Alphabets Rap New FAA Bill

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A compromise bill on FAA budget reauthorization is meeting swift -- and predictable -- opposition from the aviation sector it hits hardest. The National Business Aviation Association has come out swinging against the bill proposed by Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Trent Lott, R-Miss., that would shift all of the burden of general aviation user fees to smaller turbine aircraft. "It is regrettable that at a critical point in our transformation to the Next Generation Air Traffic System, the bill is proposing a sharp pivot away from a proven funding structure toward the foreign-style user fees that have been so harmful to small aircraft operators outside the U.S," NBAA President Ed Bolen said in a news release. AOPA was more conciliatory, but nonetheless opposed to the principles involved in the bill. In a news release, AOPA President Phil Boyer said that while the bill addresses many of the aviation community's concerns about the combination of increased fuel taxes and user fees proposed by the FAA, it misses a fundamental point. "This bill is a lot better than the FAA's proposed legislation," said Boyer. "Our thanks to Senators Rockefeller and Lott, as they intend to keep piston-powered general aviation taxes right where they are today. But we have real concerns about the precedent-setting introduction of user fees and the impacts on our members who fly turbine aircraft." Under the bill, piston aircraft would be exempt from any increases but turbine-powered aircraft flying IFR would be subject to a fee of $25, ostensibly to pay for airspace modernization. The bill also proposes doubling the tax on jet fuel from 24 cents to 49 cents a gallon.