The Future Of GA, By Voices Shaping It…

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Klapmeier, Raburn And Johnson Speak

What do those building piston singles, very light jets (VLJs) and light sport aircraft (LSA) have in common? Everything ... and nothing ... and that's why it's so important they pull in the same direction. During a general session at AOPA Expo (followed by a news conference) in Tampa on Friday, Cirrus CEO Alan Klapmeier, Eclipse boss Vern Raburn and Dan Johnson, the spokesman for LSA manufacturers, shared a podium and bounced theories on everything from why we fly to what will keep us flying. "If we can change the way people think about travel, the future is gold," Raburn told reporters in the follow-up news conference. "The real competition is the automobile, not the airlines," Klapmeier told the crowd earlier. "We sell time." But they're also selling fun and that begins with easy, affordable access to aviation via the Sport Pilot/LSA initiative, added Johnson. Klapmeier said aviation has evolved into an exclusive club that doesn't welcome new members. To prosper, he said the barriers, some artificial, some practical, must be made less daunting so that general aviation can again become something that people see as a potential part of their lives. "We need to constantly innovate. We cannot be exclusive," he said. "We need to grow this industry."