Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Last year, I addressed the ongoing challenges surrounding the shortage of pilots and mechanics. As expected, this issue persists today and will continue into the foreseeable future. Long Island flight schools are operating at maximum capacity, and we see a surge of younger pilots finally entering the business aviation sector. However, with the severe shortage of airline pilots, there is a noticeable trend of 2000-hour corporate pilots transitioning to airlines due to more lucrative salaries, enhanced benefits, and a stable monthly schedule. Retaining corporate pilots, both first officers and captains, remains a significant challenge, a situation likely to persist until airline positions are adequately filled.
Specifically, here on Long Island, a more pressing concern emerges. A significant portion of aircraft managers and mechanics for the most part are in their 60s and many are contemplating retirement within the next five years. There is a very notable absence of mid-level mechanic/managerial personnel capable of replacing even the current crew chief levels. Adding to that is the ongoing construction of hangar facilities and aircraft moving into every airport from Republic to Gabreski. It’s easy to see that profound efforts need to begin to hire or train our replacements if we are to keep the system we all helped to create robust for years to come. Not easily done since managing an aircraft correctly requires years of experience across many areas of expertise besides being a competent skilled mechanic. We have always advocated the use of local interns in our workplaces when we can. Soon it may be the only way to supplement staff where we can keep up with the demand.
In looking ahead it’s clear that the home-grown talent pool needs to expand and become a steady labor force for the future. LIBAA board members continue to help promote business aviation to young people. We are scheduled to meet with numerous high school students and attend “Career Day” across Long Island. Our aim is to discuss the diverse career opportunities available in business aviation, emphasizing a personalized approach to guide individual students based on their unique interests.
In February, we actively participated in Aviation Advocacy Day at the state capital in Albany. Our Long Island team engaged with eight local delegates, including airport controlling senators Martinez and Thomas. The discussions encompassed five key topics, with a primary focus on urging their support against repealing the “Aviation Jobs Act,” which eliminated sales/use tax for New York aircraft. Additionally, we advocated for a $250 million allocation in the “New York Works” budget to support airport revenue generation and revitalization initiatives, alongside a proposal to increase the Aviation Capital Grant program from $12.5 million to $40 million annually. These efforts are ongoing throughout the year.
Offering some intriguing insights into New York’s aviation landscape, recent data reveals that the aviation sector contributes $80 billion annually to the state’s economic output. With 500,000 aviation-related jobs generating a payroll of $27.5 billion, and $6.1 billion in taxes collected. The industry has witnessed remarkable growth that contributed to an additional $30 billion increase over the last decade. Clearly this is a direct effect of the professionalism and dedication of all the hard working and talented aviation professionals from every sector here on Long Island.
On a more social note, our 2024 Golf event is slated for May 22nd at the Rock Hill Country Club in Manorville. This event, renowned for fostering networking, reconnecting with old acquaintances, and providing a break from the aviation routine, promises an enjoyable experience for all attendees. Additionally, our I.A. renewal training will take place on March 12th at Executive Fliteways in Ronkonkoma, offering in-person training. A welcomed change from our computer-based training that is so common now.
For those interested in actively contributing to LIBAA, we invite you to become committee members, engaging in areas such as government affairs, career development, industry news, and more. This involvement offers a fantastic opportunity for networking, skill expansion, and leveraging your expertise to advance local aviation causes. If you are ready to give back to our industry, please reach out to any board member expressing your interest.
A special thank you to Doris. Her exceptional skills in organizing golf, Christmas, and networking events make her irreplaceable. Her unique touch, genuine warmth and concern for people has truly enriched all our endeavors. We are all sincerely grateful for her dedication.
In closing, on behalf of all of us at LIBAA, we extend our heartfelt wishes for good health, happiness, and prosperity to you, your families, and friends throughout 2024 and the years to come.