HAI’s Government Affairs team on the latest US and European news driving the vertical aviation industry, including an appeal for your help to save a valuable heliport!


Call to Action: We Need YOU to Help Us Save the Indianapolis Downtown Heliport (8A4)!

The Problem
The Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) has proposed to permanently close the Indianapolis Downtown Heliport (8A4) so it can use the land for nonaeronautical uses. On Feb. 7, the FAA issued a proposal to close the heliport, and we need YOU to submit comments to keep the facility open.

Our industry strongly urges the FAA to immediately reject the IAA’s request for the release of federal obligations that is a necessary predicate to closing 8A4. The vertical flight industry strongly supports keeping 8A4 in operation, for the following reasons:

  • Aviation infrastructure is the backbone of our nation’s economy
  • The Indianapolis Downtown Heliport serves as an important connector for daily helicopter operations
  • The heliport supports public use, emergency medical services (including organ transplants for local area hospitals), and law enforcement
  • Due to its convenient downtown location, the facility provides ready access to major sporting complexes and other business travel venues
  • The heliport can serve as a strategic staging point in times of natural disaster or other emergencies, providing for the ability to transport critical supplies and responders as well as evacuation
  • Advanced air mobility (AAM) promises to revolutionize the way people and goods move in, around, and between urban and rural locations. Now is not the time to remove infrastructure or hinder progress for AAM.

How You Can Help
We need your help submitting public comments on the FAA’s proposal to close the heliport. Comments to the Federal Register are due by Mar. 9, so we need you to act now! Click here to submit an HAI-endorsed, prewritten comment directly to the FAA in three simple steps:

  1. View and customize your comments to FAA in the right-hand column. Personalizing your comments will have a greater impact. To submit the email, you will need to make some edits to the template language. This ensures that unique comments are submitted to the Federal Register.
  2. Enter your contact information.
  3. Submit your comments!

We need your voice to show support for vertical aviation! Please click here now to submit your comments. Make sure to share this link with your friends and colleagues, as well.

HAI Submits Joint Testimony Regarding Hawaii SB969
This past Tuesday, Hawaii’s Senate Committee on Transportation and Culture and the Arts (TCA) held a hearing regarding SB969 (HB1201 companion bill). SB969 establishes that noise generated by helicopters in excess of a certain decibel level is a public nuisance and considered a source of noise pollution in violation of the state’s noise pollution law. If enacted, the bill would establish fines and a private right of action for individuals to sue helicopter owners and operators for creating a public nuisance.

Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez, just as she did with HB1202 last week, submitted testimony during this week’s SB969 hearing stating that “the responsibility of regulating air traffic, and the noise related to that air traffic, belongs exclusively to the federal government, and any state or municipal effort to regulate in this area is subject to constitutional challenge and will be preempted by federal law.”

At the end of the hearing, TCA Committee Chairman Sen. Chris Lee (D-Hawaii) noted the issues raised by stakeholders and the attorney general and added a defective date to the measure to ensure further discussion of the bill. SB969 passed with an amendment for the report title to read “Helicopters; Noise Pollution; Public Nuisance; Fines; Private Right of Action; Exceptions.” It will head to the Judiciary Committee.

Just as we did with HB1201, HAI submitted a joint written testimony with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association expressing our strong opposition to SB969. Click here to read HAI’s written testimony.

Hearing on the FAA’s NOTAM System Failure and Its Impacts on a Resilient National Airspace
US Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, convened a full committee hearing Feb. 15 to review the causes and impacts of the January Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system outage and the FAA’s actions to strengthen the resiliency and reliability of the system. The hearing also reviewed the challenges of modernizing the national air traffic system and maintaining legacy technology.

During the hearing, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), chair of the panel’s aviation subcommittee, stated that the FAA is extremely behind on updating the system. Furthermore, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), ranking member of the committee, said he intends to examine the consequences of not having a confirmed FAA administrator and how that affects air travel and safety.

Also during the hearing, FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen testified before the committee to discuss last month’s failure of its pilot alert system, which paused all departures in the United States. During his testimony, Nolen stated that contract personnel unintentionally deleted files while working to correct synchronization between two databases.

After the incident, the FAA implemented a synchronization delay to ensure that bad data from a database cannot affect a backup database. Nolen also said that the modernization work includes transitioning away from the legacy portion of the NOTAM system.

The FAA expects the transition to be complete by 2025. The agency’s NOTAM modernization effort’s objective is to provide NOTAMs that are complete, accurate, timely, and relevant to safe flight operations.

Nolen also testified that the FAA currently manages three airspace systems, with the third being the future. Nolen announced that this third airspace system is the system that must accommodate new entrants “including drones, advanced air mobility aircraft, commercial spacecraft, and other new aircraft yet to be imagined. It will involve autonomous aircraft, data exchanges, and a dynamic airspace.” For the FAA to sustain, implement, and plan for all these systems, Congress and the FAA must work together.

