DOT transition team gets 'Top 5 AOPA Issues'

November 24, 2008

A new FAA administrator, FAA reauthorization, ATC modernization, airport investment and protection, and the environment topped AOPA’s list of important general aviation issues during a Nov. 24 meeting with President-elect Barack Obama’s Department of Transportation transition team.

AOPA President-elect Craig Fuller, who will take the helm on Jan. 1, wasted no time setting the record straight on user fees.

“There’s no reason to reopen the user fee debate because members haven’t changed their position,” Fuller told members of the transition team charged with developing policy papers for transportation agencies. “Prolonging the uncertainty over funding the FAA is not good for the health of the aviation industry.”

Fuller, along with AOPA Executive Vice President of Government Affairs Andy Cebula, met with Mortimer Downey, head of the DOT transition team, Duane Woerth, former president of the Air Line Pilots Association, and Jane Garvey, former FAA administrator, to give the team an idea of aviation priorities for the new administration. The transition team’s goal is to gather information from the transportation industry’s stakeholders. AOPA presented top issues in a white paper. At the request of Garvey, AOPA will provide the team with more information over the coming weeks on additional issues important to general aviation pilots.

Most important, Fuller explained, is selecting the right FAA administrator—someone with an understanding of aviation, its central role in the economy, and the need for investing in aviation infrastructure. AOPA’s transition paper also emphasized that the next FAA chief would need strong leadership, technical, and people-management skills, along with insight into the political arena.

AOPA encouraged the Obama administration to fund the FAA with aviation taxes and include airport improvements and protection in all infrastructure initiatives. Fuller used the opportunity to suggest that general aviation be part of the new administration's economic stimulus package. Many airport projects would be ready to go as soon as funding was received.

The association also recommended that the administration delay the implementation of ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast) until the aviation industry can develop an implementation plan that would benefit all users.

Regarding aviation and the environment, AOPA said that the administration would need to be prepared to address proposed policies and regulations on avgas and aircraft noise and emissions.