Blakey Grilled On Fees, Fields, And FAA Funding

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FAA Administrator Marion Blakey says she can't tell the Senate whether user fees are planned for all or part of general aviation. Blakey told the Senate aviation subcommittee that because the funding package is currently under review by the administration, she couldn't talk about what, if any, user fees may be imposed (although we suspect that if they weren't being proposed she'd be able to say that). But she did say the current method of funding doesn't work. "At this point, our concern is that we are able to tie the costs of the system to the revenue and come up with a stable, cost-based system that is more equitable than the current system," she told the subcommittee. (Hear her own words in an AVweb audiocast that will be available for download April 7.) The administrator was also raked on the FAA's proposal to chop $1 billion from the airport improvement program. "I find it very shortsighted to cut rural airport funding at a time when aviation is seeing record numbers of passengers and projected traffic numbers," said subcommittee chairman Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) Blakey also couldn't put a number to the cost of modernizing the FAA.