Gary Dempsey, the National Air Transportation Association’s new president, has a full range of issues to address and resolve, especially illegal charter. Also on his plate are the matters of bogus flight training, uncollected federal taxes, and internet flight sharing.

Dempsey is very new to the job. Asked late last month about a policy position, Dempsey hesitated, then joked, “This is my third day on the job. I just found the bathroom this morning.”

But the fact is he is well equipped and well informed to take the reins as the new president of NATA, the Washington lobbying body representing the nation’s charter operators and FBOs. Dempsey entered the general aviation business nearly five decades ago as an A&P mechanic and charter pilot in his native Delaware. Since then he’s run his own shop, and held training and management positions at Cessna, Beechcraft and Gulfstream. And served a decade as president of Jet Aviation.

Dempsey has been a NATA board member since 2012, so he knows the issues, obstacles and desired outcomes of its members.

Topping them all is the matter of illegal charter activity. Dempsey and his staff say the problem comes to the fore at every regional meeting with members. How big a problem? Legal operators says that the illegals represent half of all charter flights operating in and out of Birmingham, AL, for example. The problem is widespread, with states including Florida and Texas seeing “rampant” renegade flying.

Such flights come in a variety of forms, with the classic described by Dempsey: “Billionaires bragging about hitching rides with their buddy’s airplane,” crew included. Another tactic is the one-way flight lesson: the “student” sits in the right seat, the “instructor” in the left – and the wife and kids in back. The flight goes from Airport A to Airport B, whereupon the “student” – quite possibly having not touched the controls – exits along with his entourage, his piloting aspirations fully satisfied.

A third scenario involves operators with a turboprop on their FAR135 certificates offering charters in light jets. An owner might be completely unaware that the charter flights in his aircraft are not only illegal, but that the burden – and liability – of operational control rests with him, not the charter provider.

Considered separately, NATA holds that instigators behind all such schemes are “the criminal, the careless or the clueless” – and it’s working to address all three.

The association has created an illegal charter hotline (888-759-3581) to the Air Charter Safety Foundation via which members can report suspected or known violations. In addition, NATA urges such reporters to also submit details via email. In the past, some complained that FAA failed to follow up such reports, but the association has created a task force that works to inform both the industry and the agency and provide the latter with more actionable data. It also works closely with FAA’s Special Emphasis Investigation Team to identify miscreants.

Furthermore, NATA is encouraging FAA to act more speedily on applications for adding aircraft to existing FAR135 certificates. In some cases, it has taken up to six months or more to approve such extensions, frustrating operators and possibly resulting in ad hoc action.

Charter customers must pay a federal excise tax for the service they provide, something invariably overlooked when the ride is illicit – a federal crime. NATA has raised the alarm with the Internal Revenue Service, which is always on the hunt for tax cheats and additional revenue.

Somewhat related to its concern over illegal charters was digital delivery of ride sharing. FAA permits private pilots to divvy up flight expenses with friends and family along for the ride. However, some entrepreneurs invited pilots to post their planned flights on websites with the intention of inviting strangers to ride along and share costs.

NATA viewed this as a corruption of the activity’s proviso that the pilot and riders have a “common purpose” and that simply going from A to B does not qualify. FAA and the courts agreed, and while there was some recent activity in Congress to expand ride sharing’s provision, the current FAA reauthorization bill – at NATA’s urging – prevents that.

Other issues confronting the new president include the growing shortage of pilots and mechanics (a problem particularly acute among worried small operators), the successful implementation of the Transportation Department’s new rules for charter brokers (11 years in gestation), and the resolution of complaints by AOPA regarding what it says are usurious charges and lack of ramp access at some single FBO airports.