President's 2004 FAA Budget Raises Eyebrows, But No Alarms

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President Bush last week released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2004, and so far, GA groups seem to be more-or-less okay with it. The FAA would get about $14 billion, an increase of about 3 percent over the previous year. The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) checked over the plan and gave it a passing grade -- with some reservations -- noting that it abides by the funding guarantees established by the Aviation Investment and Reform Act (AIR-21) for airport development and infrastructure. AOPA scrutinized the proposal and found no hidden user fees and no nefarious attempts to privatize air traffic control. NATA raised concern over a decline in funding for the Facilities and Equipment and Research, Engineering and Development accounts. "The future of aviation rests with this country's endeavors and advancements in modern technology," said NATA President James Coyne. "Funding reductions in these two accounts at this critical stage within the aviation industry is not the correct course to sail." AOPA President Phil Boyer also noted that, because the administration has classified ATC as a service that could be commercialized, "We will have to remain vigilant." In any case, the budget for fiscal year 2003 has not yet been agreed upon, so this Bush budget plan is simply the start of a long and torturous road.

NOTE: Click here to download the complete text of the FAA FY2004 budget, in Adobe's Portable Document Format.