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  • November 10, 2023 4:50 PM | Matthew Olafsen (Administrator)

  • April 18, 2022 3:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    With over 150 students, 60 educators, 300+ total attendees, 20 vendors and seven aircraft on display, it is clear CFBAA’s Business Aviation Day was a success and illustrates what a small group of people can do to promote business aviation as a great career. Special thanks to Coordinator Jordan Scales.

    “Our Business Aviation Day was the first of its kind event of this size for any regional business aviation group that we are aware of,” said Vice President Matthew Olafson. “It was open to all high school and college students and teachers from across the state. It was free. And we plan this as an annual event to be developed by our newly formed CFBAA Foundation with all proceeds going to the CFBAA Scholarship Fund.” 

    It was also impressive since students were exposed to the top leaders in the industry including NBAA President Ed Bolen, Embrear Executive Jet CEO Michael Amalfitano, Former NTSB Chair Bob Sumwalt and jetAviva President Emily Deaton who remained throughout the day to network with students providing an unprecedented opportunity to meet top leaders.

    Perhaps the best advice came from Deaton, however. “One thing even pilots should know is there are opportunities in business aviation they can pursue while building their hours,” she said, adding networking is the most important thing they can do. “Working in business aviation while building hours gives you an opportunity to learn the business, identify areas that interest you outside of the flight deck while making a great salary that helps you build time. Right now, at this meeting, you have a network of people who are already invested in your success. We will rally the troops for you because that’s what we do. Our goal is to help you find super great careers.”

    Special thanks to our sponsors Sheltair, Embraer, Textron and Bombardier for helping to make this event happen. Special shout out to Caterers Leslyn Duke-Hussein of Kabin247 for breakfast and Smokey Jay’s BBQ for lunch.

    “This is a relatively small industry,” said CFBAA President David Keys, in opening the event. “Because of that, we forge close relationships that grow over time. You are always a person in the business aviation industry you are never a number as you are in the airlines.”

    Both Bolen and Amalfitano echoed Deaton, stressing the importance of building relationships, saying cultivating relationships is what makes the industry so special. Industry meetings, they said, are like reunions, an opportunity to continue building relationships which quickly become friendships.

    “The best thing about working in this industry is the people,” said Vice President Sales Deb Higgins. “We love being around people who love aircraft and who get high just from being around airports.”  

    “It’s a family,” said National Air Transportation Association Executive Vice President Ryan Waguespack.”

    Bolen added business aviation has the flexibility and creativity for more innovation, adopting emerging technologies. He pointed to regional air mobility and the work being done to move to all sustainable aviation fuels. In addition, he discussed cutting-edge technologies including developments in electric and hydrogen propulsion, all part of the future of aviation.

    More Education-Industry Partnerships

    Given the 50-year tradition of innovation and technology at Embraer, Amalfitano talked about the company’s growing manufacturing and MRO footprint in Florida. However, he noted Embraer offers opportunities across the business aviation spectrum from traditional business aircraft such as Praetors and Phenoms to its leading-edge work on regional air mobility and the fact Melbourne is home to the company’s largest engineering and technology center and business and innovation center.

    “We recently launched educational partnership program to help us attract top talent for high paying jobs that exist today,” he said. “It is a pilot program for six high schools, technology schools and universities. We need people like gamers. We offer opportunities for grants internships and apprenticeships but not just for today’s transport but future transport. Our summer interns are learning about all aspects of business aviation including meteorology and flight dispatch. We offer experiences and community that are truly extraordinary.”

    Amalfitano noted the recent exponential growth of business aviation saying new users used to account for 10-15% of the business but today is over 50% of the market. Similarly, new aircraft buyers once accounted for 15% of purchases but today is over 35%.

    “They are staying with business aviation,” he said. “They didn’t just do it for pandemic which gave them the health centered reason to be a part of it. The double-digit growth in business aircraft market in 2021 now points to an exciting future of growth for manufacturers who have strong backlogs with deliveries scheduled for many years to come.”

    Bolen agreed adding, with all the new users coming into the industry, business and private aviation needs new professionals to meet their demands; new professionals with the insights and energy to help these new entrants move forward.  

