, the inventory of used aircraft is declining, and prices for previously owned aircraft are stabilizing.
However, that does not mean we won’t continue to face significant challenges. A variety of issues, from the coming FAA reauthorization debate (which could prompt renewed proposals for user fees, and efforts to privatize the ATC system), to onerous tax legislation, and even new “pop up” challenges like the one we saw with the FAA’s sleep apnea proposal, could all potentially affect the industry’s future.
So, as we look to 2015, it is clear to me that policy outcomes for business aviation will fare, at least in part, on how galvanized our community can continue to be when faced with political challenges.
Of course, we at NBAA will continue to work with federal officials every day, reminding legislators and regulators of the value of business aviation. However, continued vigilance will be required, and there may be times when everyone in the industry will need to mobilize in order to impact legislative and regulatory outcomes. When such moments arrive, I know we can count on the business aviation community to make its voice heard.