The Devil's In The Details Of House FAA Bill
Late Wednesday the U.S. House of Representatives finally released H.R.2881, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007. As widely expected in aviation circles, the House bill does not contain any user fees, unlike the companion Senate bill (S.1300) that includes a $25 per flight fee for turbine aircraft using the IFR system. However, H.R.2881 does increase and expand existing fees for FAA services, with some fees increasing by 2,500 percent (see table). Importantly, the FAA reauthorization fully funds ATC modernization, better known simply as NextGen. "This legislation addresses many of the concerns raised by general aviation and puts in place building blocks required to move forward with NextGen," said General Aviation Manufacturers Association President and CEO Pete Bunce. "We are proud to have leaders like Chairmen Oberstar and Costello and ranking members Mica and Petri taking bold steps to ensure these critical needs are met in the NextGen process." The four-year FAA reauthorization legislation also contains several other "Easter eggs," including a system to monitor service at Flight Service Stations, a provision to raise the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots to 65, and a requirement for the FAA to roll out tamper-proof pilot certificates that contain a photo of the airman and possibly even a biometric identifier. The bill also includes language that would send the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the FAA back to the negotiating table to finish work on a collective bargaining agreement.