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Wednesday, 13 July, 2022

NATA Testifies before House Aviation Subcommittee

Washington, DC, July 13, 2022 – National Air Transportation Association (NATA) President and CEO Timothy Obitts testified today before the House Aviation Subcommittee to discuss the current state of general aviation as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. In the testimony, NATA highlights challenges facing our industry as well as opportunities to ensure we maintain a healthy, thriving aviation ecosystem – one that meets today’s needs and is prepared to embrace tomorrow’s innovation.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, general aviation proved its national value by continuing to deliver vital essential services when commercial aviation shut down,” said Obitts. “Part 135 air carriers and general aviation airports provided critical medical transport, supported essential law enforcement
and firefighting services, transported testing and vaccine supplies, facilitated business travel to maintain economic growth, and kept remote communities safely connected.”

After a devastating dip in private air travel during the first few months of the pandemic, Part 135 business jet operators matched 2019 activity by early summer of 2020 and eventually surpassed the previous year’s pace—a trend that continued throughout 2021 as the pandemic persisted. Currently, private flying activity continues to exceed expectations in the post-pandemic economy.

Obitts testified that this increased flight activity presents great opportunity for general aviation and aviation businesses. But its combination with a significant number of new entrants into the 135 market, an economic downturn, and substantial workforce challenges across the industry has led to a
dangerous uptick in illegal charter activity. 

NATA also attributes its concerns about the pervasiveness of this problem to inconsistent investigation and enforcement by Flight Standards District Offices, as well as the backlog of appeals to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). 

“The lack of data on outcomes of reported suspicion of illegal charter activity make it difficult to gauge the scope of issues contributing to this problem; therefore, we believe the release of annual data breaking down reports by source and aggregating outcomes would assist both the FAA and industry in combatting illegal charter activity,” said Obitts. “In addition, FAA needs increased resources to consistently investigate and expand enforcement, while NTSB needs resources to adjudicate the backlog of appeals once charges have been made.”

During today’s testimony, Obitts confirmed NATA’s commitment to working with Congress and FAA to tackle challenges that are currently deterring legitimate new entrants to the industry and increasing the risk of regulatory noncompliance.  

“While the tempo of business aviation activity continues to trend upward, the lack of skilled labor and meager supplies of aircraft parts, coupled with the FAA's struggles to process a backlog of certification applications, is causing severe operational challenges for our members,” added Obitts. 

Currently, FAA’s certification queue numbers are over 500 applications—in recent years, that number has risen above 1000. As a result, it can take up to two years for a prospective operator to obtain a 135 certificate.

“NATA believes it is important that FAA emphasizes prioritizing its certification, accident investigation, and safety oversight resources,” said Obitts. “Further, NATA strongly recommends the FAA also partner with industry to conduct a thorough assessment of the current certification process and average length of time from application to certification. Analysis of such data will allow the Agency to more effectively allocate resources and streamline the certification process without compromising safety.”

Along with other industry partners, Obitts also emphasized the threat of the environmental impact of 100 Low Lead (100LL) fuel to general aviation. NATA and other leading general aviation organizations are partnering with FAA on the EAGLE initiative to find an unleaded fuel solution for the entire piston aircraft fleet by 2030 and to ensure the availability of leaded Avgas until an alternative is widely available.

“NATA is committed first and foremost to safety, so we are in the process of developing training to avoid misfuelling, as well as publishing a white paper on safe fueling with alternative fuels,” said Obitts.

Other aviation business priorities highlighted in NATA’s testimony include meeting the industry’s sustainability goals through the proliferation and adoption of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), ensuring aviation businesses are prepared for AAM implementation, needed focus on maintaining and modernizing crucial airport infrastructure that supports essential services, and the importance of streamlining the process of removing unnecessary foam fire suppression systems in aircraft storage hangars, as well as working toward FAA approval of a fluorine free alternative in cases where foam is necessary.

“NATA strongly believes in collaboration between industry and governmental stakeholders in achieving our ultimate goal of empowering the safety and success of the national airspace system—one that is accessible and for the betterment of all,” concluded Obitts.

Read NATA’s full statement here.

For general press inquiries, contact Shannon Chambers at 703-298-1347 or

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has been the voice of aviation business for more than 80 years. Representing nearly 3,700 aviation businesses, NATA’s member companies provide a broad range of services to general aviation, the airlines and the military and NATA serves as the public policy group representing the interests of aviation businesses before Congress and the federal agencies.