General Aviation Seeks Help In Pulling Out Of Economic Downturn

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

General aviation companies are looking for help to pull out of their tailspin. A meeting was held Wednesday for the Wichita Aero Club, where members heard from the leader of the largest aircraft association.

Anyone paying attention to the news knows business aviation has put up with assault and battery from some members of Congress this year.

After automakers flew their jets to Washington asking for bailout money, some members of Congress were ready to force companies needing help to sell any and all aircraft, no matter how they're used.

That would put more Wichitans out of work.

Craig Fuller knows Washington politics. He was a member of the Reagan administration.

Fuller recently started his new role as president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the largest aviation association.

He told a packed audience of aviators at the Wichita Aero Club they have to work harder to get their message out.

"If you are not defining yourself, you are being defined by your adversaries and I think that's gone on too long," Fuller said.

He says too often the enemies of aviation are defining the industry such as the perception that all planes are luxury items.

"Those messages have helped feed this mentality in Washington that somehow planes are perks. And if that notion continues to thrive in Washington we have a big problem. We've got to turn that around," Fuller said.

It's a message the industry has got to get out or it'll be facing even more stiff head-winds trying to pull out of the current downturn and get back not only to stability, but eventually returning to a growth pattern.

"And we do believe that manufacturing will return to the levels it's been at," Fuller said.

Fuller says he's encouraged by some of his first private meetings with members of the Obama administration, saying they're listening to industry concerns.

He reminds us that aviation has gone through these down cycles before, but has always recovered.

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