WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita made a stop in West Lafayette to talk about the future of aviation in the state.
Dozens of business owners, flight instructors and educators joined in the conversation. Rokita listened to concerns many people have with federal regulations holding back the industry.
“We have to look at aviation not as an expensive hobby for the rich, but as something that generates jobs that could really elevate the local economies all over the state of Indiana,” Rokita said. “Billions of dollars in revenue and also tens of thousands of jobs.”
Rokita said building up the industry will bring more jobs like GE Aviation to Indiana.
“Just like any other industry, we want to bring those businesses and that technology back,” Rokita said. “We want our Purdue graduates to have great jobs right here in Indiana and in the United States.”
Noting the impact the industry has on the state, Rokita also heard concerns from local businesses that rely on general aviation. Dozens of educators, airport managers and businesses expressed their concerns with federal guidelines that affect pilots and time spent in the cockpit.
“What I’m doing in Congress is trying to streamline those regulations that govern pilots — as to reduce their barriers to entry into the industry and also make it to operate these complex machines. But again technology has far surpassed where the regulations are, so we have to match those two up again,” Rokita said.
Aviation Association of Indiana President Andi Montgomery said having access to a nearby airport is key to bringing business to a community.
“Anybody who is looking to relocate, any of our companies, it’s always one of the top 10 questions,” Montgomery said. “Where is our closest general aviation airport?”
Greater Lafayette CEO Joe Seaman said the Purdue Airport opens a lot of opportunities locally.
“This is an absolutely great asset for us to have,” Seaman said. “Again, not only does it allow businesses to come here and visit us, but it also allows young students to get training and research which is the only kind we see sometimes around the country.”
Montgomery said discussions like this are key in staying in touch with other aviation partners across the state and a way to get their message to Washington.
“This was a great way to educate them as to what our issues are here, as well as educate all of us. Because if we stand together, there may be something happening at one airport that somebody from another has already solved,” Montgomery said.
The Congressman said he will take the concerns and advice shared today back to Washington to share with lawmakers.