    “Embraer is not alone,” added Bolen. “There are hundreds of companies and thousands of jobs in engines, avionics. There are also lots of ways to contribute to business aviation reflecting the interest of anyone who is pursuing degrees in law, finance, marketing, sales, engineering, administration and community planning. What we are doing is multi-dimensional and we need to make you a part of this special community to help you develop and grow and have experiences that will contribute to the industry.”

    Professionalism and Discipline

    Sumwalt, who is now chair of Embry Riddle’s Center for Aviation and Aerospace Safety, discussed other options for aviation careers including advancing the research and implementation of new safety measures to ensure the excellent safety record in the industry is maintained and developed.

    He also discussed the importance of leadership, discipline and professionalism in improving safety. “Leaders keep safety foremost in mind,” he said. “’Safety is a top priority’ may be a worn-out phrase that often doesn’t hold true. But by dedicating yourself to it, will keep us on the journey to keep improving. No matter what is going on in financing, quality control or business, safety always must have a seat at the table. When you are making business decisions, safety needs to be the core value guiding those decisions. Priorities change but core values do not change. What really separates world class organizations from the rest is living those core values and being guided by those values even with the toughest decisions.”

    Not Just About the ‘Front Office’

    Sheltair COO Todd Anderson, Waguespack, and Higgins explained there was more to business aviation than the flight deck and professionals were also needed at fixed base operators like Sheltair and charter companies like Speedbird. Those professions include flight dispatch, maintenance, charter sales, trip support, ground support, real estate specialists, association management, construction, airport management, tenant relations, fuel managers, general managers, catering and client service representatives to handle owners and charter passengers, all of which are necessary for a successful mission.

    “I think about the innovations coming,” said Todd. “Solar hangars, sustainable aviation fuel, new propulsion systems and space tourism. That’s a lot of innovation.”

    In advising students of the best way to get into business aviation, Deaton and Showalter Business Aviation Career Coaching CEO Jenny Showalter saw both passion for aviation and networking as the secret sauce.

    Deaton noted she has given out her personal email at many student events but only three students have followed up, admonishing those attending Business Aviation Day to do better. She also introduced charter brokering as one of the many professions in business aviation. Noting the 750 deliveries annually from manufacturers such as Bombardier, Textron and Embraer, she said over the last five years there have been 5,000 transactions by brokers which means they have a huge impact on the private aviation community.

  • April 14, 2022 4:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    What does a Career Coach do?

    In my case, a career coach is someone with broad business aviation industry knowledge and experience who can support current and aspiring professionals with career decisions and guidance. In addition to one-on-one coaching, the other areas I specialize in are resume writing, LinkedIn profile reviews, and interview prep.

    How should those interested in working with a career coach think about hiring one?

    It is absolutely an investment in themselves! Business aviation is a very niche industry, and it can be hard to find an understanding, knowledgeable, and confidential sounding board. I tell people that if their car is broken, they take it to a mechanic. Career challenges, job search, and professional development sometimes require a tune up too.

    What should people look for in a career coach? Are there certifications so you know you are hiring someone w skilled expertise? 

    There are career coaching certifications available. I am currently working on one now to add to my experience. In a specialized industry like business aviation, my suggestion is to find a coach who understands the language, acronyms, and nuances of the industry.

    Why did you develop your business? What are you hoping to achieve? 

    I feel like Showalter Business Aviation Career Coaching (SBACC) is my full circle career moment. In many ways, I have been training for this throughout my career, starting with FBO experience, industry association work, and Part 91 recruiting, my focus has always been on people. I love this industry and the people in it. If I can be a positive influence on my peers, what better way is there to support business aviation?

    I feel my entire career has been training for this moment. Working as a recruiter, I fostered relationships with candidates and Part 91 clients, wrote resumes, conducted interviews, checked references, worked with HR departments and hiring managers of all kinds, and took part in the negotiation of job offers. However, I do credit leading displaced industry professionals through the outplacement process during the pandemic with honing my skills and planting the seed for SBACC. I was one-on-one with people who had just lost their jobs in a very uncertain time. It was my honor to be a resource to them, guiding them through emotional recovery, job search preparedness, and supporting them all the way through offer acceptance and new employment. The outplacement experience really connected the dots for me.

    What would you say to someone who has applied for a ton of jobs but never gets a response? 

    Have you ever considered hiring a career coach? But seriously, maybe you need someone else to help you identify ways to be more competitive and achieve different results.

