LaHood Supports GA At Wichita Rally

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Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a rally of about 2,000 general aviation workers at the Cessna factory in Wichita, Kan., on Monday that he will advocate for GA in Washington. "I am proud to stand with you, to work with you and to fight with you to make sure that general aviation ... continues to flourish," he said. "You will be one of the leaders in helping the global economy pick up. ... I believe the industry's efforts are crucial to President Obama's goal of doubling exports within five years." The crowd also heard from industry leaders, and state and local officials. Cessna CEO Jack Pelton told The Associated Press that LaHood met privately with GA executives before the rally and expressed support for the industry. "You couldn't ask for a better outcome," Pelton said. LaHood also said he would lobby President Obama to visit Wichita to learn about the GA industry.

Pelton and other industry executives asked LaHood to help them work more efficiently with the FAA to certify new aircraft and to streamline the regulations that govern the export of GA aircraft, the AP said. The rally was organized by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association in partnership with Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft, Bombardier Learjet and general aviation suppliers throughout Kansas. The general aviation industry supports 1.2 million jobs in the U.S. and contributes more than $150 billion to the nation's economy, according to GAMA.