Congress Goes To Wichita For Aviation Hearing

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The Aviation Subcommittee of the U.S. House traveled to Wichita yesterday to hold a field hearing on economic competitiveness in the aviation industry. Peter Bunce, CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), urged committee members to support GA with tax relief and clarified export rules. He also assured the panel that the introduction of very light jets into the airspace system -- expected to begin this year -- will not "clog up the airways." Bunce said the VLJs will stay away from crowded airline hubs and add value to underutilized GA airports. The committee also heard from Jack Pelton, president of Cessna Aircraft, and James Schuster, CEO of Raytheon. All three described the GA industry as healthy and growing, with an increasingly important role in our nationís economy, then explained what support they need from Congress. "Regulatory changes that put an undue financial burden on general aviation, inconsistencies in rule interpretations, and illogical regulatory priorities will eventually cripple our industry," said Pelton. He said delays in FAA aircraft certification are a leading concern for Cessna. Schuster emphasized that it's vital to ensure that FAA funding and resources are allocated in the way that Congress intended. "If the certification of new aviation products becomes onerous or subject to delays in the U.S., the general aviation industry will be severely disadvantaged in the global marketplace. The result will be the loss of our technical leadership, international competitiveness, and ultimately, jobs," he said. Congressional representatives at the hearing were Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), John Mica (R-Fla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Vern Ehlers (R-Mich). The hearing was held at Wichita State University's National Institute for Aviation Research.