Blakey Gives Last Pitch for User Fees

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Outgoing FAA Administrator Marion Blakey gave one last pitch for the implementation of general aviation user fees at EAA AirVenture on Thursday. And a gracious capacity crowd attending the annual "Meet The Boss" session let her have her say. During her introduction, EAA President Tom Poberezny noted that the FAA reauthorization bill is before Congress and that means the debate at the grass roots level is over. But Blakey, who could have let the issue go, instead suggested that Congress's failure to implement a "cost-based" system of revenue generation could result in blocks of airspace being closed to general aviation. "There's a very real possibility you won't be able to fly where you want, when you want," she said. "We believe a cost-based system will keep you flying rather than keep you from flying." She also stressed that under the proposal her adminstration made, the majority of general aviation operators would not be affected.

Blakey also took some time to reflect on her five years as Administrator and noted some accomplishments. Under her administration, the wait time for processing of flight medicals in which some issue was flagged at the local level has gone from a number of months to about three weeks. She's also happy with the progress of the deployment of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), noting she expects the $1 billion contract to initiate the system in the Lower 48 states to be awarded to one of three private sector bidders on Aug. 30. She also said that her term has seen the safest period for U.S. aviation.