The National Business Aviation Association has represented the interests of the business aviation industry for more than 70 years. Among the association’s many activities and functions, the NBAA helps members stay on top of operational, technical, educational, and legislative issues; regulatory requirements; and issues facing businesses that operate aircraft.
Duncan Aviation has been a member of NBAA since 1966, and since joining, many team members have served in leadership roles on various NBAA committees and subcommittees. Duncan Aviation Chairman Todd Duncan has served as Chair of the NBAA Advisory Council and as a member of the NBAA Board; Vice President of Sales Mike Minchow is a Community Director on the CAM (Certified Aviation Manager) Governing Board; Manager of Service Sales in Battle Creek, Michigan, Phil Suglia is on the Maintenance committee and serves as the Chair for the Workforce Development subcommittee; and Manager of Corporate and Marketing Communications Lori Johnson serves on the Business Aviation Management committee and is Co-Chair for the NBAA Leadership Conference in 2019 and 2020.
As a company, there are issues we face every day that other business aviation professionals have almost certainly dealt with. Through these committees, we share our expertise and glean valuable insight from others who have different experiences and perspectives.
During Todd’s tenure on the NBAA Advisory Council and Board, the business aviation industry was dealing with two important legislative issues: the attempt to privatize the FAA, and the bill that was necessary to reauthorize the FAA.
In October 2018, the bill reauthorizing the FAA for five more years cleared its final hurdle in the United States Senate and was signed by the President. With workforces throughout the business aviation industry facing shortages of qualified technicians, the bill included grant programs to help fund training and education programs. It also maintained the BARR (Block Aircraft Registration Request) program that protects the privacy and security of owners and operators.
“Efforts by members of the NBAA, the Advisory Council, and businesses directly involved in business aviation were crucial in demonstrating to Congress that privatizing the FAA was not in the country’s best interest,” says Todd. “Privatizing would have restricted access to many airports and would have decreased the availability of the most favorable airspace for business aviation aircraft, too.”
One of the most critical issues the business aviation industry is currently grappling with is the expected shortage by 2022 of skilled aviation professionals. The committees Phil and Lori serve on are actively seeking ways to mitigate this workforce shortage.
The Maintenance committee is composed of representatives of aircraft management companies, OEMs, MROs, corporate flight departments, and individual operators.
“We serve on these committees and subcommittees with competitors, so although it’s good for Duncan Aviation to be a part of these groups, what we’re doing is working for the good of the business aviation industry,” says Phil. “We want individual businesses and the industry as a whole to be stronger as a result of the work we do.”
As a result of the prospect of critical shortages in the business aviation workforce, Phil also joined the NBAA’s Workforce Development subcommittee as its chair in 2017.
“Because schools that offer aviation maintenance programs have classes filled only to half-capacity, we know there won’t be enough mechanics by 2022,” says Phil. “We’re addressing ways to get information about careers in aviation in front of students when they’re younger. We’re encouraging more kids to pursue A&P licenses and keep them in the aviation industry. Post graduation, we’re losing them to the oil and railroad industries and even to amusement parks.”
The subcommittee is also trying to help fill the schools again. Once kids start attending the aviation maintenance schools, representatives throughout the industry can talk to them and are already actively doing so, but the challenge is getting them in the schools in the first place.
“We know we’re effective when we talk to high-school students, but we also need to reach school guidance counselors so they’re aware of the careers in business aviation and can tell kids about those opportunities.”
Phil feels that members of the NBAA committees and subcommittees are helping keep the business aviation industry healthy. It’s important to find ways to continue to supply the industry with talented technicians, to make sure the maintenance facilities are better aligned with the interests of the owner/operators, and that we can keep up with the demand that continues to grow year-over-year.
Mike agrees that individual companies and employees throughout the business aviation industry are only as strong as the industry as a whole.
“My involvement indirectly benefits Duncan Aviation, but the point of the CAM Governing Board is to identify, mentor, and help maintain the high standards of leaders and professionals in business aviation in order to ensure the long-term success of the business aviation industry itself,” says Mike.
The CAM Governing Board identifies qualified industry professionals who want to lead flight departments and become leaders. Other NBAA members who serve on the committee are chief pilots, directors of aviation departments, consultants, corporate pilots, professors at universities, and representatives from other MROs.
“Our members represent a broad spectrum of the business aviation industry, and we’re all interested in grooming future leaders by focusing on leadership development and business management,” says Mike. “We help set up the framework by identifying and recruiting future leaders, and we talk about the value and benefits of their continued professional development.”
Leadership development is also one of the goals of the committee Lori is on: Raising the bar for professionalism in flight departments and companies that operate business aircraft. The 30 members of the Business Aviation Management committee are flight department managers, pilots, executives, and service professionals.
“We discuss ways business aviation companies can provide professional development opportunities and additional training and explore industry changes in an effort to prepare member companies for and to help craft where the industry is going. Additionally, we hope to better define available career paths and discuss how to recruit for the anticipated shortage of pilots and technicians in aviation. ”
The workforce topic is so important to the industry, the theme for the Leadership Conference in February 2020 is Sustain Your Workforce and for 2021 it will be about attracting and developing leaders. The two-day events will focus on developing world-class leaders, attracting the best team members, technicians, and pilots, and creating the culture that makes people want to stay in business aviation.
All committee members believe the biggest reason for Duncan Aviation to take part in these important NBAA committees is that investing our time, experience, and expertise helps improve the quality of current and future leaders throughout the industry. As we recruit and retain more professionals, our customers have the opportunity to interact with other aviation professionals who are as committed as we are to the long-term success of the industry.