Jack J. Pelton, chairman, president and CEO of Cessna Aircraft Company, said all aviation stakeholders must work together to ensure the health of the industry. Pelton made the remarks at the monthly luncheon meeting of the Aero Club of Washington D.C.
He said the negative rhetoric around the general aviation industry has died down thanks to the combined efforts of the GA stakeholders. “This cooperation we’ve experienced in general aviation must span all areas of aviation,” he said, “and the Future of Aviation Advisory Committee launched by DOT Secretary La Hood is an excellent start.” Pelton represents general aviation on the committee.
In his remarks, Pelton sited three key issues that will most impact the aviation industry: the pilot population, environmental concerns and the Next Generation Air Transportation System.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration expects the number of student pilots nationwide to fall to a 10-year low of about 69,000 next year. That will equate to a nearly 30 percent decrease during the first decade of the 21st century.
“This is a problem for all of us in aviation, and all of us should be part of the solution,” Pelton told the group of aviation industry leaders. “Fewer pilots equate to less business for all of us, and it threatens the strong, sustainable aviation system our nation counts on.”
“Gone are the days when the military was producing all the pilots the airlines could absorb, or when a broader GI Bill funded expansive flight training for veterans returning to civilian life,” he said. “We need legislation that fosters and stimulates our industry,” he added.
On the environment, Pelton said aviation has established an outstanding track record in reducing its environmental impact. “The market demands efficiency. And with greater fuel efficiency comes reduced emissions. Still, we recognize there is much more we must do,” he said.
“The philosophy of the Lindbergh Foundation has it right – we must pursue policies and practices that balance progress and technology with environmental sensitivity,” he said.
Pelton said the same considerations need to be made as the government revamps the national airspace and develops the next generation air traffic management system, commonly called NextGen, although he is encouraged by the level of cooperation between industry and government in early stages.
“It’s encouraging to see this type of cooperation and I hope it will continue as we look to deploy components of the NextGen program,” said Pelton. “That is the only way to truly ensure the safety, efficiency, and economic and environmental benefits we are all counting on from NextGen.”
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