Many of our pre-COVID priorities remained the same, such as increasing sustainability awareness, combatting illegal charter operations, developing SMS education, and fighting onerous restrictions like NFPA 409 and NFPA 407. As the realities of COVID-19 became apparent, however, NATA’s number one priority was ensuring that aviation businesses remained operational and that the industry retained its skilled workforce. NATA has worked diligently to educate lawmakers and the public on the unique environment of the aviation business industry and the numerous essential services it provides. We also worked hard to communicate and showcase how aviation businesses and general aviation airports have stepped forward and helped their communities combat COVID and serve as an essential resource to this critical time.
NATA worked to ensure that air carriers and contractors were included in each round of the Payroll Support Program (PSP), as well as educated our members on other relief programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). NATA also advocated for public-private partnerships between airports and their tenants for rent relief and other forms of assistance. NATA’s regulatory and legislative teams raised awareness of the unique needs of our members, resulting in important FAA exemptions that extended the timeframe for a check airman to conduct a proficiency or competency check, as well as the deadlines on crew training, to name just a few. We could not be more grateful to the FAA and other agencies for their swift, innovative, and exceptional response to mitigating unconventional circumstances that greatly impacted our members.
Early on, NATA, along with its Coronavirus Task Force and Safety 1st Committee, acted quickly to develop and launch best practices for operations during the pandemic, including the Safety 1st Clean standard. Now, more than 400 aviation business locations have completed the self-certification process, with more joining their ranks each day. As a result, our members, their employees, and their customers will be able to rely on an enhanced level of health safety protocols now and in the future. We don’t see this as a passing need, but as a new standard moving forward.
NATA is a founding member of the Business Aviation Coalition for Sustainable Aviation Fuel and the Council on Sustainable Fuels Accountability, of which I serve as Chairman of the Steering Committee and as Board Chairman, respectively. We are pleased to see recognition of the important work of our members and the coalition in moving the industry toward sustainability goals, including through support of tax incentives that assist sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) promulgation, the release of the updated Sustainable Aviation Fuel Guide, and the production of the recent European Business Aviation SAF Summit. This has been a wonderful team effort with our friends at NBAA, GAMA, IBAC, and EBAA.
Within our membership, NATA provides aviation businesses the guidance and resources to reduce carbon emissions through multiple means, including adoption of SAF, biodiesel, electrification, and solar energy, as well as the use of carbon offsets. In 2020, NATA established an Environment Committee to support the industry’s long-held goal to expand access to aviation while embracing technological advancements and sound policies that promote a cleaner future.
Recently, we announced our commitment to being carbon neutral for 2020 and moving forward. We will accomplish this by evaluating our operations, taking measures to reduce direct and indirect carbon emissions, and investing in independently certified reforestation efforts to offset remaining carbon output. Through this initiative, NATA is taking another step toward a cleaner future by taking an internal look at our own team’s environmental impact. We are not just talking the talk on sustainability – by achieving net-zero carbon emissions in our own operations, we are walking the walk.
As sustainability will be the focus across all U.S. agencies under the current Administration, we encourage members to view the related episode of NATA Real Talk as well as NATA’s new Sustaining the Future video series, and to reach out to NATA and your fuel supplier to discuss how to establish and meet your sustainability goals.
My mantra to the industry has been – and will continue to be – that we are here for you and we want to hear from you the member. We have really breathed life into that ethos over the past year in all of our communications; in the assistance that we’ve provided to all aviation businesses, member or not; and with our small in-person events dotting general aviation airports all over the country. Through our General Aviation Advancing America events and roundtables, we’ve gathered airport and community stakeholders, as well as members of the media, to help tell the story of the immense value of aviation businesses during the pandemic, throughout recovery, and beyond. There has never been a more important time to educate key regional and state influencers on the critical importance of aviation businesses and the essential services they deliver. Helping community members understand the benefits that general aviation provides is imperative to protecting the industry, improving our businesses, and empowering regional growth. NATA stands behind our belief that the best way to get the economy moving is to get Americans back to business – this can be achieved safely, efficiently, and effectively by general aviation businesses. Our doors are always open, and we welcome any feedback or input from our members. If you would like to host a General Aviation Advancing America or roundtable event at your location, please let us know by contacting our Senior Vice President Ryan Waguespack at email@example.com.