    Viewpoint: Is Your Professionalism Fit for Duty

  • March 11, 2022 10:32 AM | Matthew Olafsen (Administrator)

    Orlando, FL, March 3, 2022– With personnel shortages at critical levels in the aviation industry, the Central Florida Business Aviation Association (CFBAA) scheduled a Business Aviation Day April 1 at Daytona Beach International Airport, to link local students and young professionals to careers in the industry – careers that include, but go beyond pilots and aviation maintenance technicians, to finance, flight dispatch, sales, airports, business aviation operations management and airfield facilities management.

    “There has never been a better time to get into aviation, but few people know about the opportunities,” said CFBAA Business Aviation Day Coordinator Jordan Scales. “Business aviation is a major industry in Florida, and, with major aviation universities like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and manufacturers like Melbourne-based Embraer Executive Jets in addition to numerous companies serving the industry, it has a huge footprint in the area. We’ve teamed with local high schools with aviation programs, colleges and universities who are bringing students to explore the many disciplines that make great careers. We also invite young professionals to attend. The idea is to build relationships between students and industry professionals to help them network and build relationships, mentorships and internships.”

    A combination, career fair, educational event and aircraft display, the CFBAA Business Aviation Day includes exhibitors and sponsors include Melbourne-based Satcom Direct and companies such as Unmanned Safety Institute, Sheltair, Speedbird, JetHQ, Embraer Executive Jets, Textron Aviation, Bombardier, Sheltair, JetEast, jetAVIVA, Jet Agency, SmartSky Networks, Charter Flight Group, Jet Genius Holdings among many others.

    CFBAA will be collecting resumes from all attendees, providing them to local aviation employers which means solid career opportunities. In addition, an exhibit area introduces attendees to Central Florida aviation companies and the careers they are offering. 

    Free to all students, educators & faculty members, but $25 for individuals, the event will be held at the Sheltair Fixed Base Operation (FBO) facility at the airport (563 Pearl Harbor Drive, Daytona Beach. FL). It includes breakfast and lunch and speeches from the top people in the industry including National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA) President Ed Bolen and Embraer Executive Jets CEO Michael Amalfitano. Also speaking is jetAviva CEO Emily Deaton and Deb Higgins, vice president-sales for Speedbird, two of the many women executives in the field. Speakers also include Former National Transportation Safety Board Chair Robert Sumwalt, who is now a professor at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Sheltair COO Todd Anderson, Ryan Waguespack, senior vice president of National Air Transportation Association. CFBAA President David Keys, a corporate aircraft pilot, will discuss opportunities for aviators while Business Aviation Career Coach Jenny Showalter will educate attendees on other career opportunities while providing tips to a successful career landing.

     CFBAA has also organized a display of business aviation aircraft for attendees to explore.

    Indicating the importance of Central Florida in business aviation is the fact NBAA holds its annual conference here every other year and is expected to break attendance records at the Orange County Convention Center in October.

    “The key to success in business aviation is building relationships,” said Scales, who is also Aircraft Manager for Clay Lacy Aviation. “CFBAA’s Business Aviation Day provides that opportunity for local students to start building their own relationships. For those of us already in our careers, the Business Aviation Day provides us the opportunity to pay it forward.”

    About CFBAA

    Founded in 2019, CFBAA has grown to over 260 members and member organizations and is designed to empower the local and regional business aviation community by providing a platform to network, educate and engage the community while presenting a unified voice for issues affecting our membership. I primary mission is to education. In Florida, the general aviation industry is responsible for nearly 95,000 jobs and more than $17 billion in annual economic output.

    For more Information: Jordan Scales,

  • October 19, 2021 11:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As I write this I’m on the cusp of heading to the annual NBAA Convention, in Las Vegas, and have the honor of speaking at the Small Operators Symposium and gathering with other regional associations for networking and learning. I am excited to share how CFBAA is thriving and growing with our amazing members.

    While I am looking forward to participating in this amazing event, I must endure the angst of flying on Delta Airlines. This will be my second foray on Delta within the last two weeks, and I hope this trip goes better than the last. Poor service, lack of communications, reassigned seats out of first class due to equipment change, and unfriendly workers made for a disappointing experience. In retrospect, this is awesome news for our industry. Treating high-net-worth individuals as cattle, along with the current mask mandate, are driving them to business aviation in droves. Way to go Delta and thanks for contributing to the current boom.

