House Passes NextGen Funding, No User Fees (Sort Of)

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The House of Representatives Friday passed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009, which would provide funding for the FAA and NextGen development in part through an increase in general aviation fuel taxes. The action brought praise from some camps -- the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). Funding through aviation fuel taxes (not other user fees) is also supported by AOPA. The bill is very similar to the last proposed reauthorization bill, which was introduced in 2007, passed by the House and then stalled in the Senate. The FAA has been operating under a series of funding extensions ever since. The new long-term funding afforded by the reauthorization bill currently avoids user fees other than fuel taxes. It also attempts to address concerns about foreign-based Part 145 repair facilities by requiring two annual inspections by FAA representatives. While NATA had concerns that inspections might jeopardize some trade agreements with foreign carries all the groups mentioned here have generally positive comments when it comes to fuel and ticket taxes.

Said AOPA president Craig Fuller, "Aviation fuel taxes collected at the pump and ticket taxes collected at the counter, combined with a healthy contribution from the general tax fund, remain the best way to pay for the nation's aviation system." Speaking for NBAA, President and CEO Ed Bolen said, "We commend the House of Representatives for passing this legislation to fund the FAA and accelerate NextGen using the long-established aviation fuel tax to help pay for system modernization." NATA president Jim Coyne "applauded" the House for approving a bill "void of user fees" that provides "a fair jet fuel tax increase" while applying required NextGen funding.