National Business Aviation Association President and CEO Ed Bolen recently told the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that the U.S. civil aviation industry remains one of the strongest positive contributors to the nation’s balance of trade, despite the daunting economic challenges that have confronted the industry in recent years.
In testimony he provided at a hearing held by the commission, Bolen pointed to 2010 statistics from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) showing 2,015 GA aircraft made that year, with 1,334 manufactured in the U.S. and 52% of those sold elsewhere, for an export value of almost $5 billion. Those figures, he told commissioners, were down from 1,161 aircraft worth almost $6 billion exported in 2008, reflecting adverse economic conditions.
“No one knows better than you that we are living in a global marketplace,” he told the six UITC commissioners. “And the fact is, aviation has the ability to make face-to-face transportation possible in this global marketplace.” Every culture throughout history has valued face-to-face communication, he said, reminding commissioners that doing face-to-face business in India, Brazil, China, Russia or elsewhere is often possible only by using aviation.
Using a video advertisement produced by NBAA and GAMA for the No Plane, No Gain advocacy campaign, Bolen made the case for business aviation as a job creator, an essential business tool for companies of all sizes, an economic lifeline for small towns, and a critical mode of humanitarian transport.
“Many small and mid-size businesses are located in areas without scheduled airline service,” he said. “Businesses of all sizes require in-person travel for such operations as sales, technical support and other types of customer service. Such trips may call for multiple stops in a short period of time or travel to remote locations.”
He served up the example of the Apogee Medical Group in Phoenix, which serves far-flung rural hospitals in 15 states with teams of hospitalists. The company’s Hawker 800 business jet often leaves its base before dawn and returns long after sunset, with multiple stops in between for unmatched business efficiency. After one trip, company owner Dr. Michael Gregory received a call from an American Express representative worried that his American Exrpess credit card was being used fraudulently. “However, Dr. Gregory assured the customer-service representative that he had indeed rented cars in four different states in one day,” Bolen said.
Bolen closed his testimony by reminding the ITC commissioners that aviation will be the defining mode of transportation in the 21st century. “Two miles of waterway will take a boat two miles,” he said. “Two miles of highway will take a car two miles. Two miles of railway will take a train two miles. Two miles of runway will take an airplane anywhere in the world. That’s our industry. It’s a great one.”
Read the full text of Bolen’s testimony before the U.S. International Trade Commission.