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NBAA's Bolen Blasts ATA For 'Unfounded' Comments On VLJs

Disputes Assertion Jets Will Be "Significant Burden" On NAS

On Monday, the National Business Aviation Association came out swinging against allegations made by the Air Transport Association the emergence of very light jets (VLJs) would impose a burden on the nation's aviation infrastructure.

As Aero-News reported, an official with the commercial airline lobbying group contended last week VLJs would be a "significant burden" in the aviation system, interfering with the operations of the commercial airlines. NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen (right) says ATA's statements simply don't hold water -- and what's more, several government officials have already said as much.

"The unfounded comments by the ATA fly in the face not only of public statements by Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Marion Blakey but also congressional testimony by top FAA officials," said Bolen. "The fear-mongering by the airlines may be part of their broader strategy to pay less for air traffic services even as they try to seize control of the system."

Bolen cited public statements by FAA officials on VLJs, including the following:

  • In July, Blakey told NBC Nightly News: "I think the people who are anticipating congestion problems [from VLJs] way up at high altitude are probably anticipating a problem that we don't necessarily expect to have."
  • Last week, Nicholas Sabatini, FAA associate administrator for aviation safety, echoed Blakey's remarks. In testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee, Sabatini said, "The system is in place today to accommodate the entry of new aircraft into the National Airspace System.... This is nothing new for the FAA. It is our day-to-day business."
  • Other FAA officials have concurred. In July, FAA Director of Systems Operations Airspace Nancy Kalinowski told the Orlando Business Journal: "We just don't see any problem integrating them into the airspace. It's a new and exciting jet that's coming on board. We'll make adjustments to handle it."

"The development of VLJ aircraft is good news on many levels," Bolen said. "Their introduction produces high-skill manufacturing jobs. They will help make many small and mid-sized companies more competitive. And, they will strengthen aviation services for many small communities. Those benefits should be the focus of discussion about VLJs."



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