    I’m going to touch the third rail of vaccinations and while I am not in favor of mandates, I wonder how this will affect our industry. I just saw a report that Jacksonville ATC Center had a controller shortage, due to controllers not showing up for work, last Friday causing severe delays and cancellations. [FAA said it had a workforce shortage but not related to vaccine mandates.] I experienced some of that on our flight out of Florida Friday morning. Another industry article stated that some major airlines are prepared to let up to 500 pilots go for not complying. Let’s hope they opt to fly for business aviation. I believe business aviation will adjust and adapt, as we always do, and take advantage of the turmoil within the airline industry.

    At our annual meeting last month, the CFBAA Board of Directors choose to honor Kathryn Creedy who composes, edits, and publishes our monthly newsletter. This is no small task as Kathryn must take my musings and make them sound sensible. She is a true asset to our association, and we just wouldn’t have the outstanding newsletter without her. Our newsletter has been recognized by our national leaders and is becoming the envy of the industry. Thank you, Kathryn, for your hard work, dedication, and expertise! We are so happy to have you onboard.

    Stay safe,


  • September 17, 2021 5:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Members gathered at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Welcome Center for the CFBAA Annual Meeting were honored with the presence of NBAA President Ed Bolen, ERAU President Dr. P. Barry Butler and Volusia County Director of the Department of Aviation and Economic Resources Cyrus Callum who oversees Daytona Beach International Airport.

    Sponsored by Bombardier, Aviation Manuals, ERAU, Textron, Viasat and Sodexo, the event had 80 reservations. The very excellent meal was catered by Sodexo.

    ERAU Educating Workforce & Growing Research Capability

    CFBAA members not only learned about ERAU, its 7600 on-campus and 23,000 ERAU WorldWide students, it learned how this critical aviation resource is meeting the workforce crisis with 97% of grads either employed or pursuing advanced degrees. In addition, ERAU has robust K-12 programs including a online curriculum done in partnership with Women in Aviation International and its other K-12 work where it reaches 6,000 students in 40 different classrooms.

    Butler discussed the university’s Research Park hard by DAB. “Normally such aviation research facilities take 30 years to fill,” Butler said. “Ours filled in two years and we expect it to double in size in the next few years.”

    A nexus between the university’s intellectual and technological recourses, and the partner enterprises, it creates a technology-focused ecosystem bringing together university researchers and students with businesses, entrepreneurs, and start-ups, providing a foundation to start or grow their enterprise. The goals of the Research Park include increasing the university’s research capabilities and collaborations with industry, aiding tenants and start-ups in bringing new innovations to market, and stimulating economic development.

    Bolen Praises CFBAA

    A great booster for CFBAA, Ed Bolen discussed the importance of business aviation providing not only high-value, high-paying jobs but critical humanitarian work above and beyond its role of enabling businesses to be more successful for employees and other stakeholders. Business aviation, he said, allows them to plant their headquarters beyond the large population areas providing both jobs and economic development to their home towns.

    “They are located where they want to be but are still able to compete on the world stage,” he told attendees. “They also help build our NBAA community. Another great example of building community is CFBAA which creates connections. We have a range of issues and challenges but working together improves our ability to go farther, faster which is fundamental to who we are.”

    Bolen briefed attendees on how the industry is playing a leading role in sustainability including encouraging development of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) and promoting next generation propulsion including hybrid, electric and hydrogen solutions. It also encourages  the next step in transport – supersonic flight which has been proven by the military.

    Reporting on the odd conjunction of travel trends of business travel declining while business aviation growing, Bolen noted pre-owned market is booming with an historically low inventory. He indicated as jobs and home merged with the advent of the pandemic, people wanted easier, more secure and safer transport than the amount of advanced planning needed for the airlines and turned to private aviation.

    “There is still a critical need and emotional value in people getting together and that is what we are seeing with the rise of business aviation,” he concluded. “We are seeing people who have never been in the industry before. The numbers are off the charts. Companies have opportunities they haven’t had until now. These new customers are bringing new excitement to the industry and that can only be good for business aviation.”

    DAB Improvements      

    Callum briefed attendees on DAB improvements including a new taxiway connected ERAU’s Research Center to the rest of the airport. The airport’s pivotal role for educators, the military, private, business and commercial aviation makes the $14 million in improvements critical to its continued success in Central Florida. In addition to improving the commercial terminal giving it the beach vibe, the airport was declared Florida's Commercial Service Airport of the Year for 2021 by the Florida Department of Transportation although Callum credited the team at the airport for the honor.

