Aviators have many things in common. We all deal with the unrelenting force of gravity, no matter what we fly or why we engage in the technology of flight. When we enter the airspace, the elements of wind, moisture and density treat us the same. Whether motivated to go aloft by pleasure or profit, we all need the proficiency to win our battle over the forces of nature.
Business Aviation garners much attention these days as the scheduled airlines engage in a practice they call capacity discipline, which is designed to increase airline load-factors and profitability on available flights. Anyone who has booked a trip on scheduled air carriers recognizes that there are fewer choices now compared with several years ago. In the last five to six years, even as the economy has improved, departures from major hub cities have been reduced by nearly nine percent. Secondary and smaller airports with scheduled service have been hit more dramatically, with departures reduced by over 21 percent. Finding seats on flights is difficult without ample lead time, and airliners often are full (if not overbooked). Furthermore, scheduled airlines service can be found only to about one out of every 10 airports in the entire USA. More important to business travelers, convenient schedules are available to approximately 50 hub cities.
Thus it is understandable that Business Aviation—the use of a General Aviation aircraft for business transportation—is starting to grow once again. The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) just admitted its 10,000 member company, TCB Air, LLC, which serves two manufacturers that jointly own a Beechcraft King Air C90A for the transport of sales, engineering and other Staff to customer sites thought out the country.
Unlike AOPA, NBAA focuses on company membership rather than offering membership status to individuals. It is significant, however, that many of the companies that belong to NBAA have one or more aviation personnel who also belong to AOPA. Fortunately for the entire General Aviation community, AOPA and NBAA have an honorable and successful tradition of working together to assure access to airports and airspace and to guard against unwarranted user fees.
The two associations also have active programs to promote safety. AOPA’s Air Safety Institute provides a wealth of educational materials that are applicable to all aviators, regardless of hours flown or type ratings earned. Embracing the ASI’s pamphlets and seminars is an excellent way to learn and stay current. NBAA’s leadership role in promoting the International Standard-Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) offers a process-management approach to safety that provides insightful direction to everyone who flies. The pleasure pilot can benefit greatly from developing his or her own personal operations manual along the lines promoted by IS-BAO for sophisticated flight departments.
In our quest to fly safely, efficiently and successfully in all aviation endeavors—be the purpose business or pleasure—we are wise to understand the resources of our aviation associations such as AOPA and NBAA. These organizations are our best means of maintaining a friendly relationship with the forces of nature.