...AOPA And NATCA Respond

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NATCA didn't even wait for Blakey to give the speech before going on the attack. In a news release sent out the day before, NATCA predicted Blakey would paint a "rosy picture" of the state of the nation's aviation system -- a picture that NATCA sees very differently. NATCA cited inadequate staffing, outdated and broken-down equipment, and management denials that safety issues exist. On Tuesday, AOPA chimed in that the new Flight Plan is still improperly focused on user fees. "There is a fundamental disagreement between the FAA and AOPA about whether the aviation trust fund is running out of money," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "As I testified before Congress, even the White House Office of Management and Budget is forecasting continued growth in the fund, and the fiscal year 2005 numbers bear this out." The Flight Plan also ignored the effects of temporary flight restrictions and ADIZ proliferation on GA, AOPA said. But it did have some good things for GA in it: "Customers want us to move faster to develop WAAS approaches for [smaller] airports or allow contractors to develop them. And we are," said the FAA. And something that will have long-term implications for aircraft owners: The FAA promised it would make a decision about nationwide implementation of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) by July. ADS-B can replace aging and expensive radar and secondary beacon systems. AOPA is participating in FAA planning activities to ensure that any ADS-B implementation is acceptable and affordable for GA users. The FAA also acknowledged an improving long-term trend in GA safety. "Through the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Air Safety Foundation, we've made online safety courses available on specific topics, including runway safety, night flying, and mountain flying," the FAA Flight Plan said.