A few moments with Jack Pelton

Bonus depreciation and research and development tax credits. Those were two pieces of legislation Cessna’s Jack Pelton, president and CEO mentioned in response to my query, following his June 21 speech to the Aero Club of Washington.

He spoke of the myriad challenges we in aviation face. FAA reauthorization (long-term, not patchwork); cancellation of aircraft orders; the size of the aviation economy in the U.S. (1.2 million jobs, $320 billion annual economic output, trade surplus, transportation for many remote communities); falling student pilot starts; and fees placed on California-based flight schools. All have been discussed many times by many people.Jack Pelton, President and CEO, Cessna AircraftIn reading through Jack’s speech [full text here], I found, “This is not what we need for aviation right now; we need legislation that fosters and stimulates our industry.”

That’s interesting. While much of what he’d said prior is universally agreed upon (for the most part), I wondered what specific legislation he’d suggest. So I sent him an email asking the same.

He saw my email why on vacation (blasted cell phones) and gave me a call (thank you for your time Jack). “From a manufacturers perspective, I’d like to see incentive-based legislation,” he started. “Giving FBOs the ability to buy new aircraft requires we get bonus depreciation legislation complete.” That seems to make sense.

Further, in case anyone wondered, aircraft manufacturers (and their suppliers) spend huge sums of money on research and development. “R&D Tax Credits would allow us to spend more on R&D” which would allow ALL manufacturers to bring better product to market. Since many thousands of companies in scores of industries conduct R&D, working with multiple industry groups to push this topic might work for the betterment of all. “Many country’s offer this kind of tax credit support,” Jack continued. Perhaps we should as well.

Another area we discussed was non-legislative. Advocacy for flight training, but coming from the education side of the house. Flying is a multi-disciplinary activity. Math, science, engineering, visualization, computers, coordination, and more. Advocating for the use of aviation in education might be a catalyst to more people looking skyward. More on this in a future column.


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