HAI’s Government Affairs team covers joint coalition support for FAA resources, the president’s budget request, a Senate hearing on the aviation workforce, and a DOT announcement about Phil Washington.

HAI HELI-EXPO 2023: A Busy Time for HAI’s Government Affairs Team
The international vertical aviation community gathered last week at HAI HELI-EXPO 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia, demonstrating a robust appetite for in-person education, networking, and sales. More than 12,400 industry professionals from 97 countries attended the four-day show produced by Helicopter Association International (HAI). The show featured 639 exhibitors and 49 aircraft on display.

The Government Affairs team provided legislative updates to numerous HAI working groups that held meetings at the Expo, and John Shea, director of government affairs, presented a members-only session, “Communicating Your Value to Elected Officials,” as part of Communications University for Small Businesses on Mar. 9. The team also participated in the National Parks Overflights Advisory Group (NPOAG) meeting to discuss recent FAA and National Parks Service work on Air Tour Management Plans (ATMPs). It was great to meet so many members in person! We look forward to seeing you next year in Anaheim, California.

Joint Coalition Letter Supports Increased Funding for FAA Resources
Last week, HAI along with general aviation industry leaders, wrote a coalition letter expressing our support for a safe, dependable, and modernized air traffic control (ATC) system. The letter commended the administration for a budget recommending increased funding for the FAA in FY 2024 and noted that more can and needs to be done to better balance not only the maintenance and sustainability of the ATC system but also the modernization of that system.

The general aviation industry has growing concerns about the urgent need for additional human and technological resources to ensure a healthy and scalable National Airspace System (NAS). The US aviation system remains the safest mode of transportation in the world. The letter stated that Congress must continue to develop an aviation safety culture and invest in both human and technological infrastructure to maintain and improve aviation’s safety record.

If interested, read our coalition letter.

Transportation Briefing: Budget Request Includes FAA Reauthorization Funding
Last week, President Biden released his budget request (presidential budgets represent what the White House wants policies to focus on). The White House is currently seeking $27.8 billion in discretionary spending for the Department of Transportation. That total includes $16.5 billion for the FAA, previewing its reauthorization due by Sept. 30, 2023. The White House says the funds would also support workforce development to meet the demand for more air traffic controllers.

The White House also requested $3.5 billion to modernize the National Airspace System as the FAA faces criticism for the system outage that grounded all national flights in January. This request would also accommodate new technologies, such as drones and commercial space aircraft.

The Biden administration stated that it wants the reauthorization bill to advance safety, improve systems, reduce emissions, and expand consumer protections. The budget also seeks continued investment to overhaul aircraft certification.

HAI Attends FAA Safety Summit
The FAA convened a safety summit this week to examine recent incidents seen throughout the National Airspace System, including close calls on runways and other operational events. The summit included aviation experts from all parts of the industry.

HAI attended the summit to provide our industry’s perspective on operations and safety and offer input about how to enhance our already robust safety net with concrete actions. HAI appreciates the opportunity to be part of the FAA Aviation Safety Summit to ensure safety remains the priority.

Senate Holds Hearing on Strengthening the Aviation Workforce
US Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, convened a full committee hearing titled “Strengthening the Aviation Workforce” on Thursday, Mar. 16. The hearing examined challenges facing the aviation workforce and identified solutions for improving the education, recruitment, hiring, training, and retention of workers in the aviation industry and at the FAA. The hearing examined opportunities to increase representation in and promote awareness of aviation careers. If interested, watch the hearing.

DOT Announces Phil Washington Does Not Need a Waiver
This week, a Department of Transportation (DOT) lawyer announced that Phil Washington does not require a waiver for his military service to assume the role of FAA administrator. As mentioned in our previous articles, the FAA is mandated by law to have a civilian leader, and retired military officers are required to attain waivers from Congress.

The DOT’s general counsel stated that Washington retired from military service 23 years ago and has since engaged solely in civilian pursuits. The counsel affirmed that Washington can continue his nomination without any special authorization. Some Senate Republicans publicly disagree with the counsel’s statement.


  • 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.