User Fees And General Aviation…

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FAA Asks For Industry Input

The FAA says its main funding source, the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, is going broke and now is the time to start fixing it -- and it appears at least part of the solution will be found in pilots' wallets. Earlier this week, various industry groups, from pilots associations to airlines, began receiving a package from FAA Administrator Marion Blakey that includes a survey of sorts into how they'd like to pay to operate the agency after the current trust fund's mandate runs out in 2007. And make no mistake, the question is not whether the payments will be made, it's how much and by whom. A summary of the package appeared in Tuesday's Federal Register and says that user fees are a main focus of the discussion. "One major component of this work is an ongoing study that would allocate FAA's air traffic control costs to users of the system," the Federal Register document reads. The document says the trust fund balance is low and dropping and stable funding must be restored to keep the agency operating and to pay for new technology needed to cope with increasing demand. Fundamental to the new funding structure will be a link between the cost of the services provided and those who use the services. The FAA has spent much of the last year improving its cost accounting systems to provide the data it needs to get a handle on who pays for what.