The AIA and The Road Ahead
Welcome to the Aviation Instrument Association!
I am very proud of my long term affiliation with the Aviation Instrument Association as especially with my new role as its President. I recall a trip with my father in the early 1980s to my first AIA meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. The Association was in its infancy as I was entering what I envisioned as medical career after receiving my undergraduate degree. My father divorced his engineering practice and with the help of my mother started the family aircraft instrument business in 1970. By 1976 it had expanded into avionics and installation services and professional aviation associations were the glue that began to bond the aircraft industry together. Times were still tough for most of us in an industry where the financial rewards only seemed to go hand and hand with very large businesses. Despite the financial circumstances and time constraints, my father found the AIA a valuable afflation and even at my young age I did too. Following my father's unexpected death in 1986, I attended another AIA convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was personally looking for direction and I found it through the encouragement of many members of the AIA. The Association, however, was still struggling financially and some of the original founders were drifting off into other ventures. The AIA needed some new blood and the offices of Secretary and Treasurer were combined into one position. I was elected as the AIA's first all in one "Secretary-Treasurer" while leaving my medical orientation and picking up the pieces of my own crumbling world. Some people were telling me "the more you have to do the more you can do". That proved to be the case and although the challenges were great, I somehow found time to secure a family run business and its future as well as to cut costs and bring membership value into the mix for the AIA. I held the position for 7 years later transitioning from The Board of Directors to the Vice-President. The AIA was financially in the black by 1987 and has been that way ever since. My own family business continues to this day. The relationships that I built through the AIA were a big influence on the success of both organizations.
As we entered the new digital age of the 1990s, the AIA like many organizations went through some growing pains with a mix of the two worlds. The analog vs. digital struggle that began as a battle at first brought our industry amazing new technologies. Through proven reliability, the analog world still serves a significant purpose. Despite the great technological advances, analog instruments still adorn aircraft instrument panels in some form or another. The economic collapse of 2007 put our industry as well as many others on its knees. Many companies have gone out of business. Others have found opportunities elsewhere. These difficult economic circumstances have dictated that more aircraft owners and pilots hold on to their dollars and euros making do with what they have and continuing to repair what makes sense. Upgrades have been delayed or forgotten. Technology, however, continues to make the flying environment safer but the analog world continues to provide stable platforms on which electronic enhancements will make future sense. As most of us in this industry have reinvented our businesses as a means of survival, so goes the professional association of the AIA. As FAA mandates have dictated, training and access to current technical data have become the focus of our current mission. New issues and challenges arise periodically but all it takes is a look at our past and a look to where we once were making these matters look manageable. I look forward to having your input to help me steer the AIA in a direction that benefits all of us. Like my first impressions of the AIA many years ago, this is a worthwhile organization that is worthy of our time and input. Your membership is important not only for your own benefit, but for the very future existence of our industry. With your help and input the AIA will continue to develop stronger relationships with government, regulating agencies, and airframe manufacturers. The AIA will continue to build a membership of high standards companies that will promote quality, safety, and innovation throughout the aviation community. Above all, the AIA will continue to build business to business relationships.
I look forward to the years ahead and to growing with your member business and the Aviation Instrument Association.
Jeffrey A. Johnson