Ask the Aviation Advocates
Greg Kinsella and Rich Ropp share more than a few traits in common, including their leadership in private aviation. Both exhibit passion for their communities, aviation, and working as a Base President for Jet Linx (Kinsella in Washington DC and Ropp in St. Louis). Both exhibit values highly prized at Jet Linx, with dedication, compassion, and integrity alongside selflessness and enthusiasm. They also have a knack for leadership, and have found a natural outlet: both serve as President of their regional aviation groups following the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).
NBAA promotes business aviation nationwide, and the regional aviation groups work to support that on a local level. “Part of the catalyst for GWBAA [Greater Washington Business Aviation Association] was that we needed to unify the aviation community on a tax issue that was coming up locally,” Kinsella remembered. “The unification at the grassroots, local level was proven to be an effective tool for the industry and for NBAA to tap into: so much so, that NBAA now has employees who are regional directors for the groups.” Efforts are frequently coordinated with NBAA, so members are able to unify and amplify their messages to the industry and the community, promoting the value and validity of business jet and general aviation. “The regional aviation groups help foster the political and professional interests and operations of aircraft from the single-engine flight school operation to the global corporate flight department,” Ropp explained. “They offer awareness of proposed government regulation and taxation issues.”
Kinsella and Ropp both advocate for the efforts of their regional aviation groups: read on for more from each on why the groups are important in the aviation industry.
Rich Ropp, Jet Linx St. Louis
President of Greater St. Louis Business Aviation Association
The importance of general aviation and business jet usage is incredibly relevant to the state of Missouri. For example; a study conducted on behalf of the Missouri Department of Transportation [MoDOT] in 2012 underscored the significant economic contributions derived from the nine commercial-use and 99 public-use general aviation, or GA, airports in the state. This study determined that aviation pumps approximately $11.1 billion annually into the state’s economy, a figure that represents 4.3 percent of Missouri’s gross state product and a 17.1 increase over the past decade. The study also determined that “business aviation was a key factor in that growth.” According to MoDOT, the state is home to nearly 500 aviation facilities in all, including airports, heliports, seaplane bases, and private airfields.
Furthermore, general aviation and business jet use adds an unparalleled efficiency to individuals and businesses, providing access to more than 5,000 airports nationwide versus less than 500 by the airlines. GSLBAA offers a networking group of local, national, and global aviation operations to strategize about best practices, policies, and processes while better understanding any issues in the industry, big or small.
Business jets are a tool for businesses and offer provable time savings, safety, business efficiency, and return on investment. The National Business Aviation Association has data that shows the use of business jets has a direct correlation on the productivity, profitability, and overall efficiency for businesses that use general and business aviation aircraft. Simply stated, a business airplane allows companies to do more, in less time, and often at less cost than other transportation alternatives. Most people recognize that productivity, flexibility and dependability are attributes of well-managed companies. They are also the benefits of business aviation. This is the core of the business case for a business airplane, and the reason tens of thousands of well-managed, cost-conscious U.S. companies rely on them. GSLBAA’s membership supports this belief.
Our local chapter holds an annual golf tournament, now in its 40th year – always a fun and memorable event. My golf game is probably closer to ‘excavating’ than hitting the ball given that I’m continually filling very large divots! I managed to win the ‘Most Honest Score’ trophy, meaning I had the highest number of strokes – so it should be easy for me to improve. I also enjoy the major aircraft manufacturer static displays at our luncheons, given the education our organization receives. Airplanes are and always will be amazing to me.
Greg Kinsella, Jet Linx Washington DC
President of Greater Washington Business Aviation Association
I think the issues that matter most right now include the privatization of Air Traffic Control because we don’t feel that it will give business aviation a level playing field in the ATC system. We’re always talking about the No Plane No Gain message and trying to change the perception of business aviation to the general population, that it’s not a toy for the chairman, it’s a tool for industries and makes companies more effective, more efficient, and more profitable when used effectively.
The other area that we’re really starting to focus on, and we’ve been supporters in the form of scholarship dollars in the past, but education for our youth. A lot of young people today don’t look to aviation as a profession they want to pursue, which is unfortunate, and a big problem is that the industry has relied too heavily on the military for sources of personnel and that vein has dried up, for all intents and purposes, and we haven’t really backfilled that through traditional educational channels. One of our focal points going forward is to get more involved with educational programs at younger ages so that we instill the idea and the vision in our youth of getting into aviation as a career path in the future.
There’s a gap of at least one generation where kids don’t even think about being a pilot or an air traffic controller. I read an article about a woman who was a flight attendant and who went back to school to learn to be a pilot, and the takeaway was that she thought, ‘I didn’t realize I could do that.’ I don’t think it’s uncommon for a girl or a boy to think that. I have two young girls, so I’m a bit sensitive to that: my girls already go flying with me and they know they can fly. For my elementary school daughter, she’s in fifth grade, she has a career fair coming up for school and we’re going to have a booth there with the Jet Linx balsa wood airplanes. One of our initiatives with GWBAA is to develop our own scholarship program: some of the other regional associations have developed really solid scholarship programs for young people as well as people in the industry so they can further their careers.
Last year, I went to the NBAA regional roundtable in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The leadership from all the NBAA regional groups around the country attend, and we share ideas about how to promote business aviation more effectively in our local communities, how to make our associations more effective, and how to provide more services to our members. It was really amazing to see that there’s always room for improvement, and it’s great to learn from others who are in the same realm of trying to make a difference in their local communities.