One of the best things about coming to events like EAA AirVenture and AOPA’s Aviation Summit is the opportunity for the general aviation community to hear directly from top-level officials, like FAA Administrator Randy Babbit. Just as important, it’s a chance for those officials to hear from GA pilots and owners.
I had the chance to speak with Administrator Babbitt yesterday during a lunch meeting, and today we took part in a town hall style meeting featuring the FAA administrator along with many leading members of his management team. Even Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood dropped by to deliver the message that he considers general aviation “absolutely essential.”
Over the course of the meeting, Administrator Babbitt talked about many of the issues that are in the forefront for AOPA and the general aviation community at large and thanked the AOPA Air Safety Foundation for its work on improving safety. In addition to safety, he talked about the value of general aviation, NextGen, and the transition away from leaded avgas.
Administrator Babbitt expressed his committment to working with the aviation community to find a solution for replacing leaded fuel–a solution that, in his words, “works for all piston aircraft…old, new, and even those not yet built.”
Equally heartening was his assertion that user fees are not on the horizon, despite the continuing uncertainty over the future of FAA funding.
It’s good to know that top officials are acutely aware of our concerns and, as always, I look forward to working closely with them to ensure that general aviation’s needs remain top-of-mind as we tackle these issues and pursue new opportunities.