FAA Budget Details Today

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We should find out today just what all the FAA’s political maneuvering and posturing of the past year or so were intended to do as the Bush administration releases its 2008 budget request. Somewhere in those trillions of dollars is the government’s plan to reshape the way the FAA is funded, and it has aviation groups on pins and needles. It’s pretty obvious from the way FAA Administrator Marion Blakey has been talking in the past 18 months that some form of user-fee system will be proposed, and that’s sure to dominate the political agendas of the alphabet groups this year. The authorization for the system of taxes that currently funds about 75 percent of the FAA’s budget (25 percent comes from general revenue) runs out at the end of September and, since the budget being released today kicks in at the same time, it should paint a clear picture of how the FAA wants to change the funding methods. The airlines have been lobbying hard for a pay-as-you-go system of user fees that is estimated to shift about $2 billion of cost to general aviation. General aviation groups claim the current system of fuel, ticket and cargo taxes accurately reflects a fair funding split because most GA flights happen outside the highly congested airline hubs that suck up a disproportionate amount of the FAA’s time and money.