Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The major issues affecting Wichita's aviation industry are the focus of an "On-Air Summit" Tuesday.
The summit brought together leaders of several of the major trade associations for general and business aviation.
The issues of the day impacting Wichita's leading industry are discussed by the very leaders whose jobs include going over and even trying to guide aviation policies coming out of Washington, D.C.
"People are saying, 'Gosh, when is the economy going to turnaround?"
That, no doubt, is the leading question on the minds of those in aviation, particularly here in the air capital. It's one of the many issues discussed by the heads of 5 major aviation trade associations at the Second Annual Wichita Aero Club "On Air Summit."
General Aviation Manufacturers Association President Pete Bunce said, "We know the top end of the market's already turned around. When does the bottom end of the market turn around? We should have seen that recovery already in the piston market, and we have not seen that yet."
GAMA's Pete Bunce says in the past, recoveries in piston plane sales preceded recovery in the business jet market. The fact that piston sales are still low, is troubling. "We're not seeing the type of robust recovery that we've seen after previous recessions."
As the thousands of laid off aviators in Wichita can attest to, this is a stubborn downturn. "It's much further delayed than what we originally anticipated in a normal economic model. Until the economy gets healthy as a whole, general aviation isn't going to get healthy?"
But the reality is in a much bigger picture. The health of general aviation is largely tied to the economy. And, Salina native Ed Bolen says the economy of late has only grown at about a 2% annual rate. Bolen says it needs to grow at least a 3% rate to stimulate more plane sales.
Several other aviation issues were also discussed including the need to get more people to become pilots. The nation will be facing a severe pilot shortage if their numbers don't increase soon.