After a breakthrough on the major logjam that was stalling passage of the FAA reauthorization bill in the Senate last week, it seems like members on both sides of the aisle are now anxious to chip in their changes. While it doesnt seem likely that any type of user fee amendment is waiting in the wings, the long list of proposed changesranging from a suggestion to ban peanuts on commercial airliners (allergy concerns) to equipage of helicopters with terrain and traffic awareness systemsseems destined to delay a vote on the bill until at least Thursday. As AVweb reported Monday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the aviation subcommittee and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) chairman of the finance committee agreed last Friday to scrap a proposal to impose a $25 per leg user fee on turbine-powered noncommercial aircraft.
The two agreed, instead, to hike taxes on jet fuel for general aviation aircraft to 36 cents a gallon from 21.8 cents. The hike is expected to raise $290 million a year, which would be spent exclusively on modernization of the FAAs air traffic control system. While the fundamentals of the deal are expected to survive, the Republican contingent in the Senate wants some changes made. Tighter inspections of airliners, a passenger bill of rights and maybe a return to negotiations between the agency and its air traffic controllers have all been mentioned as possible amendments.