The FAA’s impact on small businesses

How do FAA policies affect small general aviation businesses? That was the focus of a hearing held Wednesday by the U.S. House Small Business Committee, chaired by Congressman Sam Graves (R-Mo).

Speaking up for the industry was John Uczekaj, president and CEO of Aspen Avionics, who testified on behalf of Aspen Avionics and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA).

John UczekajAspen Avionics was founded in 2004 by two aviation enthusiasts in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It now has 47 employees, and its systems have been installed in more than 6,000 general aviation aircraft worldwide. Despite this success, the company has faced challenges in working with the FAA to bring new products to market, Uczekaj noted, adding that additional work required late in one program resulted in unplanned, increased costs to his company.

“To be successful, businesses, and in particular small businesses, need to clearly understand the tasks and be able to expect the FAA to respond in a timely fashion,” Uczekaj said. “The money saved by instituting clear procedures, consistent training, and detailed certification guidelines to FAA personnel would boost productivity, grow the industry, and secure jobs.”

Given the FAA’s limited resources, Uczekaj called on the agency to make more consistent use of the Designated Engineering Representative (DER) program. This program allows the agency to leverage the expertise of companies such as Aspen on certification of tasks, which helps to improve safety, drive innovation, and improve certification efficiency, he said.

In addition, Uczekaj called on Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion — as it did in passing the Small Airplane Revitalization Act — to focus on helping small aviation-related businesses.

Uczekaj’s written comments are available online

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