Aviation Summit Focuses On Funding, NextGen

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About 200 industry leaders met in Washington, D.C., last week for the 8th Annual Aviation Summit. The summit, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, brings together experts from government agencies, airlines and aviation advocacy groups. NextGen was a hot topic on the agenda, as was the future of aviation funding and the impact of economic uncertainty. NBAA President Ed Bolen was among those advocating for quicker progress on NextGen. "The general aviation community has been a tireless advocate for modernization of the aviation system," he said. "Accelerating the transition to NextGen will advance important national objectives like expanding system capacity and reducing congestion, reducing long-term costs to the FAA, enhancing safety and even reducing the industry's environmental footprint. We come together recognizing that a unified industry presents a great opportunity to make that a reality." AOPA President Craig Fuller led the summit's panel discussion on NextGen. He said system modernization is crucial, and he added that under the Obama administration's budget plan the general-fund contribution to the FAA would be reduced and about $7 billion a year in user fees would be added.

Bolen said modernization should be funded through the proven, efficient fuel tax, and no new funding mechanisms or user fees are needed. "All great economies in the history of the world have achieved greatness because of mobility," Bolen said at the summit. "In these difficult economic times, everyone in the industry must work together to ensure that mobility is understood to be a national priority." The summit included a new Aviation Showcase, featuring the latest innovations and technologies from the commercial, cargo, business, military, and space aviation industries.