GA Getting No Love in DOT 5-Year Plan Draft

"In its current form, the [Department of Transportation draft plan for 2010-2015] places more emphasis on travel by bicycle than on general aviation." So said AOPA President Craig Fuller in comments to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The draft ignores the contribution and economic importance of general aviation and its relevance to five of the six stated strategic goals in the draft plan, according to Fuller's statement. Those goals include: safety (the one in which GA is mentioned); state of good repair; economic competitiveness; livable communities; environmental sustainability; and [DOT] organizational excellence. And AOPA is concerned by Page 19 of the plan, which appears to propose aviation user fees as a "policy model of choice" — language echoing that found in the Obama administration's Fiscal Year 2010 budget support documents sent to Congress. The same language is conspicuously missing from the administration's 2011 budget report. In particular, AOPA objects to the exclusion of reference to GA in the section on "livable communities," based on the expanding contribution GA makes to rural regions and small towns in the face of ever-decreasing airline service. Emergency medical service and disaster relief are two other areas in which GA has filled voids left by decreases in other forms of transportation. Fuller concluded, "AOPA's goal in providing this input is to ensure that the final plan recognized the role and contributions of general aviation to the nation's transportation system."