"It's about time,” Bird said. "It's all about access. This is the secret of general aviation for business purposes.”
Bird praised lawmakers for passing legislation that would protect airports from encroaching land use, such as tall buildings or wind turbines.
General aviation also faces pressure to eliminate use of leaded fuel, which powers 167,000 piston-powered aircraft in the United States.
Lead boosts the octane of the fuel and protects aircraft engines, said Pete Bunce, president and chief executive officer of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
He said the industry is seeking to lower but not yet eliminate lead levels while aircraft are retrofitted with new fuel systems.
Bunce praised one Oklahoma company, General Aviation Modifications in Ada, for efforts to develop a new high-octane fuel formula that could meet mandates of the Clean Air Act to transition to unleaded fuel.
CONTRIBUTING: The Associated Press