AOPA: No User Fees (For Now)
Congress has extended the FAA's funding under current conditions, which means no new taxes or fess at least until Sept. 30, AOPA reported Friday. The extension allows Airport Improvement Program grants to be used by airports for construction season (a.k.a., summer). Operating under an extension doesn't change the rules, but multiple bills that support both fee-funded and non-fee-funded approaches to FAA reauthorization have been bouncing through the Senate like hot potatoes and AOPA President Phil Boyer is telling AOPA membership that "The bad news is that user fees still remain a possibility." AOPA says the Bush Administration has threatened to veto any bill that doesn't "...include user fees for anyone talking to ATC." The most recent bill presented to the full Senate included increases for jet fuel taxes, but excluded user fees. That bill stalled due to conflict over non-aviation-related measures included in the legislation.
Passage of new legislation is seen by some as the tipping point for starting down the path of real progress in creating NextGen air traffic control infrastructure that would ultimately give pilots much more awareness of their flight's routing and potential traffic conflicts.