FAA Funding Bill Includes a Mixed Bag of Good and Bad

FAA Funding Bill Includes a Mixed Bag of Good and Bad FAA

Opposition to FAA reauthorization legislation introduced in the House yesterday was swift, but not quite as loud as you might think based on the high level of emotion surrounding proposals out of Washington to privatize ATC.

The National Business Aviation Association was clear in its longstanding disapproval of the plan to create a non-profit corporate board to run ATC.

AOPA, however, sounded a more cautiously optimistic tone than it has in recent months, noting for example that the bill includes third-class medical reform and aircraft certification reform language. It also doesn’t seek to levy user fees on general aviation as part of the ATC privatization proposal, only on the airlines and commercial Part 135 operators, which comes as a relief to the organization.

“There are some very good things for general aviation in this bill,” said AOPA president Mark Baker, according to AOPA.org. “I think everyone can agree that the FAA can be more efficient and effective, and this legislation creates opportunities for both third class medical reform and certification reform that have the potential to make flying safer and more affordable.”

AOPA stopped well short of endorsing the bill as written, however, reiterating its opposition to user fees on charter operators, which fly GA aircraft.

Baker said: “But there are other provisions we will firmly oppose such as user fees for any segment of GA, including business aviation. And still other elements, like the plan to separate air traffic control from the FAA, raise important questions that demand meaningful answers.”

NBAA president Ed Bolen, meanwhile, noted that while “steps appear to have been taken” in the legislation to exempt some segments of general aviation from the user fees, the debate over ATC privatization “has always been about much more” than user fees.

“NBAA opposes this legislation, which has been pushed by most of the big airlines, and is modeled on foreign systems that can be – and in many cases have been – harmful to general aviation, including business aviation,” Bolen said. “NBAA believes that the public airspace belongs to the public, and should be run for the public’s interest. Putting our nation’s ATC system beyond the reach of elected officials has the potential to not only harm general aviation, but also stifle innovation and new competition.

He continued: “There are better, more targeted ways to ensure the United States continues to enjoy the largest, safest, most diverse and most efficient air transportation system five, 10 and 20 years from now,” Bolen continued. “We do not need to take the risky step of turning our nation’s air traffic system over to a small group of self-interested industry stakeholders.”


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