Our airplanes, no matter what we fly, often become political targets.
You know the drill. A Piper Cub is the toy of a fat cat when the local airport comes under fire. And business jets have been vilified by many in the government, particularly since the Great Recession began in 2008.
Personal aviation, which to me means you are flying for your own reasons on your own schedule, is a very important industry in the U.S. Thousands and thousands of Americans work at building, supporting, and flying general aviation airplanes. We deserve as much support as any other activity. Maybe even more support because aviation is an important industry and activity in which the U.S. still leads the world.
But how can we help to change the perception of personal aviation? One way is to show how private aviation can grow and strengthen the economy and create jobs.
To help prove the case for private flying, the NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) conducted a large study to compare how companies that use private airplanes have performed since the recession hit four years ago.
The results are impressive. Companies that operate airplanes have outperformed in every way those who don’t fly. Airplane using companies dipped 20 percent less during the depths of the recession and recovered about 40 percent faster by the end of 2011 compared to companies that don’t fly.
Similar studies over the years always show that businesses that use private aviation always outperform similar companies that don’t. But would that pattern hold in turbulent time such as we have experienced since 2008? The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, the airplane advantage is even more pronounced during difficult economic times.
The reason this study is so important to all of us is that business flying is the backbone of general aviation. When companies use a local airport to further business, that airport becomes much more important to the entire community. All of us benefit when a GA airport is improved, maintained, and valued by local government and the community.
Business flying also supports the FBO network and fuel supply infrastructure. It would be very difficult to stay in business as an FBO without the fuel sales business flying brings to GA airports.
And the support and manufacturing of airplanes and spare parts relies on the higher utilization of business travel.
All of us who fly know the value of traveling on our own schedule, using the airports we want instead of the few served by airlines, and being able to be flexible and free from the rigid procedures of the airlines and TSA. But the public and politicians either don’t know how important personal aviation is, or they ignore its value.
NBAA calls its study and its support for private flying No Plane No Gain. That’s a perfect slogan. Those who fly gain, but so does a big and important industry. Private flying provides thousands of American jobs directly, and the study proves that airplanes help create jobs as the companies that use airplanes grow.
Private flying is the issue, no matter what or why you fly. When we fly the economy wins and I hope politicians at all levels will understand that and help private flying grow and stop vilifying a very important industry.