GA Groups Welcome FAA Funding Bill
Aviation organizations reacted with relief this week to news that a $63 billion, four-year FAA funding bill has finally been agreed on in Washington. AOPA said, "General aviation pilots can celebrate" -- the bill left out user fees and doesn't increase taxes for avgas or jet fuel. The bill makes it possible for the government to create an incentive program to help GA pilots equip for NextGen, and authorizes $13.4 billion for airport improvement projects. It also addresses through-the-fence operations, allowing airport access to adjacent property owners. Other aviation groups, such as NBAA, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, and the Air Line Pilots Association, also reacted positively to the news.
NBAA President Ed Bolen said the "business aviation community understands that a long-term measure is the best way to ensure that the agency has the guidance needed to pursue long-term initiatives, including implementation of a Next Generation Air Traffic System … so that our aviation system can meet the needs of the future." Lee Moak, president of ALPA, said, "Overall, this is a very strong aviation safety bill," but he added that he'll comment further after staffers have had time to review the bill in detail. There are some provisions that ALPA would prefer to see removed before the final bill is passed, he said. NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said, "Long-term funding -- including vital funds for the NextGen air traffic control system -- will lead to safer and more reliable air travel. … We urge swift passage of this bill." For about five years, the FAA has limped along with 23 short-term funding appropriations from Congress. The Senate and House now need to vote on the bill before Feb. 17, when the current short-term bill expires, but it is expected to pass.