...Crisis, What Crisis?
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) weighed in with a 52-page analysis (pdf file) of not only the FAA's funding situation but a comparison with the way other countries fund and manage their aviation systems. NATCA's broad conclusion is that aviation affects virtually all facets of modern life and should therefore be a shared burden. The report, authored by NATCA Executive Vice President Ruth Marlin, acknowledges that direct consumers of aviation activities (i.e., passengers and cargo customers) should pay a significant portion of the FAA's costs but "they should not be required to fund the entire cost as there is a portion of the costs that is clearly in the public interest and therefore appropriately funded by the general treasury." The FAA's Martin said it's a simplistic argument considering the other pressures facing the government. "It's interesting to note that they were the only ones who suggested there isn't a funding problem," Martin said. He said those in aviation sometimes lose sight of the fact that it's really a small slice of a much bigger pie. "[The government] always has equally compelling and competing national interests [outside aviation] to consider," he said. "The trend in the general fund contribution is clear and an increased contribution is unlikely to be a long-term solution."