Oct. 25, 2021

Advocacy for general aviation in Utah recently received a big boost with the formation of the Utah Aviation Coalition, a group of eight aviation associations and other organizations that span virtually all general aviation interests in the state.

With the participation of groups such as the Utah Business Aviation Association (UBAA), the Utah Airport Operators Association (UAOA), the Utah General Aviation Association (UGAA), the Utah Back Country Pilots Association and others, the coalition is optimistic that it will enhance focus and support for general aviation in the Beehive State.

“We wanted to have a bigger voice in the state, in particular with regard to how state aviation funds are allocated,” said Rich Stehmeier, chairman of UAOA. “One of our key goals is to make sure that the money in the aviation fund, which is supposed to be restricted to aviation interests, is used properly.” Stehmeier noted that the aviation fund is supported by fuel taxes and aircraft registration fees, and along with matching FAA grants must be used exclusively for aviation improvements in Utah.

Stehmeier also hopes the clout of an all-state aviation coalition will positively impact the influence of general aviation with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), of which the Division of Aeronautics is a relatively small part.

Jeff Hansen, chairman of UBAA, noted that coalition is already working closely with several state legislators, informing them about the need to protect the restricted fund and their concerns about how the state will pay for some potential aircraft purchases it is considering. According to Hansen, all the groups in the coalition have a stake in how aviation fund monies are spent, especially since they are vital to helping receive matching grants from the FAA.

“The business aviation community in Utah needs more resources at small airports,” said Hansen. “Having adequate funds for runway extensions, other airport improvements, pilot resources and more will help both aviation interests as well as the local communities who rely on their services.”

Kristi Ivey, NBAA’s Northern Mountain regional representative, noted that “the leaders of the aviation associations in the state of Utah have spearheaded this collective dialogue around common goals and interests that can only serve to enhance what is already a robust aviation community within the state, while also supporting local airports and infrastructure.”

Learn more about the Utah Business Aviation Association.