NBAA: FAA Aviation User-Fee Plan Flawed

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Representing the general aviation community during a Senate aviation subcommittee hearing on FAA reauthorization on Thursday morning, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) president and CEO Ed Bolen urged lawmakers to immediately reject aviation user fees in any form, saying the proposal advocated by the airlines and FAA would be "disastrous" for the national aviation system and for businesses in rural area. During testimony, he maintained that the FAA's user-fee proposal would overthrow a funding structure that has proven to be "stable, reliable and growing" for more than 25 years. Bolen pointed out several shortcomings in the FAA's plan: a $600 million cut in FAA funding; allowing the FAA to go into deep debt, up to $5 billion, starting in 2013; and diversion of funds for ATC transformation to create a bureaucracy to assess and collect user fees. "Revenues going into the Airport and Airways Trust Fund are at record levels, and no less an authority than the Congressional Budget Office has said that the FAA will continue to have sufficient funds to fully support the transition to the Next Generation Air Traffic System," he told the subcommittee. Bolen also reminded lawmakers that in 1997 the airlines advocated that user fees were needed to overhaul aviation system funding, which would have shifted some $600 million in costs and reduced the role of Congress in aviation system oversight. "To everyone who was around the last time the nation's big airlines pushed that scheme, there is a strong sense of déjà vu," he said. "This time around, the airlines have picked a new target for their tax shift -- general aviation -- and they have increased the amount to $2 billion. The objective of reducing congressional control of the FAA remains unchanged."