National general aviation organizations applauded Governor Bill Lee on Tuesday, March 16 for declaring March “General Aviation Month”.

In Tennessee, the total economic output of airports is over $40 billion, making up 11% of Tennessee’s GDP, according to a new study released in February.

“General aviation and our network of airports play a crucial role in supporting the livelihood of businesses, towns and cities throughout Tennessee,” said Selena Shilad, executive director of Alliance for Aviation Across America. “During the pandemic, for example, volunteer pilots have flown COVID-19 test samples and supplies to labs in Nashville and across the region. And, these aircraft and airports support automotive manufacturing and agriculture, among other industries and sectors.”

Formed in 2007, Alliance for Aviation Across America is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition of over 7,000 individuals representing businesses, agricultural groups, FBO’s, small airports, elected officials, charitable organizations, and leading business and aviation groups that support the interests of the general aviation community across various public policy issues.

Mark Baker, president of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, said, “General aviation and local airports support an economic impact of more than $1 billion. We thank Governor Lee for issuing this proclamation, which helps to raise awareness about the value of general aviation and local airports across our state and region.”

Ed Bolen, president and CEO of National Business Aviation Association, added, “General aviation, which includes business aviation, is an important resource that helps drive Tennessee’s economy. Business aviation can provide companies with a key competitive advantage over other firms by supporting their ability to deploy personnel to multiple sites in a given day, and reach towns and smaller cities without commercial service.

“Throughout the current pandemic, business aircraft have helped transport test samples to labs, cutting the wait time for results in half, and are now helping to distribute the vaccine to rural and remote communities. We appreciate the Governor’s proclamation, which highlights the importance of general aviation, including business aviation.”

And Jim Viola president and CEO of Helicopter Association International said, “General aviation, which includes helicopters, is an important resource that supports business and public safety needs. Tennessee has a lot of diverse terrain, and helicopters are instrumental in supporting law enforcement, health care delivery, and many critical services.”

According to the proclamation: “The State of Tennessee has a significant interest in the continued vitality of general aviation, aerospace, aircraft manufacturing, educational institutions and aviation organizations and community airports and airport operators”

Tim Obitts, president and CEO of National Air Transportation Association, said, “General aviation and local airports support professional, high-skill careers that sustain the economy and the state. In fact, in Tennessee, general aviation business tenants generate more than $600 million per year.”

Jack Pelton, CEO of Experimental Aircraft Association added, “Our nation is facing a pilot shortage in the coming decades, and network of general aviation airports and 19 EAA chapters across Tennessee will play a critical role in developing the next generation of pilots. We thank Governor Lee for issuing this proclamation, which will help to raise enthusiasm among young aviators and build our future workforce.”

And Greg Pecoraro, president and CEO of National Association of State Aviation Officials, said, “Our national network of airports are a critical part of our transportation infrastructure. These airports support businesses, farmers, law enforcement, medical transportation, and disaster relief. We thank the governor, and Aeronautics Division Director Michelle Frazier for supporting this proclamation.”