    He reported that despite the dip in commercial traffic, general aviation traffic made DAB the busiest airport in Central Florida for a time last year. Airport projects included ARFF facilities which were rehabilitated going from worst to first, said Callum, who added two new fire trucks would be joining the fleet shortly. In addition, several taxiways have been refurbished at a cost of $15 million with minimal disruption to airport operations. He also reminded members NBAA BACE was scheduled for Orlando in 2022 where his old stomping ground ORL would host the static display.

    Jenny Showalter confers the first CFBAA member of the year award on Kathryn Creedy, Newsletter Editor

  • September 17, 2021 5:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Embraer just delivered its 1,500th business jet and has no open slots for new airplanes until 2023. Textron sales are up 20% with a backlog of $2.1 billion while Gulfstream sales reaches a 10-year high. The used aircraft market is at the lowest level for aircraft seen in a quite a while, causing prices to begin to raise. My flight department flew over 20 hours this past Labor Day weekend and every ramp was busy with a lot of activity. Some ramps have been at full capacity at desired tourist destinations causing crews to adjust flight schedules. FBO’s are reporting record fuel sales and this past weekend seemed very busy up and down the east coast. Angel Houck, with Aviation Tax Consultants and CFBAA BOD member, said she has had to postpone her vacation this summer because of the volume of new airplane buyers. NetJets has discontinued selling flight cards while the charter market is swamped as I experienced last week in arranging one for my boss.

    This is great news for our industry, especially after the past two years of dealing with COVID and welcomed by vendors and operators. But? Does there have to be a but? Can we just enjoy this boom and worry about the future, well, in the future?

    Not really. There are some headwinds our industry faces, and we have never shrunk from the challenges. Talent supply will be major issue in both the near, and far, future. Recruiting and maintaining qualified talent is already a problem for many vendors and operators and future predictions are not promising. As people invested in the business aviation community, we need to spread the news about how great, and exciting, are the opportunities for young people. One way will be through the newly established CFBAA Scholarship Foundation that will offer help to young talent considering business aviation. Keep an eye out for ways to contribute and participate.

    As is usual in my life, I am unable to attend our annual meeting at my alma mater, ERAU, this month. Spending the day flying to Bartow is almost exciting as binging the Kardashian series. I hope everyone can attend and share in the excitement of the continued growth of our association. Ed Bolen, President of NBAA, will be our honored guest and will share what a wonderful job each of you are doing in supporting our industry. There have been many challenges in making this event happen and many thanks go to Alicia Smith and Sarah Ochs at Embry-Riddle for doing the major lifting. We cherish their hard work and wonderful support. Come and enjoy a fine meal and hear some of our national and local business aviation leaders speak. I’ll give everyone a brief on the life of the Kardashians the next time we gather.

    Warmest regards,


  • July 15, 2021 10:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As NTSB Chair Robert Sumwalt flew into retirement, he reflected on his time at the board saying concerns remain about flight deck professionalism, violations of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and the fact that passengers still don’t know how to judge the quality of flight departments or how to ensure they are doing the right things to ensure safety.

    In the same vain, Stuart “Kip” Lau, reported on how few operators have Safety Management Systems citing Air Charter Safety Foundation reports.

    Let the Flyer Beware

    Sumwalt Reflects on Time with NTSB, Highlights Risk Management

    “I think that my view of safety has evolved over the years,” Sumwalt told AIN. “I now look at safety as the primary practice of managing risk to an acceptable level. I think sometimes maybe people just blindly accept the risk, and it's important to assess those risk areas and manage the risk. If we could get people thinking of managing safety, if we could get them thinking in terms of it's really a risk-management situation, that would be an evolution.”

    Sumwalt, who once ran a Fortune 500 corporate aviation department, pointed to an NBAA study finding 18% of flight department or flight crews did not do standard full flight control checks before takeoff.

    “One thing that really bothers me is a lack of procedural compliance,” he told AIN. “And we do find that as a factor [in accidents]. Procedures are written generally for a reason. People say they're written in blood. There've been studies that have shown that once you start deviating from the SOP, you're more likely to have consequential errors. So, I think that's one thing that I do harp on.