Furthermore, Nolen issued a “call to action” earlier this week to “examine the US aerospace system’s structure, culture, processes, systems, and integration of safety efforts.” Nolen also intends to convene a safety summit in March with commercial and private aviation leaders, labor groups, and others to explore additional actions.

Readers interested in watching the hearing can do so here.

Senate Plans Nomination Hearing for FAA Nominee
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, says President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the FAA, Phil Washington, is expected to get a nomination hearing on Mar. 1.

New EU Rules on Dedicated Airspace for Drones Enter into Force
As of January 2023, European Union (EU) rules establishing a dedicated airspace for drones (U-space) are in effect. These rules allow operators to provide a wider range of services than before. The U-space creates conditions for both drones and crewed aircraft to operate safely and will allow the industry to continue scaling up the market for the drone industry and services.

The new rules will notably help carry out more complex and long-distance operations, particularly in low-level and densely operated airspace and when out of sight of the remote pilot. Such operations can cover vital services such as the transport of medical samples, first responder assistance, and remote infrastructure inspections.

The European Commission adopted the legal framework for this uncrewed traffic management system in April 2021. The next steps will involve EU member states designating their U-space areas and service providers and working on information exchange and navigation performance standards. These technological developments will gradually support the full implementation of U-space by 2030, as envisioned by the Drone Strategy 2.0, and could lead to innovative air mobility services such as fully automated passenger transport services.

The Path to Net-Zero
Last week, the European Commission unveiled its highly anticipated communication coined the Green Deal Industrial Plan. The communication aims to give direction to Europe’s net-zero industrial transformation. It recontextualizes various upcoming and ongoing initiatives into a coherent plan to boost green industries and overcome supply chain and competitiveness issues.

The four-pillared plan is a notable geopolitical move as Europe sets course to leverage its economic instruments to boost its strategic autonomy and resilience. This action comes amid concerns over the fairness of trade and competition because of foreign subsidy schemes, such as the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) or China’s 14th Five-Year Plan. Therefore, Europe’s plan aims to ensure the bloc is a global front-runner in the net-zero economy and remains an attractive location to host net-zero industries.

The commission has also announced the Net-Zero Industry Act, a new proposal that will be initiated in March. The act will specifically focus on boosting Europe’s capacity to manufacture net-zero technologies. To fund this, the commission aims to redirect money from Repower EU, stating these funds are no longer necessary. The commission will also discuss the formulation of an EU sovereignty fund that will provide structural funding to support green technologies.

Furthermore, the commission plans to enable a more assertive use of state aid by member states, a position that has triggered a mixed response across Europe.

Stakeholder Conference on Mitigating the Social Impact of the Transition to Automation and Digitalization in Transport
This year, the European Commission plans to issue a recommendation on means to mitigate the impact of the transition to automation and digitalization on the transport workforce. The commission presented its Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy of 82 initiatives that will guide the European Union’s work for the next four years.

This strategy lays the foundation for how the European Union transport system can achieve green and digital transformation and become more resilient to future crises. As outlined in the European Green Deal, the result will be a 90% cut in emissions by 2050, delivered by a smart, competitive, safe, accessible, and affordable transport system.

As outlined in the strategy, automation and digitalization in the transport sector are creating new challenges for the transport workforce. Yet at the same time, digital transformation presents new opportunities, especially for women and young people.

To prepare the recommendation, the commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport will organize a participatory stakeholder conference. During the event, the directorate-general will discuss and review the draft text to ensure the recommendation is useful for all relevant stakeholders from all modes of transport. Click here to learn more.


  • Cade Clark

    HAI’s VP of government affairs, Cade Clark has directed association advocacy programs for over 20 years. Growing up, he worked at an FBO where Cade learned to fly, washed planes, got in the mechanics’ way, idolized the old-timers and their stories, and deepened his love for all things general aviation.

  • John Shea

    John Shea joined HAI as director of government affairs in 2019. He came to HAI from the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), where he was interim president in 2018 and lead government affairs representative since 2017. Previously, as a legislative staffer, John advised multiple members of Congress on transportation policy.

  • Katia Veraza

    Katia Veraza is HAI’s manager of government affairs and regional relations. Prior to joining the association, Katia was a managing consultant for government affairs. She earned her master’s degree in political science from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Cade Clark

Cade Clark

HAI’s VP of government affairs, Cade Clark has directed association advocacy programs for over 20 years. Growing up, he worked at an FBO where Cade learned to fly, washed planes, got in the mechanics’ way, idolized the old-timers and their stories, and deepened his love for all things general aviation.