DC Influencer: Q&A with Ed Bolen, CEO, National Business Aviation Association

Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association, speaks with Jaimy Lee about educating policymakers on issues relating to the business aviation community.

Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association, speaks with Jaimy Lee about educating policymakers on issues relating to the business aviation community.

What are the top two issues that the organization will be working on this year?

Bolen: The first issue is related to promoting and understanding what business aviation is. In February of 2009, we launched a public advocacy campaign called “No Plane No Gain.” Continuing to promote that program and keeping it relevant, refreshed, is going to be a top priority throughout 2010.

We'll also be very focused on legislation related to aviation. That includes Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization and potential environmental legislation.

What is the organization's main message when you are communicating about environmental and climate change issues?

Bolen: We want people to recognize that we have long been very forward leaning on environmental issues and that, despite the fact that we are less than one-half of 1% of the transportation emissions, we are very committed to reducing our carbon footprint.

How did the challenges for the business aviation community in 2009 affect the way you have to communicate?

Bolen: A substantial portion of 2009 was helping people get an accurate understanding of what business aviation is and its essential nature to our nation's job base; to the economic development of small- and mid-sized communities; to the companies large, medium, and small that need it to generate efficiency and productivity; and to some of the humanitarian efforts in our country.

What were some of the steps you took to educate and reaffirm the role of the business aviation community?

Bolen: We have featured a study that looked at the most innovative companies, that looked at the best brands, that looked at the most consumer-conscious companies.

[We] basically determined that over 90% of the best companies rely on business aviation and in fact recognized that business aviation is the sign of a well managed company. We've also made sure we've done research to quantify the fact that 85% of the companies that rely on business aviation are small- and mid-sized companies and that the majority of the time they are carrying mid-level managers, technicians, and engineers.

What are some of the other ways the association is helping to address the reputational issues for the industry?

Bolen: We're providing tools to our members to help them understand and document the value of the business airplane to their company. So, helping them to establish a company policy for how, when, and where they use the plane, document retention strategies, and ways that they can accurately communicate how the plane has benefited the company.

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