    “SOP compliance is one part of professionalism,” he continued. “I think it's important to ask ourselves, are we truly professionals? And I think everybody would say they are, but by what standard? I think professionals follow procedures. They have a respect for doing things properly. They're doing the right things even when no one is watching. I think in some cases, people spend more time trying to figure out how to skirt the regulations than actually complying with them.”

    Sumwalt was echoed at the opening of a Hawker 700 accident hearing in 2015 when NTSB Chair Christopher Hart said “A traveler boards an on-demand charter flight with the assumption that these government and company protections are in effect. However, in the accident…we found a flight crew, a company, and FAA inspectors who fell short of their obligations in regard to safety.”

    Lau noted both SMS and Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) are on the NTSB Most Wanted list. The board wanted FAA to require and verify the effectiveness of SMS in all revenue-passenger-carrying aviation operations.

    There is history behind this stemming from the increasing regulations for the regional airline industry when NTSB first said all revenue operations should meet a single level of safety. The improving safety systems and commercial accident rates prompted NTSB to pivot its attention to business and general aviation. The warning here is if the industry does not develop programs on its own, they will be mandated.

    Shockingly, Lau reported that of the 1,900 charter operators in the U.S., only 20 have been accepted into the FAA’s voluntary SMS program—approximately 1% of all Part 135 operators, the Air Charter Safety Foundation reported recently. Another 213 have applied, but once those operators are approved, they will still represent no more than about 10% of all charter companies.

    “ACSF's organizational-based ASAP is a bright spot when it comes to Part 91/135 voluntary safety programs,” Lau wrote. “It was originally designed for Part 135 charter operators and has now expanded to include several Part 91 operators. ‘The program is structured so ACSF, not the FAA or operator, shoulders 90% of the administrative burden,’ according to ACFS President Bryan Burns. “Since its inception over six years ago, it has grown to include more than 200 participants—and Part 91 operators now make up over half of the total.

    Lau pointed to a new SMS Tool, simple, easy-to-use software platform for their use, now available. “From my experience, a true, active SMS solution can take up to three to five years to mature,” said Burns. “It takes that amount of time to change the process, attitudes, and culture. The old way of doing things in-house no longer applies. So, the time to get started is now.”

  • May 12, 2021 11:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It is no surprise to the aviation community that general and business aviation show up to help in disasters even before they are asked. Operators and pilots know they bring a unique set of skills and resources that can help, whether ferrying in much needed relief supplies or ferrying out evacuees. But the haphazard nature of such help is not part of global emergency management preparations. They should be.

    Often those in charge of managing disasters don’t know what to do with these air assets foregoing time sensitive solutions in emergencies.

    During the Covid pandemic, general aviation rose to the occasion once again, connecting remote communities in Alaska, Montana and Michigan and delivering life-saving vaccines.

    The story was recounted as part of a webinar arranged by Tecnam and included both NATA and GAMA to explain how governments should plan in advance to use general and business aviation during emergencies. There is now a move afoot to develop a general/business aviation global emergency response infrastructure that could provide governments with turn-key operations to get to those in need whether by famine, disease or natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

    Tecnam, which used its P2012, kitted with a newly develop refrigeration system, to deliver vaccines prompted the webinar aired in April. 

    Tecnam Managing Director Giovanni Pascale Langer pointed out only general aviation can truly meet the needs of rapid distribution in underserved markets, if it can overcome the many hurdles in its way. Those hurdles include lack of awareness in how GA can help and advanced planning to overcome the silos represented by regulatory and health authorities who don't know who to tap into aviation networks.

    “In North America, general aviation is well organized but not so in Europe,” said Tecnam’s Walter Da Costa. “For Tecnam, we continue to work on creating the platform for the industry to work together.” 

    National Air Transportation Association Senior Vice President Ryan Waguespack agreed leveraging the networks of GA airports and general aviation itself provides the roadmap for what can be developed.

    Webinar Points the Way

    Remarks were part of a webinar organized by Tecnam which included the Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and NATA discussing what needs to be done to make aviation a genuine part of disaster relief.

    As an example of the urgent need, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) Disaster Response and International Development Expert Daniel Juzi said without general aviation it will take two to three years before Covid vaccinations are complete in many developing regions in the world where it operates. That gives the virus time to mutate and re-infect those areas already vaccinated.

