Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association President and CEO Craig Fuller is becoming the third head of a general aviation association to step down in less than a year The association last week announced that Fuller is leaving the post he’s held since January 2009.
He has only been the fourth president of AOPA since its inception some 75 years ago. The AOPA statement indicated the Fuller had agreed to hold the post for five years when he took the job. Fuller will help in the process of searching for a successor and has agreed to remain with the association through the transition to a new leader.
Fuller has not been without controversy. His role in a wine club raised eyebrows, and the push by AOPA to expand its services in competition with industry generated pushback from several corners.
But most agree that he has been a strong and passionate industry advocate for his four-plus years he has led the association. His colleagues at other GA associations – including National Business Aviation Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association and National Air Transportation Association – all praised his collaborative approach, which they believe helped strengthen the voice of the industry.
"Craig has been a highly effective champion for the general aviation community, in large part because he has been a cohesive figure with a big-picture perspective," says National Business Aviation Association President and CEO Ed Bolen.
Fuller has been focused on the eroding pilot population, overseeing the creation of the new Center to Advance the Pilot Community and undertaking studies of flying clubs and flight training. He also had joined in on battles against user fees and has taken an active role in the development of NextGen, serving as the current chairman of RTCA.
The announcement comes just four months after Rod Hightower resigned suddenly from the Experimental Air Association after holding the position for less than two years. Jack Pelton stepped in as chairman while the search for a successor continues.
Also, NATA President James Coyne resigned last year, and Tom Hendricks was tapped to replace him.