GA Supporters Applaud Shelving Of FAA Funding Bill

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General aviation advocates cheered the demise of a controversial ATC privatization proposal as the latest version of the FAA reauthorization bill was shelved late Thursday. The decision by House of Representatives leaders to set aside the hotly debated spinoff plan allows GA to focus on other priorities that were rolled into the bill, including medical reform, AOPA said in reacting to the move. "Medical and certification reforms, long-term funding for projects like modernization, airports, and unleaded fuels — these are the issues that matter to the general aviation community," AOPA President Mark Baker said in a statement Friday. "Lawmakers understand this and AOPA will keep working with both houses of Congress to ensure that final legislation reflects those needs and protects the future of general aviation." 

According to a Politico report following Thursday's action, Congress will now work on extending FAA funding beyond its March 31 expiration and take up related issues back in committee. Senate leaders – who already had expressed concerns about the privatization idea – said they'd like to get their version of FAA reauthorization out for a full vote in April. Meanwhile, legislation to exempt private pilots flying light aircraft from third-class medicals is alive and well, EAA said Friday. "The Senate has already unanimously passed its legislation on this matter, so EAA aims to see it fully included in any Senate FAA reauthorization measure," said Jack Pelton, CEO and chairman. "We will also look for every possible opportunity for more favorable language now and in the future." Pelton called the removal of the ATC plan a "win" for GA. EAA rallied its members against the proposal in recent weeks, saying privatization would hurt GA access and give the lion's share of oversight to airlines.