The FAA funding bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump last week is good news for general aviation, according to analyses of the plan by several GA advocacy groups. “We appreciate the strong support shown by Congress in this omnibus measure for general aviation, especially in the critical areas of safety, certification and the transition to an unleaded avgas,” said GAMA President Pete Bunce. He added that the bill also raises “strong concerns about the attempt to remove the U.S. air traffic control system from the FAA,” which is in sync with GAMA’s view that ATC privatization would be a bad idea. The bill provides $1.29 billion for aviation safety activities, including $1.5 million to hire six new FAA staffers to support the certification of new technologies. Contract towers are fully funded, at $159 million.
The measure also directs the FAA to work with industry to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of product certification, including fuller utilization of organization designation authorization, something for which GAMA strongly advocated. AOPA also was pleased with the bill. “Congress has clearly spoken in support of general aviation in the omnibus spending bill, which fully funds the programs that matter to pilots, including air traffic control, contract towers and NextGen implementation,” said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. The bill allots more than $1 billion to NextGen, to “help ease future congestion and reduce delays for travelers,” and directs $7 million to research on alternative fuels for GA.
NBAA also supported the bill. “This bill recognizes the importance of making a continued investment to ensure America retains its global leadership position in aviation,” said NBAA President Ed Bolen. “NBAA was proud to advocate for the language giving the FAA increased flexibility in the use of resources, thereby providing the agency with more tools in its toolbox to help ensure that its programs have stable, predictable funding.” The bill provides $16.4 billion in total budgetary resources to the FAA, $127 million above the level in fiscal 2016, and $508 million above the amount requested for fiscal year 2017, according to AOPA. The bill funds the FAA through Sept. 30.