FAA Fact Sheet Promotes Aviation User Fees

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The FAA is painting a dismal picture of its own performance in an unvarnished attempt to gather support for its controversial proposed aviation user-fee funding system. In a fact sheet released last week, the agency ties the funding package directly to modernization of airspace management, which has been nicknamed NextGen. “The Administration’s NextGen Financing Reform Act, sent to Congress in February, will provide a stable, cost-based revenue stream to fund the transition to NextGen,” the fact sheet reads. “The current tax system expires Sept. 30, so Congress must act now.” Without airspace modernization, the fact sheet warns, the system “will reach gridlock by 2015.” The fact sheet says one in four airline flights is delayed nationwide and, at the worst bottlenecks, 35 percent of flights arrive or depart late. It says the current system simply cannot handle expected growth in air traffic that will see the number of passengers increase from the current level of about 750 million annually to a billion by 2015. “Aviation’s ability to continue to play its traditionally dynamic role in our economy will be substantially diminished unless new NextGen technology and procedures are put in to place now,” the fact sheet warns. While virtually no one disputes the need to modernize the system, most general aviation groups -- as well as the DOT Inspector General and Government Accountability Office -- say the current system of fuel taxes on GA and ticket taxes on commercial aviation are adequate fund the transition.