Those of you who regularly read our magazine are involved in aviation and know how important aviation and the local airports are to your community, state, and our nation, but what about your neighbors, local businesses, and government officials? Do these people know how important general aviation is and in how many ways aviation and airports impact their day-to-day lives?
The Florida Aviation Trades Association represents general aviation businesses in Florida, and our mission is to promote and protect aviation. As part of promoting aviation, we began a program at the last annual conference designed to inform and educate area businesses and government officials about our industry, Beyond the Runway—Why General Aviation Means Business. Our conference was held in St. Augustine, Florida and was a huge success. We are building on that program to present it again in Sarasota, Florida at our June 13-15, 2011 annual conference.
Our goal in publishing this issue is for you to share it with your non-aviation community, so that they can understand that general aviation really means business for them. Contact FATA if you would like more copies sent to you: (321) 383-9662 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A digital version is also available on our website, www.fata.aero.
What Is General Aviation?
General aviation is defined as everything in aviation except commercial airlines and military flying.That leaves a wide range of activity that we all share and from which we benefit.
Disposing The Myth
Too often when the term general aviation is used, people immediately think that it refers to aircraft used by the rich and famous or small aircraft flown by individuals for recreational use. Though it is true that celebrities and individuals use aircraft for convenient air travel, general aviation reaches far beyond celebrities and private aircraft owners. Even airports are accused of existing only to serve the privileged so they have a place to land. Nothing is further from the truth.
Below is a partial list of other operations performed by general aviation aircraft. These operations do have an impact on communities and their residents. Without an airport close by, it would be impossible to have the convenience and accessibility necessary for these operations to be effective.
You and General Aviation
Though most travelers do not have use of general aviation aircraft, everyone’s life is affected positively by general aviation. General aviation is trying to find ways to make use of their aircraft and community airports more affordable to everyone, but the industry still has benefits to everyone. A look at the list of business that use general aviation and companies that provide services by use of general aviation aircraft is long and varied. From the food we eat, emergency medical transport, and morning traffic reports to being able to watch a bird’s eye view of a sporting event transmitted from a blimp, general aviation’s positive impact on everyone’s life is evident everyday.
The Importance of an Airport to Community—Commercial Airport vs. Community Airport
Several years ago the phrase “community airport” became the term used to describe airports that do not have commercial air service. Airports can be the hub of a community, and in some places they already are.
Think of an airport as the exit from the interstate highway. Businesses come to offer products and services to those traveling by automobile at interstate exits. Airports offer the products and service pilots and aircraft need and are the interstate exits for the airways that aircraft fly. When hotels, restaurants, and other businesses see the need for their products and services near a community airport, jobs are created.
Community airports and surrounding businesses can be a center for business travelers looking to hold meetings, seminars, and special events. When companies are looking to relocate a business, one of the most important factors is easy access. A business that uses corporate aircraft for travel will want convenient access to the community. If the closest airport is forty to fifty miles or more away, it is not as attractive as a location that has a community airport (non-commercial) within a few miles of a proposed new business location. Airports are the gateway to your community.
Commercial airports offer scheduled airline service. Commercial airports also have separate services for general aviation aircraft that land there. These private businesses employ thousands of individual across the state.
Use of Aircraft for Business
Businesses that use charter or leased aircraft or have their own flight department do so for the convenience of travel that allows those flying the ability to carry on business in the aircraft.This, coupled with the time savings offered by personal aircraft, is the major reason businesses opt to use this form of transportation. When time is your most valuable asset, it only makes sense to make sure your time is productive. Driving long distances to and from airports, having to arrive an hour or two in advance, having to spend a night on the road when airline flight schedules don’t meet a business owner’s needs—these are a few reasons business aircraft travel is so attractive. Using an aircraft for travel is a business tool that allows the user to be more productive and have more time for things such as family.
Florida has a very proactive Aviation Office within the Florida Department of Transportation. Their website offers information about commercial aviation and general aviation. In March 2010, a statewide aviation economic impact study was completed. The study found general aviation airports in Florida are responsible for the following:
The FDOT economic impact study concluded that total aviation activities in Florida support almost 1.2 million jobs and that these jobs have an annual payroll of $38.8 billion. The annual economic impact of aviation-related activities in Florida is estimated at $114.7 billion.
Florida has 19 scheduled commercial service airports and 111 public-use general aviation airports. The extensive general aviation airport system allows easy access to all of Florida. Florida could not survive without good air service, both commercial and general aviation. Aviation keeps Florida moving.
Be an Advocate
After the Annual conference, FATA decided to take the Beyond the Runway Program one step further and developed the Aviation Advocate Membership. Membership is $95 annually and is for individuals and business not involved in aviation but who want to be a advocates. They receive our magazine, Florida Aviation Business, our weekly e-news, and are listed on our website as a friend and advocate for aviation in their community. Visit www.fata.aero to join.