By many metrics, 2020 was a difficult year. I won’t sugarcoat the fact that certain parts of the aviation industry in our state and throughout the country have seen significant negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. That being said, I believe growing positive trends and an approved vaccine provide us with reasons to start the new year with a positive outlook. I also acknowledge that we must have an awareness that we are entering a time where continued perseverance is required.
A new legislative session has arrived for us in North Dakota and community leaders around the state will be hard at work discussing how to best position our state over the next biennium. As requested by the governor, the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) has successfully re-prioritized our budget and I believe that our initial agency bill provides a strategically sound starting point. I look forward to having conversations with our elected leaders to discuss our industry’s current situation and I will work hard to advise on an appropriate pathway that will support our airports and aviation industry as we recover from the pandemic.
I want to encourage all of you to stay engaged with the legislative process by keeping in touch with your legislators and by utilizing the Legislative Council bill tracking system, which can be found at www.legis.nd.gov. As legislation comes forward regarding elements that have a factor in aviation, I will be in direct communication with the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) and the Airport Association of North Dakota (AAND) as we work through any critical issues. I also encourage you to contact me to share any concerns or relevant information that you may have on pending legislation.
Outside of the legislative session, the NDAC is also continually working with our federal funding partners to fully understand their grant programs and eligibility criteria, as we want to have high priority shovel-ready projects ready to go as funding becomes available. Though we currently do not know what our future has in store, we need to make sure that we are not complacent and that we position ourselves to be prepared to accept any challenges or opportunities that arise in the near term.
I also hope that you are able to join us March 8-9 for the virtual FLY-ND conference. As always, your NDAA board members and volunteers have been hard at work preparing an exceptional program for all aviation enthusiasts to enjoy. Though we are unable to come together in person this year, I sincerely hope you are able to take the time to celebrate aviation with us at our state’s first ever virtual conference.
Wishing you smooth flying,