    Idaho-based MAF, which serves 3,000 airstrips with 65,000 to 85,000 flights and 180,000 passengers worldwide every year, partners with health organizations who deliver medical services. Juzi indicated local governments and health authorities were not geared toward using aviation in their plans while the military is the distribution default in other countries.

    “A challenge we have seen and already know is there are considerable hurdles,” he explained. “Vaccine distribution is very high profile and sometimes the military wants to do it. In addition, health authorities are very much directing efforts in some areas but not others. It is also high cost in many remote areas and using aviation could bring the cost down.”

    Tecnam’s Langer said the difficulties of vaccine transport and the unique cold-chain requirements prompted the creation of its P2012 TravelCare.

    “Since the pandemic hit us, we have seen that everyone was playing [their] role,” said Langer. “Today, we want to say out loud that general aviation is here to do the same. We have the power to bring advantages and help where nobody else can.”

    Even North America Must Organize to Tap Aviation

    Both GAMA and NATA pointed out leveraging aviation is an uphill battle even in North America.

    Waguespack pointed to three states leveraging general aviation to not only distribute vaccines but, in some cases, turn airports into vaccination sites. While Michigan and Alaska have long turned to aviation to meet their transportation needs, the role in Montana was an eye opener, he explained.

    “The pandemic is a golden opportunity for general aviation to step up,” said Waguespack. “In Montana, a veterans affairs group worked with companies using Learjets to not only distribute vaccines but carry nurses to administer them. Let’s say you go into a community and you have 500 doses and only 400 show up. One of the challenges that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is facing when we were in discussions with them is that those remaining doses couldn’t be returned to the hub, so they have to be thrown out. General aviation can ensure those doses are used by moving quickly to another area for vaccination.”

    In addition to government health and regulatory authorities, the maze of approvals for including aviation is often stymied by bureaucracy, according to GAMA’s Vice President of European Affairs Kyle Martin, who reported GA supported Doctors Without Borders.

    “GAMA wrote to the European Commission and all the EU member states in early December effectively offering our services to help distribute vaccines,” he said. “Their reply was quite clear that, whilst the commission procured the vaccines for all the EU member states, they were not in charge of distribution. Distribution was, therefore, left to each individual member state or, in some cases, down to different regions of that member state. These authorities don’t think about general aviation as a useful asset in the toolbox even though it gives massive flexibility for these missions and can access remote locations on islands, jungles and mountain regions.”

    Overcoming Hurdles with Turn-Key Solutions

    That problem can only be overcome by advanced emergency planning in which all levels of aviation are included in initial distribution planning to complement commercial and charter services. To make that happen, said a panelist, aviation must build a coalition and develop the systems and resources necessary to convince governments that it has a turn-key solution for using aviation in disasters. But all stakeholders need to be at the table, including commercial airlines to assure efficient use of all assets aviation has to offer.

    It is all about developing the networks that can spring into action and tying them in with national health services and regulatory authorities, suggested Juzi.

    “You have to have the regulators on board,” he said. “Being willing and able is one thing but how can we do this legally and be compliant? We can if we think about ahead of time.”

    First Responders

    Aviation, whether commercial, cargo, general or business aviation, has always responded to disasters before being asked delivering water, medical supplies and disaster relief to stricken areas. However, without a formalized plan at the governmental level, these precious resources often go to waste, prolonging the suffering of affected populations.

    For instance, a global luxury helicopter company responded to the twin hurricanes of Irma and Maria in 2017 by offering helicopter service in the Caribbean to both bring in relief supplies and ferry out evacuees. Governments had no idea what to do with such assets and did not take advantage of the offer which only sought to cover operating costs. Helicopters are not the only assets, insists Martin.

    “Because a lack of awareness of the advantages of using GA in crises," Martin added, "most attention is concentrated on a few transportation methods like helicopters so there is plenty of untapped opportunity for leveraging the industry during crises and disasters. GA really offers a significant advantage in terms of flexibility. Shorter field lengths, steeper approaches, smaller shipment size, lower cost all to benefit local governments in delivering services.”

    NATA and RACCA are continuing discussions to create a coalition of like-minded aviation organizations to organize and develop the resources to leveraging aviation resources to aid in health- and natural-disaster related relief efforts now and in the future.

    Tecnam Aircraft Hosts Webinar with Industry Experts to Explore the Role of General Aviation in COVID Vaccine Distribution (
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