Another Short-Term Fix For FAA

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Congress once again has delayed taking substantive action on FAA funding issues, as the House voted yesterday to extend the current FAA budget through mid-July. The FAA's budget is due to expire on March 31. Competing proposals in the House and Senate have failed to gain enough support for passage, as lawmakers argue over whether air traffic control should be privatized. The House transportation committee has proposed a bill that would extend FAA funding for six years, while the Senate transportation committee has proposed to provide funding only through September 2017. The Senate is expected to approve the four-month extension later this week.

Besides the extended funding cycle and privatized ATC, the legislation now under consideration could bring other changes that would affect general aviation. Issues in play, according to AOPA, include third-class medical reform, increases in Airport Improvement Program funding, streamlined certification for light GA aircraft, support for a transition to unleaded aviation fuel, and rule changes that would make it easier to install modern safety equipment in legacy aircraft. "There are a lot of moving parts right now," Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs, said this week. "But both the House and Senate have signaled their strong desire to reach an agreement on FAA reauthorization, and that's a hopeful sign. The FAA needs stability to effectively implement new and ongoing programs."