January 29, 2009
By Warren D. Morningstar
The U.S. House of Representatives recognized the importance of general aviation in the $819 billion economic stimulus package passed Jan 28.
“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would pump an additional $3 billion toward airport improvements,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “That’s money that could be spent now on projects benefiting general aviation airports. I’m very pleased that the House heard our arguments that investment in general aviation would create jobs immediately and improve our transportation infrastructure, which will yield economic benefits for decades.
Fuller made special note of Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, “who started pushing for including airport projects in the stimulus package last year.”
The additional money for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) would go to airports that have “shovel ready” projects that could go to contract within 120 days of receiving FAA approval. There are no formulas for distributing the money, unlike the “regular” AIP grants.
“This money could be used to improve the safety and utility of GA airports by installing lights and other projects to support WAAS approaches to the lowest possible minimums,” said Fuller.
AOPA, along with other aviation associations, had provided information to members of Congress to ensure they understood the economic impact of GA in the national economy.
“While the House bill provides $3 billion for airports, and the Senate is considering economic stimulus legislation that currently proposes a smaller amount of additional AIP funding,” said Lorraine Howerton, AOPA vice president of legislative affairs. “Once the Senate passes its final bill, we will be pushing for the bigger investment for airports as the House and Senate work to resolve the differences in a conference committee.”
Advocacy and Legislation
AOPA has named Jim Coon as senior vice president of government affairs and advocacy. Coon has years of experience working with Congress and the aviation industry.
Federal Air Surgeon Fred Tilton contacted AOPA Dec. 19 to announce that the FAA will not move ahead with implementing its new sleep apnea policy in January. Instead, in the new year, the agency will open discussions with aviation industry stakeholders to find a way to balance pilots’ and the FAA’s concerns.
When President Barack Obama travels to Hawaii for the holidays, a presidential TFR will be in place, but thanks to AOPA’s ongoing advocacy efforts, certain accommodations have been made for general aviation operations.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.