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Member Update: Initiative to Economically Regulate FBOs
Early in 2017, the FAA requested NATA comment upon documents provided to the agency by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) asserting that FBOs and airports are maximizing their respective revenue streams in a manner that is unfair to pilots. 

In response to AOPA’s initial allegations, NATA presented a state of the aviation business sector overview to the FAA. The overview, developed with the assistance of FBO and air charter members, discusses the costs of operating airport businesses and the many variables that go into determining its pricing structure — including capital invested, lease duration, fuel volume, personnel expenses, hours of operation, and traffic types. The FAA is in the process of reviewing comments from other stakeholders and will contact us should they have any follow-up questions.

On March 30th, AOPA subsequently announced it will request the FAA either require FBOs to provide access to ramps and facilities or airports to provide pilots with free public ramp space. The announcement chose to attack the FAA for requesting comment on AOPA’s call for economic regulation of FBOs and even criticized NATA for bringing AOPA’s eleven-month campaign to the attention of the aviation business community and other industry stakeholders. Despite claims to the contrary, AOPA’s documents likens FBOs to public utilities and requests the agency examine oversight mechanisms in other industries as possible models — a pure and straightforward move toward economic regulation — borne out by its March 30th announcement.

Importantly, there are existing FAA mechanisms to address situations where an FBO or airport is violating grant assurance requirements to furnish services on a “reasonable, and not unjustly discriminatory, basis to all users thereof.” Neither NATA nor its members support those violating that important assurance, which would also represent a breach of faith with their customers.

NATA has a long and proud history of working productively with those in the pilot community. However, on this important matter the two associations have significantly different positions. Among other things, the AOPA proposal requires FBOs to assume the security and safety liabilities associated with their presence — without compensation. Questions of whether or how much FBOs may assess their customers should be dictated by the free market — not imposed by law or regulation.

The FBO community loves aviation and recognizes the difficult position many in the general aviation pilot community themselves in today, particularly its piston segment. We have heard from many FBOs regarding how they go out of their way to support the needs of general aviation pilots, even at the expense to their bottom-line.  If you have such a story, please contact us today

NATA will continue to meet the rhetoric of AOPA with facts in support of free enterprise and will remain the leading voice of aviation business.

NATA 2017 Regional Advanced Line Service Workshops
Registration is now open for 2017 Regional Advanced Line Service workshops. The next ALS workshop will be held on May 23 & 24 in Reno, NV. The registration fee is only $225/person for this 2-day event and there’s limited seating so don’t hesitate! Click here to register.

New NATA Program Makes Part 135, 91 and 91K Operator Training Accessible and Economical
The NATA Part 135/91 Training Center is a new training resource available to air charter, Part 91 and fractional operators. Developed by industry experts, the NATA Part 135/91 Training Center provides aircraft operators a standardized, trusted and economical system to train their entire team. The system is offered by subscription with unlimited access for a fixed annual fee.

For a full listing of available courses and more information on the NATA Part 135/91 Training Center, click here

Blogs
 

Update 2017 FAA Authorization Legislation

In 2017, Congress must develop another FAA reauthorization bill.  FAA bills are typically of multi-year duration and are the means by which Congress establishes aviation policy, makes FAA programs - including airport funding - eligible for federal funding (appropriations), and determines the levels of air transportation taxation.  Historically, this bill provides the aviation business community the means to advance a common-sense, pro-aviation business agenda.  It also poses potential risks to our community as other stakeholders advance their own agendas.

ATC Corporation

By far the greatest risk to the general aviation community is the renewed debate on the airlines’ proposal to create an air traffic control corporation.  President Trump’s recently released budget blueprint indicated his administration’s interest in the airline proposal.

Such a corporation would be funded by user fees and its operations dominated by the airlines.  While some segments of GA may be exempt from user fees, under a proposal that passed a House committee last year, charter operations would be expected to pay these yet to be determined fees set by their competitors.  However, the general aviation community has other concerns that go well beyond user fees: 

- An ATC corporation will place GA in constant peril from efforts by most major airlines to cost shift and deny GA access to airspace and airports;
- The proposal will undermine the national air transportation system by denying rural America access to cutting-edge technology; and
- A corporation will saddle the traveling public with ever-increasing fees.

NATA is hard at work educating Members of Congress and their staffs on the detrimental impact that an independent air traffic control corporation would have on the Part 135 community, other NATA member companies, and the entire GA community. 

"Uber in the Sky"

Another potential issue that could be raised as part of the FAA bill is an attempt to expand the ability of private pilots to fly passengers that are willing to “share expenses.” Proponents are attempting to create “Uber in the sky” websites (examples: Flytenow, AirPooler, and others) that deliberately bypass the FAA’s safety net of required pilot training and aircraft maintenance for commercial flights.  For example, private pilots with as little as 35 hours of flight time, who have no requirement for minimum liability insurance, and are not required to hold ratings permitting flight in poor weather, could carry passengers for hire.

Similar to the ATC corporatization issue, in 2016 a House committee approved such a proposal.  Despite rejection of the business model as unsafe and illegal by the FAA, the U.S. Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court, which declined to review the proposal, the proponents are again seeking a legislative fix in Congress. 

NATA is working with general aviation pilot groups to educate Members of Congress and their staffs on the rules governing legal and safe flight sharing and how legislation now sought by flight sharing services will undermine flying safety.

A Pro-Active Aviation Business Agenda

FAA bills are also an opportunity to advance a common-sense, pro-aviation business agenda.  For example, the last multi-year FAA bill included an NATA proposal to improve the consistency of regulatory interpretation across the FAA’s regions and district offices.  The NATA staff, working in coordination with its policy committees, is advancing proposals to assist its member companies to operate safely and more efficiently, including:

- Recommendations related to consistency of regulatory interpretation;
- Combatting illegal charter;
- Increasing FAA’s use of delegated authority; and 
- Clarifying that federal air transportation taxes are not applicable to aircraft management services.

For more information about this and other issues related to the FAA please contact Rebecca Mulholland, Director of Legislative Affairs, at rmulholland@nata.aero.