The leaders of several of general aviation's main advocacy groups came together this week to discuss the challenges expected in the year ahead, set priorities, and commit to cooperation. At a leadership conference hosted by the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) in San Antonio, Texas, on Tuesday, NATA President James Coyne joined AOPA President Craig Fuller, NBAA President Ed Bolen and GAMA President Pete Bunce in an effort to find ways to coordinate lobbying efforts on behalf of GA. "We cannot forget what we did in 2009 when it comes to standing up for GA," Fuller said. The groups have been working together this year more than they used to. "By working together a lot has been accomplished, and we got more people to the table to discuss our issues," Fuller said. AOPA listed several priorities that the groups plan to work on this year: securing long-term funding for the FAA, fighting the prospect of user fees, facilitating air transportation modernization, recovering from a recession, and correcting public misconceptions about the value of GA.
Fuller said the key to success in 2010 will be to get outside Washington and reach out to the rest of the country. "This year, we will be holding events around the country telling our members that if they care about GA, they must get engaged," he said. Coyne agreed that individual engagement is crucial to effect change. "Authority is going back to the grassroots, and our memberships are more important than ever before," he said. Both AOPA and NATA plan to have a special focus on state and local issues in 2010.