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Mon, Apr 04, 2005

NBAA's Bolen: It's Time To Think Global

Opening Doors In Brazil

By ANN Senior Editor Pete Combs

It was the biggest LABACE ever -- with attendance on just the first day up 16-percent compared to the attendance of last year's event. That's the kind of thing that makes sponsor NBAA happy -- and the kind of thing that makes him think about business aviation the world over.

In an interview with ANN from the event site in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Bolen talked about two things most important to business aviation -- infrastructure and regulation.

"We're beginning to recognize that general aviation isn't just the US," Bolen said.

Part of the issue is simply getting from here to there -- wherever "there" may be.

Take Brazil for instance. If LABACE '05 has done nothing else, it has opened the channels of discourse between two nations whose governments aren't all that friendly. "There's a lot of conversation," Bolen said, "between US and Brazilian officials on harmonizing regulations. For instance, non-commercial Brazilian aircraft are only allowed to fly into the US six times a year."

There were no major breakthroughs on that issue at LABACE '05, Bolen said. Rather, there was quiet progress. "This is our third year here. We continue to tweak. There's a lot of room for improvement."

Perhaps the biggest opportunity to improve aviation relations between the US and Brazil came on the conference's opening day last week, when FAA Deputy Administrator Robert Sturgell spoke at the opening ceremonies. "That brought about a level of respect from the Brazilians, to have him at the ribbon-cutting ceremony," Bolen (right) said. "When he mentioned that he'd been an instructor at Miromar [Naval Air Station, where the Navy holds its "Top Gun" competitions] and paid his respects to Brazil," he gained a lot of respect for himself and the US.

That's the kind of interaction Bolen thinks will get things moving in the effort to homogenize aviation regulations between North and South America. "It's harder to resolve the differences if you don't know the people," Bolen told ANN.

To that end, NBAA is headed to Asia later this year for another LABACE-style conference -- this one in China. "We're laying the groundwork," he said. "We're doing missionary work."



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