...NBAA, GAMA, EAA Hope For Swift Passage

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Not all aviation lobbyists are in alignment with NATCA's staunch opposition to the FAA bill now in the Senate. NBAA President Shelley Longmuir praised the House for passing the act, and called on the Senate to quickly get it approved. "This legislation provides for a strategic investment in an industry that feeds our national, regional and local economic engines," Longmuir said in a news release last Friday. "Passage of this bill will inject nearly $60 billion of critical and timely investment in the nation's aviation system." The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) also applauded the House vote. "This is a very important and much needed bill. We are glad to see it finally moving forward and we hope the Senate will quickly pass it," said GAMA President Ed Bolen. EAA has also come out in favor of the bill. NBAA said that of particular importance to the general aviation community is the bill's call for increased investment in GA airports, $100 million in aid to GA entities harmed by the events of Sept. 11, and a plan to restore access for all security-qualified GA operators to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). GAMA said it thinks concerns about privatization need to be put in perspective. "Although GAMA strongly opposes privatization, we do not sense any reason to believe privatization will be a possibility throughout the duration of this bill," GAMA said in a news release. "The Bush Administration has never proposed privatization, the FAA Administrator has said the Administration is not pursuing privatization, and the House and Senate are on record opposing privatization. In such an environment, it seems prudent to stop debating the issue and move forward." AOPA spokesman Andy Cebula said in a news release last week that AOPA is "very concerned by the lack of protection for ATC in the compromise bill. We don't want ATC to be turned over to a private company as Canada and the United Kingdom have done. It just opens the door to a user-fee-based system."