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Is General Aviation a Valuable Industry in the United States?

Perhaps, you are not aware that there is a shortage of pilots in the United States, and we are having challenges getting people into the profession, for instance we don’t have enough aerospace engineers for the future. Worse, China is graduating more engineers than we are, and they have a rather aggressive five-year aviation strategy. In fact, they are opening up general aviation nationwide. Unfortunately, we are going the other way, at a time when we very much need the jobs for making aviation equipment and aircraft, as it is one of our strongest exporting industries.

Last month there was a rather problematic article in Aviation Maintenance Technology News titled “NATA Responds to Obama’s Disparaging Comments About General Aviation,” which was published on June 30, 2011. Apparently the President of NATA (National Air Transportation Association) was just fit-to-be-tied over the comments that President Obama had made about general aviation (GA) while pitching his budget proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy and secure the future of ObamaCare and all his social programs. The article stated that NATA’s members are;

“appalled by Obama’s attacks on GA during a press conference. They want to eliminate a series of tax deductions; tax depreciation schedules for GA airplanes, to raise $400 billion in Tax Revenue over 10-years. Obama has repeatedly degraded the value of GA to our nation’s economy. This time, he does so a day after appearing at an American aircraft manufacturing facility to promote job growth. It is perplexing that he bashes an industry responsible for 1000s of manufacturing, maintenance, and service jobs.”

There is a reason why we have the tax codes the way we have them. General aviation has experienced attacks by politicians before. I can remember in the early 80s they got rid of the luxury tax laws, and modify the depreciation schedules, and at the time I was in the aviation business, and it just flat killed the entire industry. It was a horrible thing, and it cost tens of thousands of jobs in California, Florida, South Carolina, and of course in Wichita Kansas.

Before President Obama took office, he had made statements about rich corporate executives traveling in their corporate jets. Once elected, he followed that up by more disparaging statements during the bailouts for General Motors and Chrysler when those executives flew their corporate jets to Washington DC to speak to Congress. Corporate and general aviation for business purposes makes sense, because it is efficient, and these are business tools that we need.