Panel Discusses Impact Of Election To GA
by ANN Associate Editor Scott Evans
Themed "The Day Before Yesterday," Thursday's panel discussion
at the first General Session of AOPA Expo 2008 brought together
four industry experts to analyze the impact of the recent US
presidential election, and what it could mean to general
Outgoing AOPA President Phil Boyer received a standing ovation
as he welcomed a full house to the 2008 AOPA Expo. Introductions of
panelists followed -- each respected members of the aviation
community -- including Jane Garvey, former FAA Administrator; James
Coyne, president of the National Air Transportation Association and
former congressman from Pennsylvania; Steve Alterman, president of
the Cargo Airline Association; and Ken Mead, former Department of
Transportation Inspector General.
Moderated by AOPA Executive VP of Governmental Affairs Andy
Cebula, the discussion centered on key topics critical to GA,
beginning with changes in presidential and congressional
leadership. Coyne (below) felt the electorate is seeking a real
"communicator" in the office of President, something he said has
been lacking in recent years.
"We've got a new democratic administration and a democratic
congress and there's a lot of concern," Garvey said. "Does this
mean a new shift toward liberal policies? I think if you look at
some of the new members (of congress), even the new democratic
members, what you see is a much more moderate position, so I'm not
sure that we will see a real shift to the left as some are
Citing other national concerns like the economy taking
precedence, Alterman (below) described an overall indifferent
attitude toward general aviation by lawmakers. "It's a real
challenge to energize the new congress and administration with the
importance of getting things done" for aviation, adding that
congress will likely benefit from an "increased level of discipline
exerted by the new administration."
Mead (below) said, "We are entering an era of great
expectations. People voted on the basis of hope and change," but he
also predicted that President-elect Obama's honeymoon with the
country would be a short one.
Other noteworthy topics included the renewal of FAA funding,
aviation safety and TSA standards, and implementation of
Former FAA Administrator Garvey (below) was asked what qualities
should be looked for in a new Administrator. "Leadership,
management, the ability to pull people together and determine a
path forward are really critical," she said.
A surprise pre-recorded video clip from Congressman Peter
DeFazio (D-OR, shown on screen below) suggested Boyer, stepping
down at the end of the year from 18 years as president of AOPA,
would be an excellent choice for the position of FAA
After fielding Cebula's questions, panelists responded to topics
raised by the audience. Via text messaging to a phone number
provided on a large viewscreen, attendees were invited to submit
their questions, which were in turn presented to the panel by Phil
A pilot from Oregon asked, "How do we get more involved in some
of these things that are being talked about?"
"I think a great way is through this organization... plugging in
through AOPA," Garvey responded.
Boyer's final question from the audience hit at the heart of
AOPA's mission. "Will anti-special interest sentiment, which seems
to be running rampant in Washington, affect AOPA lobbying efforts?"
Alterman was quick with his response. "If you really think about
the way things work, if you took away all the special interests and
left congressmen to their own devices, what the hell would they