HAI’s Government Affairs team covers the congressional briefing on aviation gas and the EPA’s endangerment findings, the first electric air taxi demo flights in New York City, and the latest efforts in Torrance, California, to impose aircraft landing fees. In addition, HAI’s Northeast US regional representative provides an update of his activities.

Congressional Update

General Aviation Caucus Conducts Briefing on Aviation Gasoline

Summary of Facts
Last week, the General Aviation Caucus and the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee hosted a briefing on unleaded fuel and the Environmental Protection Agency’s endangerment findings. HAI was grateful for the opportunity to brief members of Congress and staff on this important topic, alongside several other aviation organizations, including EAA, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, National Business Aviation Association, National Air Transportation Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and American Association of Airport Executives.

HAI Position and Actions
John Shea, HAI’s senior director of government affairs, emphasized the association’s active involvement in the Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions (EAGLE) initiative and reaffirmed the industry’s commitment to transitioning to lead-free fuels for piston-engine aircraft by 2030. Emphasizing collaboration between industry and government, Shea highlighted progress among stakeholders and urged prioritizing safety in the transition.

Shea provided the perspective of the vertical aviation industry, noting that approximately 25% of the US civilian helicopter fleet is piston powered. He explained that while many of these helicopters are approved to use UL 91/94 fuel, there is currently no approved high-octane unleaded fuel for piston helicopters. This underscores the need to ensure the availability of current fuels at airports.

State and Local Updates

First AAM Flights at New York City Heliport

Summary of Facts
Last week, HAI members Joby Aviation Inc. and Volocopter achieved a milestone with the first-ever demonstration flight of an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi in New York City.
The flight originated from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport (KJRB) during an event hosted by New York City Mayor Eric Adams and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President and CEO Andrew Kimball to announce the city’s commitment to electrify the heliport. This move positions the state of New York as a frontrunner in advanced air mobility (AAM). Mayor Adams expressed his support for vertical flight infrastructure, focusing on the initial steps being undertaken to establish the heliport as a unique hub for sustainable transportation and deliveries.

HAI Position and Actions
HAI President and CEO James Viola and the Government Affairs team were excited to join Joby Aviation, Volocopter, and Beta Technologies as they showcased their cutting-edge eVTOL vehicles and charging technologies.

City of Torrance, California, Considers Assessing Airport Landing Fees

Summary of Facts
A planned public hearing on airport landing fees and whether to amend the Torrance Municipal Code related to these fees was deferred until Nov. 28.

Earlier this year, Torrance’s city council approved the implementation of landing fees at Zamperini Field (KTOA). The city council held a public hearing about the adoption of an ordinance to amend the municipal code and a resolution to establish the landing fee rate. During its July meeting, the city council requested specific restrictions and exemptions for landing fees. These include charging the fees to transient aircraft and flight schools with three or more aircraft, with exemptions for military, public safety, medical, and Torrance-based rotary-wing aircraft manufacturers.

Following consultation with the City Attorney’s Office, an alternative ordinance has been prepared for council consideration. This alternative proposes uniform application of landing fees to all aircraft, with exemptions limited to military, public safety, and medical aircraft landing at the airport.

HAI Position and Actions
HAI opposes the adoption of airport landing fees in the city of Torrance.

Applying landing fees to flight schools with three or more aircraft may impede training programs by increasing costs, which could hinder skilled professional development in vertical flight. This could be counterproductive to industry growth and sustainability.

Implementing landing fees across the board may harm the competitiveness of Torrance’s general aviation industry compared to regions with more favorable fee structures. This could potentially shift industry activities away from the local economy and job market.

We encourage Torrance officials to ensure thorough consultation with industry stakeholders in developing the proposed ordinance. Without industry input, regulations may not align with practical needs and considerations of those directly affected.

News from HAI’s Northeast US Regional Representative

By Josh Rousseau, HAI Northeast US Regional Representative

It’s been a busy month serving as HAI’s new Northeast US regional representative.

In September, I attended the Eastern Regional Helicopter Council Annual Fall Conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I had an opportunity to meet with representatives and industry experts including Airbus Helicopters, HeliFlite Shares, Flight Safety International, Air Pegasus, and many other operators. We discussed current issues of concern and areas of need.

While there, I participated in the unveiling of the newly reenergized Northeast Heliport & Infrastructure Task Force, of which I’m a member on behalf of HAI. Collectively, we had very productive conversations about all things New York City heliports and, specifically, the potential negative impact of the pending multibillion-dollar Gateway project on the West 30th Street Heliport (KJRA). We also dove deep into discussions about previous and pending legislation around the region—New York State, New York City, New Jersey, and Massachusetts—that could or will adversely affect our industry. Lastly, we touched on the status of East Hampton Airport (KJPX) and the challenges our industry still faces from local opposition to sound and routing issues.

In early October, I participated in the Trenton–Mercer County Helicopter Operators Roundtable/Info Share, where I had the opportunity to meet with local operators including Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer, and New Jersey State Police and FAA experts to share information and discuss local challenges including New York City heliport issues of mutual concern.

Let’s keep the innovation and collaboration going while we keep the rotors turning!

Authors

  • Cade Clark

    VAI’s chief government affairs officer, 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.

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  • John Shea

    John Shea is VAI’s senior director of government affairs. He came to the association in 2019 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.

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  • Katia Veraza

    Katia Veraza is VAI’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.

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  • Josh Rousseau

    Josh Rousseau is HAI’s Northeast US regional representative. Before joining HAI, Josh worked at the highest levels of New York State government for nearly 25 years.

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Cade Clark

Cade Clark

VAI’s chief government affairs officer, 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.