Industry Groups Applaud Launch Of GA Caucus In Senate

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Two senators this week said they have formed a General Aviation Caucus and invited other senators to join them (PDF) to ensure support for pilots, aircraft owners, and the aviation industry in the U.S. "General aviation has a presence in every state, and plays a significant role in our economy," said Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, one of the caucus founders. "We're hopeful many of our Senate colleagues will join us in learning more about the importance of this industry." Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., said GA is a critical component of his state's transportation infrastructure. "It helps keep our state connected, supports economic development, and helps our businesses operate efficiently," he said. The two said they plan to hold their first meeting later this fall. So far, Senators James Inhofe, R-Okla., Sam Brownback, R-Kans., and Pat Roberts, R-Kans., have joined the caucus.

GA advocacy groups responded positively to the announcement. "Having the involvement of these senators whose states know the value of GA, and who make use of it themselves, is vitally important to helping others in the Senate better understand all that general aviation contributes to the nation," said AOPA President Craig Fuller. NBAA President Ed Bolen said, "NBAA is delighted at the formation of this caucus, in recognition of the value provided by all of general aviation, including business aviation. We look forward to working with everyone involved with the caucus to promote policies that help all general aviation continue to provide value in every state across the country." Pete Bunce, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, also expressed support. "We truly appreciate the leadership efforts of Senator Begich and Senator Johanns to bring general aviation issues to the attention of the Senate and we look forward to supporting their work," said Bunce. There are over 220,000 GA aircraft and 650,000 certificated pilots in the U.S. General aviation contributes significantly to local economies in many states, generating over $150 billion annually with 1.3 million American jobs directly tied to the industry, Senator Begich said in a news release. A similar GA caucus was formed in the U.S. House of Representatives in April.