Aviation Funding Uncertain

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The DOT may not be able to fund aviation programs at levels previously assumed because of declines in actual revenues generated by the excise taxes that fund the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). In the report released last week the GAO says that going forward, the forecasts of future revenues have also declined corresponding with a drop in passenger traffic, airfares, and fuel consumption. On top of that, the Fund's uncommitted balance has been shrinking since 2001. The GAO also warned that timely reauthorization of the FAA's funding is important to the initiation of programs like NextGen infrastructure development. Meanwhile, AOPA has joined with 16 other industry groups in signing a letter that presses the House Transportation Committee to derive 25-percent of the FAA's budget from the general tax fund. That increase funds (up from 18 percent), according to the letter, could go a long way toward NextGen development.

NextGen air traffic control development will require an additional $1 billion per year to implement, according to AOPA. Extracting 25 percent from the General Fund "will generate huge economic and environmental benefits, as well as boost the economy as a whole," according to the joint letter.